Some people abhor networking events, some love it, some are often confused on exactly what should one do at such events.
With networking featuring on the top of a job search priority list these days, it sure must feature high on your must-do list if finding your perfect job fast is a priority to you.
Now for an introvert personality this is not as easy task. But there are ways to use your strengths to overcome any fear or apprehension of either a networking event or an interview.
“Networking events are for schmoozers, for the extroverts, for those who love to talk. As an introvert I don’t think I’ll ever fit in that scenario.”
Hold on, no need to form a strong opinion there are ways you can overcome the apprehension of networking and meeting unknown people. Here are a few steps and affirmations which will help you get over any intimidation that you feel when someone says “networking“!
- Eliminate stress from networking by reducing your expectations of “doing” – shift your focus to “being”.
Maybe you just are not comfortable talking to strangers and that is the main intimidating aspect of a networking event or mixer. Don’t always go with a mindset that you have to DO something at these events. Sometimes doing less is doing more. Relax and don’t feel the urge that you must do something to sell yourself. Often it is the stress of ‘mind-created’ situations that we induce on ourselves that makes networking intimidating. At times not having an objective yields better results than an obsession with it.
“I will go to this networking event to observe how others network, I don’t necessarily have to do something – I am there to learn and perhaps just talk to someone I feel comfortable with.“
- Listening comes naturally to you, use it to your advantage.
When starting on the event imagine yourself going to a get together where you might now know the group but you’ll probably find someone interesting to talk to or just to listen to. Whew! There you go the pre-stress is taken care of. Just be yourself and observe what others do; if you want talk to someone you feel comfortable with and you just don’t have to push your resume or explain what positions you are looking for. Just converse.
“I am not going to push my resume to someone, I am not comfortable doing that, but business card shouldn’t be a problem. My objective at this event would be to observe the speakers and other knowledge share which enhances my knowledge on current job market.”
- Be authentic, be yourself. Use non-verbal skills to your advantage.
What would you want people to remember you by – or as. What aspect of your personality do your friends and family enjoy? A smiling person, warm and friendly, happy listener – whatever it is you can just be that without trying to be someone else. Be yourself, people will like you better that way.
Do you recall a meeting where of the many who were present you were perhaps driven to a person who had not spoken a single word, but his/her immaculate presence and sincerity attracted you to introduce yourself? That’s the power of non-verbal impression.
Dress professionally, be well groomed, carry an authentic smile, exude confidence – the world is yours! Don’t pretend to be someone you are not, being authentic and friendly is as magnetic as any impressive extrovert personality.
“I shall be myself. I am not an extrovert and do not enjoy sharing what I am going through now, or ranting out my elevator pitch as I meet a possible recruiter in my industry. I want to be comfortable and make the best of my time at this event. I would follow-up later at my own time if need be.“
You might want to read: How to Find Networking Events
So you suggest that I should NOT actively participate at this networking, now how’s that going to bring me any any benefit especially since I have paid for this event?
Yes at times being there in the moment- stress free – is a better idea than ‘networking’ and ‘pushing your resume’ being on the mind constantly. We often learn more when we are listening than when we are talking. What you must bring back however is the business cards of those you found interesting – speakers or just good-to-know people. And what you must give to them is your business card.
Now if you don’t have a business card then sure enough it is time to work on that first? What, I don’t have a job should I have a business card. Yes of course, a personal business card is required for all job seekers, and that’s how those you network with will remember. And if you turned out to be a nice person to know, perhaps they’ll recall you more as opposed to someone with incredible credentials but just was pushy on networking.
An introvert usually likes to respond on his/her own time and spontaneous response is perhaps not what is preferred here. And that is exactly the idea behind business card exchange plan – respond to whosoever you want to when you’re back home and if you turned out to be someone the person you met during the event wants to discuss on a professional level that might happen because now you remind him/her of your meeting through your business card.
Can I count the networking event expenses in the tax deductible expenses for my job search?
Yes, networking event registration expenses, transportation and travel expenses can be added to your other job search expenses for tax deduction. Keep all receipts and information for filing.
So now you know when the wise guys preach that doing less is doing more – it unexpectedly also applies to the networking events.
What are your tips for someone who is not comfortable at networking events? Share in comments below..