An introvert’s advice for networking


There are two particular things that most of us hate about having to network. 

  • One is its baldly transactional nature. “the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers.”
  • The other is that needing to do it feels like a vulnerability.

Having to put yourself in the hands of a stranger or near stranger for help is stressful, too. Add to that any kind of time pressure — say, if you’ve suddenly lost your job or you’re in the midst of family upheaval — and you’re likely to feel bad about yourself at a time when you need to appear to be on solid footing.

Now it’s time to get OK with seeking help for yourself — that’s the key to making networking work.

  1. Here’s a little secret: At some point, every one of us will have to ask for help from someone else
  2. The key to overcoming your fears about networking is to practice a little bit every day — and to do it when you don’t need specific help. I call it “keeping in loose touch”: You pop up now and again to your connections and acquaintances (old and new), without any obligation to follow up or see each other in person
  3. The guiding principle for easier networking is this: Nurture it before you need it.

The effect of loose touch is to put you into someone’s consciousness for a few minutes.  

Shared interests are fertile ground for loose touch, even with professional contacts or as you scan the headlines, you can share a story or two that you know are of interest to people I know, along with a short note: “This made me think of you. What’s your take? And how are you?”

The whole point of loose touch is that it’s not a burden. The more obligations you end up with, the less chance you have of keeping up.

Just spending 10 minutes a day on loose touch can keep you connected with a lot of people.