February 19, 2013, 2:16 PM — If you're a naturally introverted person, getting close and sharing with people can feel unnatural and difficult, but it's not impossible. The first thing you have to realize is that you are not alone. Many of your peers, celebrities, dignitaries and people from all walks of life are introverts and yet they manage to overcome it, and so can you.
Even if you're inherently shy, you still need to network if you want to advance in your IT career. Why? Check out these stats from different publications regarding networking's role in today's career paths:
The Wall Street Journal reports that 94% of successful job hunters claimed that networking had made all the difference for them.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 63.4% of all workers use informal job finding methods.
Only 4-10% of the people who apply to jobs online are successful in obtaining employment. (Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute)
In other words, networking works. Whether you're looking for professional development, a new job or just trying to climb the tech ladder, it's easy to see why it's so important.
How do I break the ice? What should I talk about? Where do I start? If you're reading this article, chances are you may be asking yourself one or more of these questions. To find answers we asked industry professionals how they deal with the pressures of networking and how to keep the conversation going.
1. Rejection Happens, Get Over It
Rejection is a part of life and, in most cases, not something to be taken personally. You have to understand that the more you try something the better your results will be-that is, practice makes perfect. You will encounter people in your career and life who simply cannot or will not help you. Forget it, put it behind you and move on.
2. Remember That Networking Is a Two-Way Street
You may have trouble networking because you don't think you have anything significant, such as a job or a contact, to give back to someone who helps you. Chances are you may have something to offer that you didn't consider.
Related Story: How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People
"Helping others to succeed will help you to succeed. When making any type of connection, ask questions and listen intently," says Caitlin Sampson, career consultant and cofounder of Regal Resumes.
3. Play Off Your Strengths to Start?
"Start by assessing your strengths, says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners. Introverts often are good listeners, which is an enormous asset. Think about how you can use it to your advantage as you talk to people about who you are, what you can offer an employer and how you might help other networkers.