In a world that values small talk and outgoing charm, extroverts seem to rule the world of networking. Introverts can feel overlooked and undervalued. However, networking is not just for extroverts. Introverts can network too, and arguably, do it better than extroverts! They call it connecting.
Let’s start by defining networking. Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries defines it as “a system of trying to meet and talk to other people who may be useful to you in your work.” Meet and talk. What is notably missing from this definition is loud events, small talk and crowds. It also does not say how many people constitute a network. Sometimes less is more. The quality of your network is determined by the strength of the connection, not by the number of people.
The only qualifier for a business connection is that they need to be useful to you in your work. Ouch. Does that mean you have to be manipulative and inauthentic? No!
Introverts are especially sensitive to being manipulated and have no tolerance for fakes. The “sleazy” approach appalls them, which is why introverts get freaked out at the very mention of networking. Authenticity is one of an introvert’s highest values. It is also their strongest asset in the world of networking. When you bring your real self to the world of networking, you bring fresh air and grace
Think about people who you have met in the past who impacted your career, or whose career you impacted in some way. How did you meet? Did you work together? Sit beside each other at a conference? Share a “moment” in a mutually difficult situation? Take a class? Whatever it was, they became part of your network. You liked or respected each other and kept in touch. Or lost touch. The point is: you met. I met an amazing mentor and friend when we literally bumped into each other escaping from a networking exercise. Both introverts.
Relax your face and remember to smile. It is amazing how this simple fix can change your life.
One of the things introverts do well is listen. So listen! Ask follow-up questions. Listen more. People will be impressed by how well you converse when they do all the talking!
Wear or carry something interesting or colourful that you have a story about. It acts like a green light at an intersection. A conversation is sparked and you are on your way to a new connection.
Approach people who look even more shy than you are. They will be grateful! Conversation starters that succeed begin with a shared experience, something that is going on in the environment: a barista with flair, how long you have been waiting, their cool shoes, the cost of organic eggs, children playing, a song playing in background.
Being prepared is another of your strengths so keep some tried and true icebreaker ideas in your toolbox - they will be ready when the opportunity arises.
You are good at picking up on the energy around you. If it feels like a waste of time, don’t torture yourself –leave.
Manage your anxiety in whatever way works best for you. Stay hydrated and nourished before important events. Avoid or limit alcohol intake.
Building your network is not nearly as important as maintaining your existing network. This is where the first word in the definition comes in: a system is what makes networking work. This means there is a set of principles and methods involved.
It is a rare person who sends out one application and gets the job. Most of us spend weeks or months combing the Job Bank, Indeed and other websites for something that appeals to us. Like it or not, job search is a numbers game. Simply put, the more often you apply, the more likely you will get a call. It is not an exact science because there are so many variables, just as there are in any other kind of sales (yes, you are selling something – you!). Assuming you fit the position and did your research, on average you can expect 3 interview calls for every 10 applications sent. Like most mathematical concepts though, there is more than one method for a successful solution and some methods are more effective than others.
Sometimes we think we know what we want, and we narrow our job search to the exclusion of all other possibilities – possibilities that could be close to perfect. That would be picky mode. Then there are the times we just send out application after application regardless of whether we fit or even want the job. That is desperation or lazy mode. Both situations result in fewer opportunities to sit in front of an employer in person (or on video) and show them just how awesome we really are.
Using the internet to your best advantage is one way to up your game. While in today’s world online job search is an essential tool, it is passive. In 2017, having an online presence is crucial for landing the kind of job you want. Whether it is a Facebook Page, YouTube video, LinkedIn profile or posting your resume on a job search engine, be visible! Show who you are, what you can do and how you can be the solution. The more creative and professional your marketing (yes, marketing!) is, the more likely the phone will ring. Have you noticed that the same job appears in more than one place when you are looking online? That’s because employers are playing the numbers game too. Ante up and go virtual. Your number is being called!
For more ideas on upping your game, check out the Hidden Job Market.
The 2 P’s of a Pandemic Job Search
The keywords for a pandemic job search are patience and persistence. While the numbers look daunting if you are out of work (BC Labour Market Stats August 2020) and if your industry (Industries Hardest Hit) is one of the most deeply affected, all is not lost. We are starting the process of recovery. As always, hard work and hope beat out talent and despair every time.
Be patient. Take the time to create a job search strategy. You could:
It looks as if BC will be relaxing some of the restrictions around businesses being locked down relatively soon. Will you have a job to go back to? Are you longing to get back, scared it might be too soon, somewhere in the middle or both at the same time? We will each have our own way of dealing with what happens going forward, both as a worker and as a citizen. The only right timing is your right timing.
If the fallout has you looking for a new job, the landscape of possibilities will have shifted substantially from what it was like in 2019, before the world twisted and turned into this new normal. More than ever, it will be essential to stand out from the crowd in some way. This is the time to hone in on what that is for you, to ramp up your confidence and self-awareness. If your self-marketing does not demonstrate who you are and what you have to offer, your chances of inspiring a recruiter to invite you in for an interview are slim to none. Their attention span is only a few seconds, so make those seconds count! Sending out résumés without taking the time to target them reduces your chances and increases the amount of time it takes to land a great job - in these unprecedented times, perhaps ANY job.
