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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.
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