5 Tips For Networking As An Introvert

How I managed to make connections and land a job at a premium financial institution — as an introvert

Photo courtesy of https://www.brella.io.

Introverts. We’re the best kind of people. We can listen to people rave for hours, revel in the beauty of silence, and we’re the perfect neighbors in New York City. I love being an introvert.

But there was one aspect of life where I felt my introverted personality set me back: networking. Especially when it came to finding a job.

Networking is probably the most important part of navigating the workplace and, quite frankly, navigating life. Everyone wants to have a solid support structure around them. Everyone needs one. And going to a competitive school where people live and breathe finance (a skill that I am still trying to acquire) was definitely daunting. But without too much financial knowledge, I was able to secure an amazing summer internship. Here are the 5 tips I live by when networking:

  1. Know your brand. Know who you are and how you want to present yourself. You may get caught up in asking recruiters and professionals all your questions, but at the end of the day, they won’t know who you are! This is so important. I cannot stress this enough, because I have made this blunder countless times. If you feel like you may not be able to interject during the conversation, make sure you get your introduction out of the way. Something brief, like “My name is Pooja, I’m currently studying finance. I was at Johnson & Johnson last summer in the consumer business, and while it was great, I wanted to explore the financial services industry and specifically Company XYZ. Would you be able to tell me more about your role?” Simple. To the point. And only a few sentences.
  2. Know your audience. If you know who you want to speak with, make sure you know their background. You might think it’s slightly creepy, but LinkedIn creeping can be the best kind of flattery. Ask them about their experiences. If you don’t know them, that’s totally fine. It’s up to you to ask the questions and direct the conversation. See the next tip!
  3. Create strategic questions. Many people say that you need to “make it a conversation,” but for introverts, that can be hard. Especially when it’s someone you’ve just met. But lucky for me and you, people love talking about themselves. Use it to your advantage. I find that being prepared with a generic list of questions is the best way to keep a conversation going. Awkward silence? Easy! Interject with something like, “So where do you see yourself in five years?” Questions like these prompt whoever you’re speaking with to really think and give you a thoughtful response. And you can always build on their answers. For example, I generally ask, “What do you love most about your job?” and then, “What do you find the most challenging/rewarding?” It’s a logical progression, and it shows that you really care about the role. You need to prove that you’re thinking beyond the fortune and fame.
  4. Find an opportune time to interject. I was always the type of person to stand around and wait for people to finish their conversation. Yes, I still do that sometimes. But it’s not the best plan of action. Find a group of three (it’s much much harder- and more awkward- to interject when it’s only a group of two) and join in. Wait for a pause in the conversation, and go for it. Introduce yourself (see Tip #2)! It may seem hard the first time, but the more you keep at it, the easier it gets. People are looking to meet others. They want to meet you, because you could be the missing link in their network. So be confident!
  5. Go in with a game plan. Know who you want to talk to and how many people you want to talk to. Understand what you want to get out of this networking session. Do you want to get to know the company? Do you just want business cards? When you go in with a game plan, you aren’t just floundering around. It makes the experience easier on you, and much less stress-inducing.

Little introvert, how I hope I’ve helped. This is a skeleton, it’s up to you to construct your network. Take a deep breath. Stand up straight. Smile. Go in there. You got this.