Looking for a job is hard work, as you know. It is definitely worth the effort. Explore your own career as if it were a movie with a plot twist at the end, an interesting theme and loads of character development. Recall the why, the when, the where and the how. Acknowledge your mentors, bosses, co-workers who supported you. Give your Academy Award speech to your family. There are lots of resources available online to help you out. Check them out; WorkBC and ALIS are a couple of my go to places for self-exploration and YouTube has loads of how-to videos. If you prefer to make it easier on yourself, consider hiring me!
Are you looking for a project to keep you busy and connected to your career story? This is a feel-good idea that will help when it comes time to put together a resume or answer questions in an interview.
The idea? Make a record of all the good things you have done in your career. Do not limit yourself to the things that are big. Maybe you are the person in the office I can depend on to start my day with a cheery good morning and a smile or a joke. Maybe you are the one I listen to in staff meetings because your perspective is always interesting. Maybe you saved my butt when I was overwhelmed.
If you connect better with pictures, create a poster or scrapbook with pictures of highlights of your career. For artistic types, you could even draw them! For those who really understand graphs, try making a graph in Excel organized in a way that makes sense to you. For people like me, stories work great. You could even make a video story. Whatever you do, be creative and have fun with it.
Include all the things you wish your boss or colleagues noticed you did. What will be they miss when you leave this job? No idea? Ask them!
These are uncertain times, and we have no idea what will happen to the economy when things go back to “normal.” If you have been laid off, or think a layoff is coming, there are things you can be doing to prepare for the upturn.
1. Find out how you will fare with references
Ask your manager how you have been doing, performance wise. This can be difficult to hear but it's better to be prepared than caught off guard. If you're doing well, ask what in particular stands out.
2. Review and record your career achievements
Hindsight is not always 20/20. It is sooooo much easier to keep track of achievements with a career journal. Do you remember...
Your top 1-2 achievements in the last 5 years for each position?
How can they be measured – saved dollars? time? awards? sales? accolades? customer appreciation?
Do you have the stories of those achievements to back them up?
It’s easier to collect this information while you’re still employed and surrounded by the evidence. Ask for their permission to be a reference and ask for a personal contact number to avoid problems getting in touch if they leave their job.
3. Optimize your resume
Finetune your resume against postings that appeal to you, using keywords as your guide. Take note of any gaps in requirements and look at ways to close the gaps by doing online learning. Take the time to create a killer cover letter.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile
Once your resume is updated, update your LinkedIn profile and picture. Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn.
5. Stay connected to friends, colleagues and social media
This is a perfect time to catch up with people who have drifted away as well as those you normally connect with regularly. More than any other time, they are sure to welcome your call! Remember to pay extra attention to people who you can help. Kindness and generosity of spirit are at the heart of connection.
6. Consider a career change
If you have been considering a different direction, but feeling a bit too comfortable, this is the time to explore other options. Research what you need to do to make it happen. Then take the first step.
How do you choose a career coach? How can you tell which one will be best for you? While technical skills from individual coaches may be more or less equal, it is often the "click" you get when you talk with someone that determines who you pick. You may think it is your intuition or gut instinct, but it is more likely your emotional response to the soft skills that a coach displays in your initial meeting that clinches it for you.
I was recently asked to weigh in on what soft skills I believe are most important in a career coach. Here is my response, along with the responses of several other career coaches. I'd say we are mostly all on the same page. What do you think is the mos important soft skill for a career coach?
Because you never know when you’ll need to use your résumé, the month of September has been designated “International Update Your Résumé Month” as an annual reminder for job seekers to review their résumé, LinkedIn profile, and other career documents. If you are asked for your résumé, you want to be able to provide it quickly. It can take time to gather your accomplishments, and you don’t want to forget something if you’re in a rush.
Here are some guidelines for updating your résumé:
• Is your work experience up to date? Need to add your current position? Now is also the time to review your accomplishments and make sure they are reflected in your résumé.
• Check your contact information. Make sure you’ve included your customized LinkedIn URL on your résumé, and any other relevant social media platforms or blogs where you are active.
• Update your education, training and certifications. Have you taken any classes in the last year? Earned a degree? Pursued a certification? Attended a job-related seminar?
Most important, make sure the résumé makes it clear who you are, what you’re good at, and what type of job you’re interested in. You have less than one minute to capture the attention of your résumé’s reader, so make it count. This is the 14th year for “International Update Your Résumé Month,” originally created by Career Directors International in 2001 to support job seekers worldwide.
If you are interested in a consultation, please contact Sandie Seymour at 778.928.8941. She is a certified résumé writer and a member of Career Professionals of Canada. She is also writing an upcoming book, No Job, No Hope, No Problem!
Sandie convinced her mother at the age of two that a set of books would make her much happier than a tricycle. Then came diaries, school projects and heartfelt poetry - a writer was born. Reading and writing have been constant and faithful lovers ever since. This blog is an attempt to release some of the fleeting thoughts and crazy ideas in a place that may become another form of diary, but this time, one that talks back! Would love to hear from anyone who is inspired to rebut, dig further, validate or in any way comment on what has been written.