Take a look at the photo. What is your first feeling, your first thought that comes to your mind? (“Great food, now I’m hungry” or “Where are your face masks???” don’t count). Be honest with yourself: Is this a situation that you would actively seek out and thoroughly enjoy?
If your answer is “Yes, this is awesome, I get to meet new people!”, you’re most likely more on the extrovert side. If you’re thinking “Help! Get me out of here!” – welcome to the club, then you’re probably more on the introvert side, like myself.
Networking is the most horrible thing in the world
I’ll be honest with you: I used to hate networking when I was a doctoral researcher. Meeting a bunch of people whom I don’t know, and then I’m supposed to “network” and “small-talk”. Ugh… There were times when I thought that maybe I’m just not a social person, that I just don’t have a talent for small talk, and that my CV and credentials should speak for themselves, no need to “brag” about them.1
Networking is actually really great!
Today, I am convinced that networking is a must for developing your career path and for the job search. And – surprise – I’ve come to really enjoy networking – as long as it is networking my way2. So, for all of you who think that you really hate networking, here come some tips and ideas:
Networking tips (not just) for introverts
- Reassess your definition of networking! It’s not restricted to what is shown in the picture above. Networking is so much more: It’s being helpful, it’s sharing your experience and knowledge with others, it’s genuinely caring about others and showing real interest in them! It’s about being authentic and establishing a personal connection.
- Respect yourself and your energy and value your talents. So you are really good at 1:1 conversations, listening carefully & showing genuine interest in other people? Then focus on developing meaningful relationships with less people instead of putting yourself under pressure and collecting hundreds of contacts!
- Find your positive why & your goal. Why are you putting in the time and effort? Don’t just do it because somebody told you it’s a must.
Enjoy the summer & have fun networking (your way)!
Dr. Iris Köhler – The Scientist Coach
1 I sometimes also got the feeling that there was something wrong about preferring to be on my own or spending time with just one or two good friends, instead of being in a big group. If this resonates with you, I wholeheartedly recommend that you watch this TED talk by Susan Cain, and read her book “Quiet. The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”
2 If you want to learn more about “Networking for people who hate networking”, there’s a really good book with the same title, by Devora Zack.
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