Growing your network as an introvert

So we’ve established the necessity and value of multiple connections in your professional life (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/17/you-are-the-sum-of-your-connections/).

Connect- it doesn't hurt
Connect- it doesn’t hurt

But do you go about obtaining and maintaining these connections? Well, if you are an outgoing type, than making connections should be a breeze- you simply talk to people, call then, chat them up and connect with them on social media (and keep their cards in the rolodex).

But what if you’re an Introvert?

What if mingling or “networking” isn’t really your thing? What if you shy from social interactions with people you don’t know, and think that calling people you don’t know is simply too embarrassing? Well, since we are in 2015, there’s an easy solution. It’s called the INTERNET. And using internet tools such as email, social media and CRM you can easily avoid most of the awkwardness associated with making new connections.

But let’s start with the easy part- regardless of what you like or not, you are bound to meet and talk to new people- be it when meeting customers, attending professional seminar or even on your leisure time. And since you’ve already talked to them (delivered a presentation, participated in a sales call, whatever) you can easily reach out to them later and “claim” the connection. Simply look them up in the appropriate social network (in 99% of cases it would have something to do with your profession, so LinkedIn would be it) and send a connection request. That’s it.

No words spoken.

No awkward email introduction needed.

No awkwardness on the receiving end.

And if you want to connect to someone you haven’t actually met? No need for “extra smoothness” (as you recall we’ve met at …) – all you need to do is to write how you’ve met (or came to know), what is it that you want and why. Something like- I’ve attended a presentation you deliver last week at the conference and would like to add you to my professional network.

With time this will become easier and more natural, and as your network grows your visibility will grow and voila- people will start contacting you, asking to connect with you. Be kind and reciprocate. It costs nothing an has enormous value to your career, even if it is not obvious right now.

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Your online footprint management is vital for your career

Online footprint across platform
Online footprint across platform

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Its’ all so easy and effortless, we don’t stop for one second to thing how our online behavior can affect our career. But like so many other things that can appear small and insignificant at the time, over a long timeframe our online actions accumulate and can have a profound impact on our career.

Is it possible that what we post on Facebook can affect our next job? It sure can, for 2 reasons.

The first is that in the “online” world our professional lives are inseparable from our personal lives. Everything is free for everyone to see, so there’s no point in maintaining an impeccable persona on “professional” sites (LinkedIn, Xing for example) and behave rudely on Facebook and twitter. It’s all the same to the web.

The other reason for the significance of our online behavior is that everything we do online leaves a mark somewhere on the web, and it’s now impossible to erase this “online footprint”. Every ugly selfie you’ve posted, untasteful twit and even innocuous detail you’ve mentioned somewhere online might one day come back to haunt you. It is almost futile to try to resist this (try shutting down ALL your social media accounts, email, and subscription to random websites etc.

So given that everything we do somewhere online is visible to all and will remain there forever, how should one conduct? Try these following tips:

  1. Be kind and ditch negativity- the web has endless memory. Everything posted lasts forever. So it is much better to spread kindness than rudeness. And don’t start battles over the web- things tend to escalate quickly online (we don’t see or fear the other person) and people have long memory, too. As a rule, if you can contribute something positive, do. If not, shut up about it.
  2. Be honest- no point in lying although some will try (a guy a know from my service in the navy boasts in his LinkedIn profile that he graduated first from the Naval academy, and commanded elaborate drill with US 6th All lies). Keep whatever information you want for yourself, but never lie. Remember- potential employer know how to Google and compare your’ various profiles.
  3. Be positively active- your online footprint today, is, in fact, your business card and portfolio tied together. If you have enough google references- it means you are important. Appear on many entrepreneurs’ website- it means you in the entrepreneurial business. So if hiding isn’t an option anymore, you might as well do the opposite and contribute as much as you can.

Remember, you online activities is like a trail of breadcrumbs you carve on the face of the internet. It might just lead something great your way- you just need to make sure you leaving the quality stuff behind, and keep all the negativity to yourself.