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:
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.
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.
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.
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?