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September 4, 2014 at 1:00 AM

3-step networking for introverts

If you are looking for a new job, you have no doubt been told over and over about the importance of networking.

However, perhaps you are that wonderful brand of person known as an introvert. We make up 40 percent of the population, after all. If so, exhortations to “get out and meet people” are bound to make you tense, nervous and possibly resentful.

I know just how you feel. Unfortunately, this does not change the fact that networking is vital to career success. Why? Because of that one incontrovertible career truth: It is who you know.

Employers are human. Humans prefer to minimize risk whenever possible. One way to do this is to work with people they know or who know people they know.

You, as an intelligent introvert, know this; it’s why you join professional and trade associations, attend classes and seminars, and drag yourself to networking events. But if you still feel tongue-tied once you get there, make it easy on yourself — memorize these deceptively simple one-liners for the three most common situations.

For starting a conversation:What brought you here today?”

For pursuing a more in-depth career-oriented discussion: “Tell me about your career path. How did you get to where you are now?”

For saying goodbye on a positive note:It’s been great talking with you. Could you introduce me to anyone else who might be a good connection for me?”

Of course, many other conversational gambits are available to you and, if you want, you can vary your approach. But you don’t have to. You can depend on these same three easy lines for years and years. No one will notice, because the most important part of any conversation is not the talking part, it’s the listening part. And, as an introvert, you no doubt already have a lot of practice doing that!

Bonus tip: Your new acquaintances, like potted plants, need regular attention. You will naturally remember to send a note of thanks after that initial contact, but also consider passing along clippings or links to interesting articles from time to time, sending business their way, and/or introducing them to people they might like or who might be of help to them.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career advancement, job search, networking, relationships

Blog contributors

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

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