Illustration of introvert trying to network
Spending time with others might be hard, but preparing for your future doesn't have to be. (Illustration by Maya Vargas, Scripps College)

How To Network When You’re an Introverted College Student

When you’re an introvert, putting yourself out there can be hard; as a student, however, it’s important to prepare for your career, so learn how to do it effectively.

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Illustration of introvert trying to network

When you’re an introvert, putting yourself out there can be hard; as a student, however, it’s important to prepare for your career, so learn how to do it effectively.

Being a college student can be daunting, especially since these are the last four years before you sign yourself away to a career. During this time, many students get caught up in the college experience and focus on all of the social aspects of being a young adult. However, with the future fast approaching, it’s important not to forget to network with other people in order to make a nice transition from college into a career.

The key goal of networking is to be able to meet many people with the same interests as you. When you network, you gain valuable knowledge, possibly leading to rewarding work out of college.

A big part of networking is being able to speak with people and being able to talk about your good qualities. Learning how to network may be hard for introverts, since it can be difficult for them to speak their minds and communicate.

Introversion Versus Extroversion

Introversion and extroversion are terms that describe someone’s personality. The terms gauge a person’s ability to be around people in social settings. Introvert, Dear actually describes introverts as people who don’t like to have too much people time. Certain social experiences will make them uncomfortable or extremely tired. Introverts are the type of people who do their best work when they’re alone and have the time to think things through and get lost in their head. This is one of the main distinctions between introverts and extroverts.

Extroverts are people who thrive on being around other people. They like to collaborate with others and like to work together on group projects. Extroverts like to network and make quick connections with people, which is tiring for introverts. While an introvert values deep conversation with close friends, extroverts love to talk with anyone at any time. Extroverts will walk up to someone and compliment their shirt or ask them about their day if the person looks down.

Why It’s Important To Network

It’s important to network so you can gain support and advice from people in the career field that you’re hoping to enter. According to Forbes, networking is an important aspect of making yourself noticeable. When you graduate college and have no experience, you’re virtually nonexistent in the industry you’re trying to make headway in.

As an example, job opportunities will go to people who have some kind of experience, like an internship, rather than to the person who has no experience at all.

The main thing about networking is to get people to notice you, and introverts like to stay unnoticed and in the background. Since this is a common occurrence, it may prevent introverts from putting themselves out into the world.

Many networking tips are geared toward extroverts, and it can be hard for introverts to apply these tips to themselves. Networking can already be a hard task, but it may become an even bigger task for introverts and shy people. It’s nothing to worry about once you master what works best for you.

Here Are Five Tips to Keep in Mind

1. Prepare

An important thing to do, The Muse says, is to prepare yourself before you approach the idea of networking. Get your thoughts together and try to figure out what it is you’re trying to convey. If you’re networking in hopes of making yourself marketable, then you should try to figure out your best qualities and how to market them.

Preparing can also mean getting yourself in the right mindset to talk to people for a long period of time. Do the things that make you happy, and boost your mood before you get out there.

2. Ask for a Job To Do

If you give yourself a job to do at an event, it will give you a sense of purpose. While this keeps you busy, it also brings the people toward you instead of you approaching them. If you’re volunteering at the food table, someone might start up a conversation with you while they’re grabbing a drink of water. Doing this puts you in direct line of contact with people while keeping you comfortable.

3. Tell Yourself the Right Thing

Forbes mentions that if you convince yourself that you like talking and networking with strangers, then it will ease the pain of having to do so. This is a way to psychologically train yourself into thinking you like something when you actually don’t.

This method can work for a lot of things, not just trying to make yourself sociable. Saying you will be successful is more helpful than thinking you will fail all the time.

4. Wear Something That Makes You Stand Out

Wear a piece of clothing that you normally don’t, like a bold color or a different texture. This will make you stand out to people. This is another way to make people notice you and want to approach you first.

Once they come up to you, think of them as if they’re an old friend and catch up with them on some of the interesting projects you have going on.

HuffPost notes how wearing something that makes you stand out can be a conversation starter. You can either bring it up to someone you find interesting, or someone will approach you first.

5. Talk to One Person at a Time

While it may look good to talk to a big group of people all at once, introverts can’t do that so easily. The Ladders mentions that introverts value one on one time with people and thrive in closer settings.

Being in a big room with a lot people will make it harder for them to find somewhere to start. If the networking event is smaller, it’s easier for them to find one person and talk to them for a long period of time. Once you find that one person, make sure to make a real connection with them while also trying to market your skills and experience.

Get Out There!

Networking doesn’t have to be hard, and it can be a good way for you to make connections with people. If you prepare yourself correctly and put yourself in the right spot to invite conversation, it will be a breeze.

You may be nervous and sweating a bit, but without putting yourself out there, you inevitably close yourself off to the opportunities you can’t see. Opening a door to a great opportunity can be as simple as saying hello to someone.

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