Our website is set to allow the use of cookies. For more information please visit our Privacy and Cookies Policy. By continuing to use this website or clicking “CLOSE” you are indicating you are happy with the use of cookies as set out in our Privacy and Cookie Policy.


Find people and boost your career prospects: the shy person’s guide to networking

Though you may well enjoy spending time with people, you may not necessarily be an extrovert. Being naturally outgoing and sociable are fantastic qualities to have, but not everyone can be the life and soul of the party – some of us are just more quiet and reserved than that. So does this mean that in an ever-more competitive job market, the wallflowers amongst us have the disadvantage? Do only the loud and ‘in-your-face’ people get a shot at landing the best jobs because they are naturals in the art of networking?

Of course not. Networking is about communication with a professional purpose in mind. So with these handy tips, you too can learn how to schmooze with the best of them and hopefully improve your job prospects.

Be Authentic

Networking is all about authenticity – doing interesting things will in turn make you a more interesting person to know. Value your hobbies and interests and always strive to improve in your chosen field. Did you know Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and Warren Buffet were all labelled introverts on the Myers-Briggs personality test? They all made authentic, outstanding contributions to the world without having to shout (or Tweet) about every little thing they did to anybody who would listen. They just quietly got on with things until their efforts could no longer be ignored, so you should aim to do the same. Your hard work should be rewarded as word gets around that you are the person ‘in the know’ about whatever it is you’re best at, and hopefully people will come to you for advice.

Follow People Online

Extend your online network far and wide. Follow people you admire on a professional level as well as people you know in real life who may have friends in your desired occupation. It may seem intimidating to add strangers to your online network – even if you have mutual connections – but building a bridge can be easy and you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable as long as you keep the message along the following lines: “Hello, I noticed that you and I are both friends with XXXX and I’ve seen that you’re involved with XXXXX industry. Would you mind if I add you as a contact because I have the same career aspirations as you? I’m looking for advice about entering that field.” Most people would be flattered to read a message like this and will not mind dishing out advice in the slightest. Just make sure that before you do ask people for advice, you strike up a friendly conversation beforehand and don’t forget to thank them afterwards for their time and effort.

Talk To Strangers

We’re all taught about ‘stranger danger’ in school. So even as adults, we will therefore err on the side of caution when it comes to talking to people we don’t know. But in some ways, never talking to people outside your immediate circle can actually harm your career prospects, as you’re limited to sticking only within your social comfort zone and missing key advice and input from people who might have made it to their dream job in ways you never thought possible. Sign up for industry networking events and open days, approach a few new faces at every event and find out their career journey. It may feel nerve-wracking to approach a stranger, but 95% of the time you will get a positive response from the other person. If you don’t, it’s their problem for being so rude, not yours.

If you’re looking for conversation starters, compliment another person’s strengths. For example, praise a speaker’s presentation after they’ve finished and talk about what you liked, or find a story in the news that you find interesting and relevant to your industry and strike up a conversation about that. You may also want to prepare a list of questions to ask people at the event, to get an idea of general opinion on a particular subject.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Once you have started to build your network of career contacts, it is always wise to keep the lines of communication open should you want to approach them in the future for more advice and job prospects. If someone has been a great help to you, find their address and send them a ‘thank you’ card as a really nice and memorable gesture. Alternatively, a call or ‘thank you’ email will suffice.

Another idea is to share information with relevant contacts – relevant blog posts or stories online that you think might be of use to them, for example. Make sure to comment on the things you read. You don’t have to create a mailing list or a blog, but demonstrate to those looking at your social media profiles that you’re here to discuss business and be interesting with it! It all comes back to showing that you’re authentic and really value your profession. Be the kind of person someone would want to network with and you shouldn’t go far wrong.