My fellow introverts, I know your struggle!
An office environment can be challenging for those of us who work better in solitude. I try to avoid sparking up a conversation at the coffee maker at all costs. Then it seems like when I do strike up a casual conversation, it's totally awkward (networking for awkward girls coming soon lol). Let's just say I'm known to blurt out a Joan Clayton quote or a Hangover II reference from time to time.
However, being new in my office has challenged me to learn how to be smart about networking and get comfortable with casually communicating with other great people in the office. Not only have I learned to speak to others, I've learned to communicate my strengths, my goals and even my value with those I work closely with. Now, I'd like to share my strategies with you.
So introverts, here's your guide to easy, effective, and non-awkward networking in the office.
Be Strategic With Your Approach.
It can be overwhelming to think about all the people in your office you should be meeting. However, getting strategic about who you meet can scale down the amount of people you actually NEED to meet and help you communicate effectively. Find out who's who. Network with people who could be of help to you. I work in accessories so I make sure to introduce myself to the fashion and beauty interns because they work closely with the same brands that I do. Who's to say they won't be employed at one of those places after their internship? Also make sure you communicate to them what you do, your interests and maybe even a little previous experience. They know what you do, you know what they do. If ever they need someone with your skills, they know where to find you. See, you don't have to try and meet everyone, just the one's who can help you get closer to your end goal.
Set a Daily Networking Goal.
Each day I set a small office-networking goal for myself. This goal usually coincides with whatever my long term goals are. I ultimately would like to get into more editorial work. So, my daily goal maybe something like: introduce yourself to two people on the editorial staff by end of day. Simple, doable and will get me noticed by people who could get me to where I'd like to be. Purposefully interact with people in the office. See, networking isn't so scary after all!
Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions!
This may sound way too simple but it's super effective. Introverts don't always feel comfortable leading the conversation. A great way to start a conversation is to ask a question. This shows the person you are speaking with that you are interested in wanting to know about them and also leaves you without having to do too much talking. However, make sure you are asking the RIGHT questions. I go into office interactions to initially identify if a person and I can be mutually beneficial to one another. The way to do this is to ask questions. “How long have you been here?" “What did you do previously?" You can even ask what kind of things they like doing outside of work. Before too long, you'll arrive at something you two have in common and BOOM you've networked effectively. Look at you, getting out of your shell and thangs!
Lastly, don't underestimate the power of a hello in passing, a smile in the elevator and a simple, “How's your day going?" People take notice of kindness and sometimes these small gestures can spark up conversations that lead to opportunities.
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