Notworking for Introverts

bad_handshake_01There are two words that go together like vegetarian and meatloaf: introvert and networking.

You haven’t worked for months, okay years. You need income. Your freelance poetry career hasn’t been as lucrative as expected. Face it, it’s not easy when you know only five people and one of them is you.

You need a larger network.

Trying to grow your network from zero to more than zero is a daunting task. Unfortunately, being creative, sensitive, and all those other wonderful things introverts are, isn’t going to help you meet an obnoxious extrovert who will hire you.

You need to move outside of your shell. That’s not easy. But it’s not impossible. Here are some helpful tips that will transform any antisocial hermit into a semi-social recluse:

  • Set small, achievable goals like looking at the want ads without becoming nauseated.
  • Make a networking list of every person you know. Don’t include the people you’ve been observing from your room with a telescope.
  • Go to networking meetings and conferences. Start slowly. Drive to the venue, sit outside in your car, and then drive home. After four or five years, enter a meeting and then immediately walk out. Success! Reward yourself with a dinner-for-one at a four-star restaurant.
  • If you actually attend a networking event, take an extroverted friend along. Better yet, have your extroverted friend pose as you, interview for a job, tell your new boss she’s getting plastic surgery, and then you’ll take it from there.
  • When you finally contact someone, ask for advice, not a job. If you meet with them, ask complimentary questions that indicate you’ve done your research, such as: “How have you been so successful after being convicted of insider trading?”
  • Always send thank you notes after meeting people. Never begin the letter with “You may remember me. I was the nervous, shaking woman with the sweaty armpits.”
  • Networking can be very stressful and emotionally exhausting. Give yourself time to recharge. After seven or ten years, try it again.

Do You go Both Ways or are You Ambi-Curious?

dr_jekyll_mr_hyde_02Many people have varying degrees of introversion or extroversion. For example, a slightly introverted person can tolerate being in large groups of people, although not in large groups comprised of excited bride-to-be’s named Britany. A mildly extroverted person doesn’t mind taking solitary walks in the woods with his dog, as long as he can talk the canine’s ear off.

An ambivert is someone who has the qualities of both introverts and extroverts. They essentially can go both ways. Some enjoy being the center of attention at parties but also appreciate a quiet evening alone in the back of their closet.

The following chart can help you decide if you are an ambivert or just ambi-curious.

You are an ambivert if: You are ambi-curious if:
You enjoy socializing with large groups, but also like spending time with smaller groups of large people. You enjoy spending time alone while engaging in lively conversation with your living room furniture.
You like talking to optometrists but can’t make eye contact with examination charts. Your contact lenses give the impression one of your eyes is looking for the nearest exit.
You can adjust your personality based on the company you are with – as long as the company isn’t trying to sell you a first class ticket on the Jupiter Shuttle. You can only adjust your personality by sticking your finger in a light socket.
Some people describe you as quiet, and others say you’re very sociable. One of your personalities is not being honest with you.
You can be the life of the party until too much small talk causes you to collapse. Your jaw locks while attempting to break out in song.
You enjoy group sex but are too nervous to remember everyone’s names. You go to orgies but spend the night standing by the condom buffet.
You keep asking yourself, “Why am I so quiet?” You keep telling yourself to “stop asking me why I’m so quiet!”