“Community Building” – It’s the New Networking

I am going to just go ahead and admit it. I hate networking. Hate it.social-networking-sites

You would think that someone working in the career services industry would have to love networking right?

Not really. I am completely an introvert. That being said, that does not mean I cannot network. If forced to, I can push down that giant ball of panic that begins to rise up in my throat and talk to one maybe two people (max) who I do not know. They have to approach me first, though.

If you are introverted (or even extroverted) and hate networking, you are certainly not alone. There are some things that you can do to make networking less of a challenge and more enjoyable.

First of all, let’s scrap the name, “networking” in favor of something less daunting. How about “community building?” After all, that is all you are doing when you talk to people about careers and interests. Better, right?

Second, let’s forget about making community building about you. If you go into a room with no expectation that you will have to rattle off your prepared elevator speech to impress as many people as possible, that takes off  the pressure. Instead, when you enter a room or meet someone new, ask them about THEM. Ask them about their career, where they went to school, what internships they did, etc. You get the idea. People love to talk about themselves. Inevitably, they will ask about you. By then, you will be much more comfortable. You can be honest about your career path, skills, and interests. Hopefully, they will then work with you to see if they can help you on your path.

Finally, follow up. Get their card. If they don’t have a card, get their name and email address. At the very least, go home and connect to them on LinkedIn (if they have a profile). Then, send them a message or email letting them know how much you enjoyed talking to them. If there were any action items, like if they asked for your resume, be sure to follow up on it.

Now, if you are an introvert, you can go ahead and curl up on the couch and sit in the quiet solitude for a while to recover. I highly recommend chamomile tea with honey and a good TV show.

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