I get angry at my profession sometimes. There is so much emphasis placed on being outgoing, upbeat individuals that spend a lot of time shaking hands and kissing babies. But that is a strategy made for extroverts.
That means, the message I hear, as an introvert, is that “networking isn’t for me.” It doesn’t help that I hate networking. The idea of talking to people I don’t know. The courage to approach them. Knowing how to strike up a conversation. And then figuring out how to leave the conversation. All while trying my hardest not to be awkward AND not get lost in my own head.
As an introvert, it can all seem like too much. But I have found a way to make it work and while it isn’t something that will always come easily to me or something that I will always want to do, I do know that by pushing myself outside of this particular comfort zone is key to my career success and happiness.
But I don’t network like an extrovert, I create a networking strategy that is more suited for introverts, one that makes sense for us.
That is why I created this guide, it is full of tips, trick and thoughts on networking. It will help you create a strategy that suits you while also encouraging you to step a little outside of your comfort zone, not just for your career but also for your own personal growth.
SPOILER ALERT: Read to the end, I have a FREE worksheet and an announcement to make networking just a bit easier for you!
Networking Is More than the Event
The first thing to know is that networking is not just networking events. Whenever I ask clients about their networking, all I ever here is about networking events. In fact, what I described above is pretty much my fear and hate of networking, especially at an event!
The networking event is just one of many forms of networking that you can choose. And while I’ll always recommend attending at least one, I recommend it more for pushing yourself rather than for meeting new people (in the case of introverts).
Networking is a mixed bag of tricks and it is entirely possible to create a strategy that doesn’t include events. In fact, I view events almost equally to emails. Those quick conversations you have are just the launching point of a networking relationship, just like an email is!
Network like an Introvert
Introverts prefer one-on-one conversations and have a close friend group. So network like that. Instead of filling your calendar with events (who am I kidding here, instead of steering clear of events!), fill it with one-on-one meetings. Introverts are great at building relationships when we meet people in a quiet setting that allows us to focus on a particular person. So use that as the foundation of your strategy.
Talk to People You Know
The cornerstone of any networking strategy is connecting with people you know, no matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert. I recommend always starting with previous managers and people you would list as a reference. These are your number one advocates as they have hired you, can speak to your performance and, more than likely, want to see you succeed.
For introverts, they are also great practice grounds! Use the people you know as a way to get used to talking about yourself and what you want while also asking questions. Don’t forget to ask them about other people you should speak to, maybe they can introduce you or at least you can use their name as a way to feel less icky about emailing someone you don’t know.
My mind is running a million miles a minute, and if I’m nervous it is easy to get carried away by my thoughts. Which means that I’m probably not going to actually do any networking or if I do finally talk to someone, I’m not making the most of the conversation.
To combat that I do a lot of work ahead of the game. I always have a ready list of questions that I can ask someone:
And on and on. I usually have a good 10-20 questions at the ready and this allows me to not worry about what to talk about. For a more formal informational interview (which can be life-changing!), I have very specific questions prepared.
Plus, I really don’t like talking about myself, so I also have questions that I can use in response to a question until I’m ready.
And when I am ready, I generally keep it short and sweet – less time to get all weird or rambling!
Being prepared allows me to really focus on the person and the relationship building, it has been key.
Attract People to You
One of the great things about social media, is the ability to create, what I call, a passive networking strategy. Attracting people to you. There are a few ways to go about this, but some would be: optimizing your LinkedIn to attract recruiters, start engaging with people who work at companies you want to work at, and generating content that will be relevant and exciting to people within your industry.
Go Softly Forward
When you think of emailing someone you don’t know, do your palms start to sweat? Is it because you are afraid that they will be annoyed? As long as you are emailing a soft ask, they won’t be – trust me! What do I mean about a soft ask? Well one that isn’t, “do you have any job openings?” or in that vain. A soft ask is one for information, wanting to learn a little bit more about what they do. You are only asking for a few minutes of their time to find out information about their job.
When you ask it this way, they are more likely to feel complimented, like “who me? You want to know what I do?” You are making their day, not ruining it!
Don’t Go it Alone
Find a networking buddy or coach, to cheer and encourage you during this scary time. Be accountable to them, create some goals and check in to make sure you are accomplishing them or to provide support if you are having trouble.
See an event you want to go to, but are nervous? Ask them to come along with you and encourage each other to meet your event goals.
If you are in Halton and need someone to go with you, try asking for a buddy on our Halton Career Networking Group over on Facebook. Any HR professionals in Halton wanting to attend one of the monthly events – let me know and I’ll go with you!
