Let me tell you a secret – I’m pretty socially awkward and often experience anxiety about meeting new people. I know I’m not alone in this, as according to Hubspot, 25% of us don’t network at all, despite 85% of jobs being filled through networking. There are probably many reasons for my angst; perhaps a natural shyness, the fear of being disliked, or judged either personally or professionally.
However, I’m old enough and wise enough to know that to be as effective and successful as you can, you have to Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I’m lucky enough to work with several fantastic and inspiring Career Coaches at Renovo who have taught me many ways to overcome my concerns. Here are some of the things I’ve learned and have put in practice – hopefully these tips will help my fellow introverts out there to conquer networking fear, whether job searching, at conferences or in looking for people to collaborate with.
Plan what you want to say by creating an ‘Elevator Pitch’. This is a short (about 60 seconds) speech which allows you to succinctly get across who you are, what you do and where you can add value. With a strong Elevator Pitch you will capture the listener’s attention by introducing who you are, before explaining what you do, including the problems you solve and where you add value. Particularly if you’re job searching, you might want to align your pitch with this in mind and explain your goals and aims.
Give yourself a goal to aim for. David Lurie has the great tactic of taking 20 business cards and not allowing himself to leave the event without handing them all out. A strategy such as this alongside your Elevator Pitch will probably find you quickly growing in confidence as you meet likeminded new acquaintances!
Don’t forget the people you are talking to are there to network too! For many, to stop and listen is a simple piece of advice, but for the socially wary, you can easily let your worry take over. Take your time, remember to breathe and make sure you listen to what your new acquaintance is saying. Ask plenty of questions and you will soon be conversing naturally and confidently.
If you still aren’t confident with face to face networking, start by networking online. LinkedIn is a great way to make connections and continue to grow your network. You can ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’ posts on this platform, which will immediately increase your presence and professional background. You can also use ‘Groups’ on LinkedIn; identify industry or function-specific groups relevant to your professional experience and follow them. If you’re job searching, these companies search for candidates on LinkedIn and any vacancies posted will appear on your home feed.
Renovo is the UK’s leading outplacement and career transition specialist. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org