I remember sitting in class my sophomore, junior and senior years of college. I shook my head as my professors repeated the same career advice to the same group of timid people: “It’s all about networking.”
“Not for me,” I thought. “I can find a job without networking.”
When I graduated and began applying for jobs, I learned that it really is who you know, not what you know. Networking and finding professional success as an introvert can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. There are multiple ways to find networking success without an extrovert’s confidence.
Reevaluate Who You Know in Addition to Your Skills and Experience
I can’t tell you how many jobs to which I applied after graduation. I had an Excel sheet a mile long with the names of companies, job titles and salaries listed in bold, glaring letters. With little success in my job search, I began to think about part-time work, internships and even a gap year to travel with what little money I had saved.
If you have a degree, the right skills and the experience for a position, you’re already halfway there. But if you still can’t land a job with these tools, it could be that you lack the connections to push you through the door.
Remember that Any Social Event Can Lead to Networking
It wasn’t until a few months after graduating college that I landed my first professional gig as a contractor. This wasn’t a gig to which I applied; I didn’t even need to write a cover letter or submit a list of references. All I had to do was attend my sister’s wedding and give a pretty terrible speech.
Standing before 100 people I hardly knew, I blurted out that I had majored in English. A guest at the wedding pulled me aside later that night and told me she needed to hire a content writer to develop articles for her companies’ blogs.
Relieved that I’d finally found my big break, I accepted her offer and began working as a contractor. A mere three months later, she hired me full-time as the Marketing Director for two of her companies.
Had I gotten lucky? Perhaps, but that’s how networking is: if you meet the right people who happen to be impressed by you, your job search could be over.
My big break came at a wedding. I wasn’t totally comfortable there, but the setting was very informal. I landed a job with Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” thumping in the background.
The point is that you can use almost any event as a networking platform. Whether you’re attending a neighborhood cookout or a job fair, take the leap and put yourself out there. But, of course, you don’t have to network in person, especially in 2020’s era of social distancing.
Use LinkedIn to Make Meaningful Connections
In the age of social media, networking is in some ways easier than ever. But before networking online, remember that you’re competing with hundreds or thousands of other people. When you network in person, you have a higher chance of making an impression.
Using LinkedIn is an excellent way to reach out to employers, form meaningful connections and showcase your skills. Properly reaching out to people in your industry — those who share your interests, are part of the groups you follow or work in the industry you’d like to enter — can help you make a meaningful impression. Message them, elucidating your common interests, and then point them to your profile, which summarizes your career information and education.
Attend a Virtual Career Fair
Virtual career fairs are an excellent way for introverts to network with potential employers. We host multiple Virtual Career Fairs (VCFs) every year, which are open to AMU/APU current students and alumni. Our VCFs take the anxiety out of networking because you can easily chat with employers via instant message. To learn when our events will be hosted, visit the Career Services calendar.
With COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, virtual career fairs and online networking platforms are more popular than ever. It’s no longer a matter of wanting to network online, but of needing to network online. If you’re searching for a job in our current climate, you should take advantage of the fact that these online networking tools have become more acceptable as a way of connecting with prospective employers.
Good Networking Is a Factor in the Job Search, but Not the Only Factor
While networking is an important factor in the job hunt, it’s not the only one. There have been times when I’ve applied to jobs to which I had a connection without success. But well-rounded candidates with education, experience and good connections are more likely to land a job, especially in today’s challenging job market.
When you’re feeling discouraged in the process of finding a job, contact Career Services for resources, interview preparation and resume reviews. Our expert career coaches can help you become a better candidate in your industry!