I have to confess: I'm an introvert. People are often surprised by this. They assume that my public speaking and networking skills mean I must be an extravert. However, introverts can excel in these areas, too.
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If you're an introvert struggling with your job search, here are a few tips to help:
1. Practice Networking
Don't wait until it really counts to go to networking events. Prepare by writing down and practicing your elevator pitch. Get your business cards together. Think through how you will approach a social event and whether or not you're comfortable going alone. Set a goal to meet at least five new people per event. Exchange business cards and follow up with your new contacts afterward!
If you struggle to remember people's names or details about their lives and careers, write notes on the back of every business card you receive. Include the date you met the person, where you were, and a few things you talked about. Before you attend future networking events, review your business card notes. Your contacts will surely be impressed by what you remember!
2. Look for Opportunities to Have Private Meetings With Networking Contacts
One-on-one meetings are typically much easier and more fruitful for introverts. Sure, you're only meeting one person at a time this way, but quality trumps quantity.
Invite new contacts out for coffee or lunch. Take the time to get to know each person. Find out what you have in common. Try to avoid asking for favors up front. Instead, look for opportunities to help the other person. Building relationships takes time. It isn't all about landing a job in the moment.
3. Use the Internet to Your Advantage
If you aren't tapped into the latest gossip surrounding a company you might like to join, check out the reviews on Glassdoor. If you have an interview coming up, use LinkedIn to research your future hiring manager. Use Salary.com to find out what other people are making in your field and in your city.
In the past, much of this information could only be gathered by word of mouth. The internet gives you the power to learn more about the company, the hiring manager, and the job, all from the comfort of your living room.
Remember: Being an introvert is an asset. Depending on the type of job you do, the hiring manager may be looking for someone a little quieter or a little more serious.
If you struggle at networking events, keep in mind that the more you practice, the better you'll become. Plus, you don't have to be the best networker to be a great one. Networking isn't a one-time event or a competition. Your network is something you develop and grow over time and in many settings. This means that you'll have many chances to make a great impression.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.