By: Gio Gonzalez
To you it all feels contrived; you don’t enjoy it in the slightest and you grit their teeth pretending you aren’t ready to scream inside. You’re an introvert at a networking event and your goal is simple: survive and make useful contacts. With any luck, this event will land you the job you’re looking for and you may make a professional connection or two. But first, you just need to get through it!
Social media crutches
Greeting someone in person is much easier after breaking the ice on social media. LinkedIn and Twitter are going to be your greatest allies in online networking. Public relations professionals essentially live for online networking.Additionally, you can look up your peers and get to know them. It is a lot easier to approach a fellow student than a professional already in the industry. You never know when one of your fellow PRSSA members will point you in the direction of a job.
Let’s face it, you aren’t charismatic, but that just means you’ll have to fake it. Anyone can do it, but it’s a conscious effort for introverts like us. Think of an extrovert you know. They’re all over the place! They’re quick to introduce themselves with a welcoming smile and a firm handshake. It’s time to mimic extroverts until introductions become a comfortable experience. Networking isn’t going anywhere and itis up to you to adapt, overcome, and survive that networking event to land that job you’re looking for. Faking charisma is an established strategy.
It’s not always an issue of simple introversion. For some itis social anxiety stemming from any number of reasons from low self-esteem to just being afraid of meeting new people. Socializing can feel like a game of chess and you don’t know the rules. I’m not qualified to give advice to help people overcome their social anxiety and tackling the baggage causing their issues, but I know of someone who is.
That someone is CSULB’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). If that anxiety has a source, it may be in your best interest to get to the root of the problem and get on your way to networking unobstructed by social anxiety. The cost is already covered by your tuition, so get on in there and overcome your barriers to the start of your career.
Not very many people actually like to network. Many of us groan at the thought of having to meet a myriad of strangers, but you’re not going to go far with a negative mindset. Your networking event should begin and end with an “I can do this” mentality.
You’re introverted and that’s okay! Plenty of introverts attend networking events and get by just fine. With the tips I gave you you’ll be able to survive and thrive in any networking event with just a little self-work. You’ll be indistinguishable from an extroverted networking champion.
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