I know that these strategies work, as they have worked well for me. Networking began with one-on-one meetings set up by people I knew with people they knew (ok, my first informational interview was set up by my dad!). I didn't go alone to my first networking event, I went with friends.
I didn't settle. I didn't settle when what was being told to me didn't sound right. I didn't settle with the message that networking isn't for introverts. I did something about it.
Now I want to help you with it. That is why I'm excited to share these two things:
1. FREE Elevator Pitch Worksheet
2. Purposeful Networking Course (special discount offer of $14.95 on until July 8th)
Job Searches suck. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. The average job search is 3-6 months in Canada, 6-9 months in the States, already that seems like a long period of time but sometimes we fall outside of those averages. And when we do, when we enter into the 1 year mark (or longer) in an active job search, we can reach a low we never thought possible.
It leaves us feeling lost, frustrated and confused. We question every decision we make, and feel pretty horrible about ourselves. We think we are doing the right things, but we are hearing nothing from companies (either after an application or an interview). Negativity is taking over and it is hard to feel like we will ever get a job, the light at the end of the tunnel is just getting dimmer and dimmer.
But we can’t give up, that isn’t an option right? So what do we do?
First read this article on Staying Inspired During a Job Search and consider taking a day or two (or seven!) off to give you time to recharge.
Next, we need to do a review, we need to see where there is potential, room for improvement and to know whether we should reach out for help.
Let’s look at your applications. Examine, look at your applications to jobs that are a good fit, meaning you should probably have gotten an interview.
Let’s look at your ratio – how many of those did you get an interview for those, how many?
The standard ratio is 1 interview out of 5-10 applications depending, some industries and some circumstances can change it.
For the ones that garnered you the interview, let’s take a closer look. What was it about that application that led to the interview – what was the application process (email direct, networking, ATS), what did your resume and cover letter look like, industry, company size. This information may allow you to further focus your work.
If your ratio is not in line with the average ratio. Then we need to re-examine your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Is your resume telling YOUR story, are you sending in a cover letter, is it engaging? Is your resume and LinkedIn profile optimized for an Applicant Tracking System?
Have someone else read through all of your documents, I would have someone who is familiar with what you do (to mimic the Hiring Manager) and someone who isn’t (to mimic a recruiter). Sometimes, we get so stuck in our head when it comes to our marketing documents that it is helpful to get someone else’s feedback. Plus, it is common to constantly tweak it to align with all of the conflicting information out there which leaves you with a resume that isn’t cohesive.
Obviously, if you are really struggling then getting a resume writer to take a look or write you a new one may be the best option for you.
Do you have a networking strategy, is networking a part of your job search? 70-80% of jobs are found through some form of networking so it is important to get a strategy going. Plus it will get you out of the house and out of your head!
Each week you should devote most of your time to some form of networking activity, so next week look at your current network, who can you take out for coffee?
Confused and have no idea where to start? I've written alot about Networking and talk about it a lot on my weekly Q&A on Facebook Live (on my page and in the Find Career Happiness Group).
Stay tuned, I have an amazing freebie coming next week plus an announcement that will make networking so much easier!
When I ask people about their job search, their successes equate to two things – resumes submitted and interviews secured. And while, securing interviews is a goal as you need them to get the offer, tying your feeling of success to something outside of your control is a sure-fire way to destroy your self-confidence and allow a negative attitude to flourish. So my first recommendation for interviews is to be cognizant of them (how many you are getting, how they are going, etc) but instead of using that as a major goal, use networking instead.
Now let’s assume your resume to interview average is good. Let’s look at your interview to offer numbers. On average, it takes interviewing with 4-5 different companies to receive 1 offer. I’m guessing since you are reading this, that that isn’t the case. So let’s examine the interview.
How have the interviews been going? Where have you excelled and where have you struggled? What kind of questions have they asked, and what kind of answers have you given? Are you telling your story or just answering in bullet points? Are you asking insightful questions?
If you are struggling, consider having a friend give you a mock interview or better yet hire a coach, the investment will be worth it. Self-awareness is great, but we are biased, so it is helpful to have someone objective listen in.
At the end of the day, you need to start talking to people. Get some advise from a previous Manager (great start for networking) on your job search, resume and interview skills. Talk with a close friend or family member. Right now, a clear, objective and unbiased look at your job search is exactly what you need.
As always, you can set up a complimentary 30 minute Strategy Call with me and I would be happy to discuss.
And stay tuned for the big announcement next week!
I am the type of person who wants to be great at what they want to do. I know I’m not a unicorn or special snowflake as I believe most people want to be great at what they do.
