You've met someone new, perhaps at an event or maybe as part of an informational interview, or possibly even on-line or on the phone, rather than face-to-face. What now? How do you keep the new connection alive? The answer actually allows introverts to draw on their strengths.
During your conversation, concentrate on learning about the other individual. Think of it as a research project.
Remember that your purpose in talking with someone new is not to get a job (even though you may urgently need one), but rather to build a new relationship.
Take off your job seeker hat, and put on your professional hat: Use your introverted curiosity and ability to concentrate deeply to find out about such things as the other person's:
- Knowledge of or opinions about current trends in his occupation or industry
- Areas of expertise
- Career path
- Areas of interest - personal as well as professional
- Affiliations - personal as well as professional
Some of this information may just arise organically from the conversation. Some of it you may ask about, if you feel it's appropriate.
Make sure you have contact information for your new connection (ask for a business card), and write a brief and sincere email or note telling the person how much you enjoyed talking with him/her. (A phone call is perfectly fine, too, but many introverts prefer the written word.)
Refer to something specific from the conversation that you found especially valuable or interesting.
Treat this new person the way you treat people you already know.
That is, let them know when you come across something that you think would be of interest to them - a person they might want to talk with, an article they might want to read, some information they might want to know about. Or check in to find out the outcome of any situations they shared with you that had not yet reached their conclusion.
Be thoughtful and authentic. Your gestures will be appreciated, and the other person will recognize you as a valuable new contact.
By nurturing your new relationships, you will be regarded as an asset and you will stay "top of mind" when your new contacts learn of opportunities that are suitable for you.
Additional advice from Wendy Gelberg to help introverts succeed with their networking, including (from the list on the right):
Wendy Gelberg is a Career Navigator at JVS CareerSolution in Boston and author of The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career. She is a certified career coach and resume writer whose expertise is in helping people who are uncomfortable "tooting their own horn." Wendy writes resumes, gives workshops, coaches individuals, and writes articles and blogs on all aspects of the job search process. Samples of her resumes and career advice appear in over 20 books. Wendy has been a career coach and resume writer for over 15 years. She has been an introvert her whole life. Contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.