4-10 September 2015 #774

Ask Anjana Anything: Let’s connect

If you are an introvert and feel uncomfortable networking, like any other skill in life, you can learn it
Anjana Rajbhandary

Hi all,

Networking is one of the best ways to meet people and expand your social and professional circle. Social media has made it easy for people to build connections online, yet in real life it can still be challenging to communicate with people. I could not utter a word in school to strangers, but now I have no problem approaching anyone about anything really. Hence, if someone is an introvert and feels uncomfortable networking- all I can say is that like any other skill in life, you can learn it: you just have to practice. You need to give yourself a little nudge or a bigger push. Trust me, you can do it.

Keep your questions coming to [email protected] or @AnjyRajy 

Dear Anjana

Being an introvert and a generally quiet person, I am not skilled at networking, which I am now realising is super important to get ahead in life and at work. I like to keep to myself and lack the courage to chat with strangers at official settings. Even when I do talk to people, it doesn’t extend beyond the general introduction. I feel I am too careful with my words and therefore generally refrain from participating in group conversations. I wish I could be more carefree and express myself better even in the presence of people I am not well-acquainted with. A few words of suggestion?

RS

AR: You can definitely get better at networking as you are already making an effort. I understand how it can be intimidating but you are aware how important networking is to move forward in life and at work. It is good that you are cautious with your words but don’t be so cautious that you do not get to say much.

A barrier for introverts about approaching people is the fear of not being liked by another or not being able to cast a good impression. It is practice, no matter how skilled you are with networking- everyone will not like you and you will have some awkward conversations. The trick is to realise it and walk away when that does happen. It is trial and error.

Do not assume the worst. Generally people like to hear from other people and like to be approached for conversations. We are social being and we just connect with people. One of the best ways to seem interesting is to be interested in the other person and what they have to say. Ask questions and listen to the answers while paying attention to your body language: make eye contact, do not fold your arms and don’t fiddle with your cell phone.

Generally some people do not know what to do with their hands so perhaps holding a glass (in a social setting) and a notebook (in a professional setting) may help. It is okay to even talk about yourself, as a good conversationalist will also ask you questions and not go on a monologue. Just try to be real and genuine, present yourself with integrity without losing your core values.

It is okay to mess up, it’s just practice. Networking is an investment and with the right practice you can definitely do great. Good luck.

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