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Networking As an Introvert: Tips for Navigating the Adventures of Professional Networking


Silhouette of a woman wearing a professional skirt suit and holding a briefcase walking into a bright keyhole in a brick wall. The woman's shadow is of her also wearing a cape
You're a super human whether you realize it or not!

Hey there, lovely readers! I hope you're all in the mood for a bit of laughter, a sprinkle of insights, and a dollop of inspiration. Grab your favorite cozy blanket, a cup of your go-to beverage, and settle in for a tale that's part comedy, part wisdom, and all about thriving as an introvert – whether you're mingling in person or conquering the virtual realm. As we embark on this adventure, join me, the former genetic counselor turned graphic designer, on a journey where awkward moments turn into triumphs, and social anxiety takes a backseat to our quirky charm.

Before we begin, let's clear the air about something: being an introvert isn't just having a preference for cozy pajamas and witty thoughts, it's like having a superpower. No, seriously! A disappearing act worthy of the Invisible Woman herself! But hold up, we're not talking about having social anxiety here. Imagine this: introverts are like savvy energy accountants who know that social interactions deduct energy points faster than a kid spends allowance at a candy store. So, as we embark on this adventure, imagine introverts as secret agents of observation. Social anxiety, on the other hand, is like a cat who accidentally got invited to the dog park – terrified and trying to escape. So, picture this: I'm an introvert – a wallflower with a knack for avoiding eye contact. Add a pinch of social anxiety, and you've got yourself a perfect cocktail for networking disasters, right? Wrong! Fast forward through some sweaty-palm handshakes, a few awkward conversations and a series of virtual meetups, and I'm here to share some tools and tips that help me navigate my networking fears - introvert style.

1. Embrace the Awkwardness:

Imagine me at a networking event, desperately clutching a glass of wine of a cup of coffee like it's my lifeline. Yep, that's me. But… Instead of hiding in the corner, I decided to wear my awkwardness like a badge of honor. I strut up to people, introduce myself, and slip in a self-deprecating joke. Voila! Instant icebreaker. Turns out, people appreciate a good laugh – even if it's at my own expense.

2. Virtual Chats:

From genetic counselor to graphic designer, I regularly find myself facing the challenge of mingling with artistic geniuses and design divas. Intimidating is an understatement! (We talked about imposter syndrome, remember?) But here's the plot twist: the coin dropped recently and I realized that my journey is my secret weapon. So, now, I hop onto virtual chats armed with stories of my career transition and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Boom! Suddenly, I am the relatable introvert people wanted to chat with.

3. Rally Your Allies:

I can't stress this enough - behind every introvert's success story is a squad of supporters who've got their back. Mine? A mix of friends, family, and fellow introverts who not only empathize with the struggle but celebrate introversion as a unique strength. With their support, I've embraced my ability to reflect, strategize, and form meaningful connections. And speaking of support, imagine this: you, conquering the networking maze with your trusty sidekick by your side – a shield of comfort, encouragement, and friendly familiarity amidst the roaring sea of new connections.

4. The Guidebook to Seeking Help:

Therapists, mentors, and wise owls – they're like the Gandalfs of our introverted world. When networking nerves hit me, I don't hesitate to seek guidance. Yes, I have some social anxiety in the mix, and that's okay. These magical beings arm me with strategies to tackle my fears and channel my inner extrovert when the situation demands it.

5. The Comparison Monster's Defeat:

Ah, the comparison game – it's like a maze with no exit. But listen up: everyone's journey is as unique as a fingerprint. Don't let someone else's highlight reel dim your spotlight. Embrace your quirks, your progress, and your individuality. You're crafting a masterpiece, my friend, and it's one-of-a-kind.

6. Practice Makes Introvert Awesome:

Networking is like a dance – the more you practice, the smoother your moves become. Start small, like striking up a chat with yourself in front of the mirror, or even just smiling at your reflection. Graduate over time. With practice, networking becomes less like a thriller and more like a rom-com.

7. Know Your Introverted Limits

Think of it as being your personal social navigator. Just like a seasoned partygoer who ducks out before the karaoke turns cringeworthy, introverts should have that same sixth sense for gracefully bowing out when the energy well starts running dry. It's not about pulling a Houdini act, but more about safeguarding your sanity. Listen to your gut, cherish your recharge moments, and always remember that even the slickest socialites need their R&R.


8. Self-Care Shenanigans:

Treat yourself like the VIP introvert you are. Take breaks, indulge in your favorite hobbies, and recharge your social batteries. For me, its being artistic, reading a book, or watching trash TV. Whatever those hobbies are for you, remember that self-love is your secret weapon for navigating networking both online and in person while keeping your sanity intact. Because, if you do not take care of yourself, you might end up feeling like a deflated balloon lost in a maze of chatty extroverts, and trust me, that's a tangled web even Spider-Man would struggle with!

So there you have it, my fellow introverts, networking novices, and champions of the quirky path! Networking might seem like an cosmic puzzle, but armed with a pinch of peculiar charm, a sprinkle of creativity, and a heap of self-adoration, you can conquer it like the introverted wizard you truly are.

Remember, it's not about morphing into an extrovert – it's about embracing your introvert wizardry and letting it sparkle. And if I, the genetic counselor turned graphic designer, can conjure connections, so can you!

Wishing you laughter, memorable connections, and a lifetime of introverted adventures.

Until next time,

Nira

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Nira Johnson

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