Okay, So Maybe Networking Isn't So Bad

As a natural introvert, the idea of marching up to a stranger and striking up a conversation is enough to make me break out in a nervous sweat. While other kids were put on leashes because they would run wild around the stores in the mall, you could always find me right by my mom’s side. Therefore, you can imagine that the idea of talking to, e-mailing, or calling an important stranger whom I admire is not in my comfort zone. I get nervous. I’ve written a few times about networking (read those posts here and here) and even though I don’t have the easiest time with this idea, I know the importance of building up connections in your chosen field. That’s why I’ve made a promise to myself to get better at it.

I know what I want to do, and I know there are people who can offer advice about my chosen career, but I used to feel slimy contacting these people. I’m very aware of tight schedules, and I didn’t want to seem like a burden or a user. But I knew I needed to get over this. So I did. I wrote a bunch of e-mails to fellow alumni. It’s only been a day or so, but I already got an extremely sweet (and very helpful) e-mail back from an alum who had great information. Pow! Networking is do-able, even for the shy.

How did I overcome my phobia? I guess I realized that there is a difference between asking for advice and being like “GET ME A JOB!” I’m truly interested in what these people have to say about their careers and how they got to where they are. I don’t just care about the end result. I think most people are happy to offer some words of advice, and don’t feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable doing so. While I wouldn’t send an e-mail full of 15 different questions, I felt okay asking one or two specific things for that person to answer. Also, this sounds silly but it’s true, as a fairly shy person it was easier for me to network via e-mail since I had time to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted to say. I knew I was phrasing everything exactly like I wanted, as opposed to when you’re standing with that person ,hoping you don’t sound dumb. Hey, you have to start somewhere.

How do you feel about networking? Is it easy for you or are you still working on it like I am?

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