But what happens when that strive for greatness backfires? We get burnt out.
Burn out looks differently for everyone and the road to burn out is no different.
For some, it is our people pleasing getting in our way. We just can’t say no. No matter how hard we try or how badly we want to, it is just so ingrained to keep saying yes. This is especially bad for women – we are taught from such a young age that we are here to serve and that being liked is the be all and end all. Pretty much a message that we should say yes all the time. So our plate gets too full, too heavy.
For others, it is our need to overachieve, to be the best at what we do. But not only that, it is making sure other people know we are the best, our competitive nature. So we spread ourselves too thin doing great work but also spending the time to make sure those important people know just how hard we are working and how successful we are. We get so focused on success that our well-being is ignored.
And then there is those of us who don’t have those same internal struggles but who are working in a toxic environment. Either the whole company culture, our managers or our teams are just a poisonous environment. We are always walking on egg shells, adrenaline pumping, constantly in a state of “flight or fight”. We just can’t handle it anymore.
Three different paths, same destination. Burn Out.
How do I know if I’m Burnt Out?
Burn out is a state of chronic stress. It can manifest itself differently depending on the person and the situation, meaning that burn out can impact you physically or emotionally. It is a slow process, slowly building up until you just can no longer function properly anymore.
This is good news, as there are signs that can help you indicate whether or not you are on your way to a full-fledge burnout breakdown.
Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Burn Out
1. Lack of energy
Are you feeling tired or drained? Is it getting worse? Maybe it started out as just so exhausted at the end of the day and now you are depleted the whole day through? How is your sleep – is it fitful or are you experiencing some insomnia?
Are you experiencing more pain than usual – is your blood pressure higher, having heart palpitations or episodes of difficulty breathing? To get TMI on you, are you having any gastro issues – like increased constipation or episodes of diarrhea? Maybe you are getting sick ALL. THE. TIME. A new occurrence as you didn’t use to get every single cold, flu or stomach bug but now you are. For all of these, please go see your Doctor!!
3. Change in Appetite
This is different for everyone, depending on how they handle stress. Have you lost your appetite or has your appetite kicked into high gear? You either can’t even think about food or all you can think about is food!
4. Loss of Focus
Your attention span has vanished. No matter what you do you just can’t focus anymore and work begins to pile up.
5. Anxiety and Depression
This starts off mild. Maybe you feel on edge or little sad. Maybe the Sunday Blues start on Saturday and are a little bit more intense. Then it just gets worse from there. You start to experience panic when you wake up in the morning, or trapped with no way out. Sometimes depression doesn’t show up as sadness, it shows up as anger (especially in men), so if you went through a period of irritability that has grown into flat out anger at the world and quick to getting in arguments then this is a sign of burn out and depression. Again if sounds like you please seek out your Doctor!
6. Rock Bottom Self Esteem
We blame ourselves. It is our own fault we are feeling this way – if only we were better at saying no, or if only we were truly successful and live up to our own crazy aspirations or if only we can mold to our toxic’s bosses unrealistic expectations. So maybe you feel worthless, like you have no value to bring to the world.
What Burnout Can Look Like
We are really good at lying to ourselves. Plus the above 6 signs usually come on very slowly giving us the time to adapt to this “new norm”. So it can be hard to recognize those physical and emotional symptoms of burn out. But there are other signs and there are certain things we are doing in our lives that can indicate we are on our way to burning out.
1. You have put yourself on a deserted island
I’ve shared with you in the past a time when I hated my job so much that I isolated myself completely in the workplace. I avoided talking to people as much as possible. After a while, I didn’t want to see friends. I felt ashamed that I was still stuck at my job that I hated. This isolation led to detachment. Now this came real easy to me as it is a natural coping and defense mechanism of my INFJ personality type. So not only was I isolating myself but I was building walls around me. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
2. You feel like there is no point.
Are you turning into a cynic? You feel like even trying to change is worthless, what’s the point after all? You just can’t count on anything anymore. So why even bother. No one cares. The world is out to get you. There is no hope.
3. You Suck at Your Job
Well maybe not completely suck. But you are spread so thin that your performance isn’t measuring up. You are making mistakes, your creativity has taken a long vacation, your To Do list is just never ending and you can’t seem to get it under control.
Does any of this sound like you?
Then first, do you need to talk to your Doctor? If so, set up an appointment ASAP.
Next? Do Something. Anything. Pick one thing you can do this week to change your situation. If you need help; find a support system, set a call me with to chat or talk to someone.
Accept that it is time to change and make that your number one priority going forward.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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