It is common knowledge that 80-90% of jobs are obtained by the effective leveraging of your personal network. It is also true that 85% of those positions are found no more than the second or third ring out from you and your direct contacts! While this may be great news for most extraverts, people who think of themselves as introverts may not exactly be jumping for joy over this fact!
In the second part of my interview with Matt Youngquist of Career Horizons, I asked him if he has found that introverts and extraverts are landing good positions in the same numbers, all things being equal:
“Based on some of the reasons I shared in the first answer (see previous blog for Matt’s first answer), no, I don’t find that introverts tend to find jobs as easily as extroverts – all other things being equal. It’s not a huge discrepancy, however, since often introverts will have acquired better educational credentials (since they’re often studious) or be focused on more hands-on career avenues, which are in a little more demand right now than strategic or people-focused positions. So I think a lot comes out in the wash, in this regard, but at the end of the day we can’t ignore the fact that 80-90% of jobs come through networking and word-of-mouth. So the people who “get people” are always going to have an advantage, in any marketplace. Dale Carnegie was talking about this 80 years ago and we’ve all heard the clich? “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Things are a little different these days, due to technology, but these old chestnuts of conventional wisdom still hold true for the most part.”
Assuming you agree with all of the above and you are a self-professed introvert, here are a few thoughts on how to ease into networking during a job search or increase your effectiveness if you are already out doing it:
- Start off networking in your safety zone. Select anywhere from 3-5 people that you feel very comfortable with. Take them out for coffee or call them on the phone and practice talking about your search.
- Consider bringing an advocate with you to a networking function. A colleague of mine asked me to attend a function with him, as he was not at all comfortable with networking. We walked around and found a couple of people to speak to. I played the role of introducing him and saying a bit about him. That was just enough to break the ice because after 1-2 rounds of this, I could not find him for the rest of the evening! He was too busy networking to tell me where he was!
- Take advantage—but don’t hide behind—LinkedIn and other networking tools. Use the tools to do your homework on what jobs are where and who you know—or could get to know fairly easily—at those companies. Make contact via email to set the ball in motion for a possible informational interview or other type of meeting. That way, the initation aspect of the connecting will be complete, softening the way for direct contact over the phone or in person.
And, remember to focus on having as many “interesting conversations” in a given week as possible!