Networking For Introverts

A close up of two people's hands shaking.

By Jacqueline Riselay, CHRP - Future Ready Premium Program Career Coach with Student and Graduate Employment


You’ve heard it time and time again. To get a job, you need to network. But there’s just one problem…

You’re an introvert and you would rather eat dirt than go up to a complete stranger and try to strike up a conversation. 

I get it, I’m an introvert too. I have a small group of people I feel really comfortable with, and I would be completely fine if I never had to start a conversation with anyone outside of that circle again. But that’s not our reality. 

Our world was built for extraverts. The people who get the most opportunities tend to be the ones shouting “hey look at me, look what I can do” which is great for them, and honestly, sometimes I’m a bit envious of their ability to sing their own praises and talk to anyone at any time. But that’s just not who I am. 

So, what if I were to tell you that you, an introvert who would probably rather be snuggled cozily on the couch with a good book, could also effectively network without pushing yourself (too far) outside of your comfort zone?

When we think of networking, we often think of it as having to approach complete strangers at a crowded conference, a job fair, or some kind of speaking engagement. While those are all great places to network, if you are shy or introverted, that sounds less than ideal. 

So instead of jumping right into the deep end before you can swim, here are a few practical networking strategies that you can implement that are not quite as intimidating:


Use Your Current Connections

Networking does not always have to be about reaching out to people you don’t know yet. It is just as powerful to start with the connections that you already have. Perhaps you have a former colleague that you worked really well with and they have just started a new position somewhere. Reach out and congratulate them, then ask them to connect over coffee or just for a quick catch-up phone call. Or maybe you know someone who is working in a field that you are interested in. Connect with them and ask them about their experience. People loooooove to talk about themselves and share their stories. 


Start Online

Reaching out to someone virtually can be a lot less intimidating than trying to strike up a conversation in person. Start by getting your LinkedIn profile up to date. Then, send a quick message to people who have skills and knowledge in areas you are interested in to let them know that you’re impressed with their experience.


Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Create posts about things you are passionate about on LinkedIn. Every single one of us has something that we can offer, whether it’s networking advice, mental wellness tips, or even just that amazing family recipe that is too good not to share. Start by creating a post of your own and then follow, leave comments on, and engage with posts by others that really speak to you. I have personally put this practice into action by following @GregRoche (The Introverted Networker) on LinkedIn who talks about all of this and more in his LinkedIn posts and his weekly newsletter, which I would highly recommend subscribing to!


Sign Up for an In-Person Course/Class

Making connections can sometimes be easier if it feels like there is already a shared purpose. Find a professional or personal development course in your area and sign up for it. This will put you in the same place as others who already share at least one common interest with you and you can start building connections from there. 


Something important to remember about networking is that you need to ease into asking people for any kind of opportunity. Don’t start by reaching out and asking for something. In the world we live in, everyone is busy and stretched for time. If you are just trying to take from someone, they might not have much to give. Instead, start by offering them something that might be of value to them, which can be something as simple as validation or admiration. You can start by sending a message saying “Hey, I really appreciated the post you wrote on topic ABC; it helped me find some clarity on problem XYZ that I was facing. I would love to connect with you further.” This is a great starting point and is not asking for much of them other than them accepting a connection request. 

It is also important to note that networking takes time. Just like Rome was not built in a day, your network will not be either, so don’t get too discouraged if opportunities do not present themselves immediately. 

And finally, as difficult as it can be for us introverts, sometimes the best opportunities come from pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Just remember that at the end of the day, we are all just humans stumbling through this crazy thing called life and no one really has it all figured out. 

Happy(ish) networking; you've got this!