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Networking Ideas For Extremely Shy People

I’m terrified of networking. Any ideas for extremely shy people?

Networking can seem really scary, especially if you are just starting out in your career and feel like you are starting your network from scratch.

And if you are shy it can seem overwhelming.

But networking is not just for the gregarious social butterflies.

Your school might even offer some easy ways for you to get some practice – often there are networking workshops, networking events, and sessions with alumni.

Here are some ideas for helping you make networking more comfortable:

Are you more comfortable online?

Many people who are shy find that they are more comfortable contacting and connecting with people online and/or through email.

If this is the case for you, think about how you can make use of this for your networking.

For example, think about social networking sites (such as LinkedIn or Facebook), and career/job sites (like TalentEgg).

And while other people might call people to ask to connect, there is no reason you can’t try using email if this is easier for you.

Are you more comfortable with people who you already know?

You already have a network, and starting with the people who you already know can often be a lot less scary than going right to strangers. While most of the people who you know may not be in the career field that interests you, chances are some of them will know of people who are.

Asking for referrals can be a great way to get started.

Are you more comfortable if you are well-prepared?

A lot of shy people tell me that they can decrease their nervousness by preparing for conversations ahead of time.

Thinking about how you will introduce yourself, what questions you would like to ask, and even preparing a bit of chit chat (the weather is always popular), can all make it easier to speak with someone.

Might it get better with practice?

It is really true that things get easier with practice. Taking that first step is usually the hardest – as you get moving along it will get smoother. Your school might even offer some easy ways for you to get some practice – often there are networking workshops, networking events, and sessions with alumni – all chances for you to start networking.

We all have our own unique strategies. What else makes you more comfortable?

Happy networking.

Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to career questions from students and new grads just like you.

Written by

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.


  1. February 8, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I love this piece. I am an extremely shy person myself, and I find it so difficult to network in person. Even if I’m dying to talk to a specific individual, I can never seem to work up enough courage to do so – or if I get that far, the words don’t seem to come out right!

    Thanks for the tips. I have found that I’m MUCH more comfortable online so I will definitely stick to this approach whenever possible!

    I appreciate the advice!

  2. February 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Good article. Individuals need to develop this skill to be successful in life, but don’t forget the other side!
    People who are creating networking situations should also have a responsibility to make it easier for participants to network.
    Using ice-breaker or activity-generating exercises at their events make networking better and easier.
    I wrote a book about that years ago. You can see more here if you want:


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