At whatever point you happen to be in your career you likely understand the importance of building a supportive, encouraging, and challenging network around you.
This network can be made up of former college roommates, colleagues, your ex-boss, best friends, and family.
Some of us, however, are introverted or shy and might find it more difficult to work through the anxiety to build a network that can support us as we look to achieve our career goals and dreams. What do you do then?
Here are four tips an introvert can take to begin to build a strong and supportive network.
Begin with one
Don’t be overwhelmed. Start simply and work to develop a single relationship. You might find yourself more comfortable communicating with someone one-on-one, rather than attending a group. Identify someone from your job or school and invite them to join you for coffee for a few minutes. These simple interactions are the first steps in forming deeper bonds that can lead the relationship to a place of mutual support. In addition, this simple step can motivate you reach out to others or take on some of the other ideas noted below.
Use Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can provide a great, low-anxiety, way to develop relationships with some of your contacts. You have time to carefully craft a message to someone or to consider a response to a post or a question by someone else. Social media also makes it easier to reach out to others and expand your network, starting with a simple initial “friend” request or follow. With social media it’s never been easier to expand your network beyond those you are already close to.
Start a small group
There are many opportunities to join groups, both in-person and virtual, through a variety of sources but for the introvert it might make good sense to start your own group with a few people you already know. You could start a book club with a handful of friends and open things up for them to invite others. Soon you’ve expanded your circle and widened your network while also making some new friends and building community.
Enlist the help of friends
Finally, of course, let your friends know that you are interested in building your network. Ask them to introduce you to others in their networks who might share similar interests with you. Again, the power of social media can help ease the anxiety around introductions and facilitate getting to know someone a little before meeting up in person.
If you’re an introvert or experience social anxiety these suggestions can help ease the way to building an effective network to help you attain the success in your career that you’re looking for.