The most effective job search strategy combines online and face-to-face networking. Networking is about meeting others, not selling yourself. You want to build relationships with people who can provide information and open doors that will lead to more conversations. This task may seem daunting to an introvert. Here are a few tactics you can implement to give your job search the boost it needs.
1. Prepare a short Compelling Conversation Opener (COO) using this simple formula:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Who you help
- How you do it
My example: “As a resume writer and career coach, I help jobseekers find jobs that are emotionally and financially rewarding. I guide them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful.”
Practice your COO until it flows naturally. Then develop a few follow up points for when you are asked for more information.
2. The best networker is an active listener, so if you are shy this should be right up your alley. Ask people about themselves, and show a genuine interest. Then share your Compelling Conversation Opener.
3. If the thought of attending networking events alone makes you uncomfortable, start with an event where you will not necessarily need to strike up a conversation, such as a professional organization meeting to hear a speaker or a charity event. At events where the attendees share a common interest, conversations flow easily.
4. Setting a goal for networking can help you focus on something other than your discomfort and gives you a reason to stretch beyond your comfort zone. The goal can be as simple as staying at the event for an hour; once you accomplish that, your next goal can be introducing yourself to three new people. Start small: choose one event to attend each week where you can meet people in your specific field or who can connect you with others.
5. Don’t be shy about exchanging business cards. The other attendees are there to network as well, and many of them may be as nervous as you. A smile is always a great way to start a conversation. Be sure to follow-up after the event via email or LinkedIn.
You can overcome your networking shyness by following these tips and practicing. With each event, networking becomes easier, I promise.
Trish Thomas founded The Resume Resource in 2009 to help people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers. As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, she helps her clients articulate their unique value to stand out from the competition, and guides them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. www.the-resume-resource.com