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An Introvert's Guide to Networking During a Pandemic, by Anna Langmuir, Student, The University of British Columbia

Ah, networking! Can we agree it's an introvert’s worst nightmare?! I’m sure many of us would rather put pins in our eyes than attend a five-hundred-person networking convention, or awkwardly amble around handing out resumes and business cards. For an introvert, networking is not only anxiety-inducing, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting. Luckily there are ways to make the process a little bit easier. 


Whether it’s making the most of your close personal relationships, taking advantage of the current COVID-related restrictions, or increasing your online presence, there are many introvert-friendly ways to network effectively. Here are a few tips and tricks to make networking more stress-free for introverts. 
 

Make the Best out of a Bad Situation


The current state of the world isn’t exactly ideal, but when it comes to networking, we can try to make the best out of a bad situation. Introverts may find a kind of guilty pleasure in the current climate. Being forced to spend more time at home also means that there’s a great excuse to avoid all unnecessary physical and social contact! While it may seem like the worst time in the world to network, for introverts, networking just got much easier.  


Most networking events are now digital, which removes much of what makes them so stressful and exhausting for introverts. Would you rather attend an in-person networking convention with hundreds of people, or sit in the comfort of your own home and simply leverage your online presence? 


If you’ve considered attending a networking event but are put-off by the idea of large crowds, then join a virtual event. Where you would have previously made only local connections, digital networking opens the door to endless new possibilities. 

 

Go Online 

Establishing yourself online is not just a professional asset, in the current climate, it’s crucial. With businesses, events, and just about everything else transitioning to the digital realm due to this pandemic, it is has become just as important for us to move our own professional and personal achievements online.  
 

  • Polish up your social media accounts: Refine your LinkedIn profile, put your profession (or your desired one) in your social media bios, and join job-specific Facebook groups. 

  • Make sure you’re staying active on social media: There’s no need to leave the house, take just 10 minutes a day to interact with accounts and posts that inspire you. If your goal is to one day work in marketing, follow inspiring marketing professionals and take a few minutes during your morning coffee break to like and comment on their posts. This not only increases the likelihood of building a relationship with the individual, but also elevates your online presence, making it easier for other aspiring or established professionals to come across your account.  

 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Existing Contacts (i.e. Friends and Family) 


A large part of what makes networking so intimidating is the idea of reaching out to total strangers. It goes without saying that meeting new people is the key to networking, but there is no reason that this can’t be done through existing close connections.  


Maybe your friend is close with someone that works for a company you’re interested in, or maybe a family member happens to have connections with someone who is interviewing for an exciting internship. Whoever it is, your network and professional opportunities can be increased tenfold simply by reaching out to your nearest and dearest for help. Whether it’s a cousin, a dad, a best friend, an old acquaintance: reach out and ask! Not to mention, ties with close friends and family greatly increases the probability for new relationships to be more long-lasting and meaningful. If this feels intimidating, write a list of the people you’re closest to: Start with your closest friends and family to get more comfortable with the idea of reaching out. With time, you may feel confident enough to also rebuild old connections. 


Despite the current restrictions, people all over the world are more within reach and more eager to make meaningful connections than ever before. Though forming new relationships can be particularly difficult for introverts, now really is the best time to go online, leverage your social media and job platforms (like this one), and reach out to those closest to you.