Posted July 29, 2015 by

4 Ways Shy Students can Network

Education concept - students communicating and laughing at school

Education concept – students communicating and laughing at school. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

It seems that an increasing number of outgoing students get their first job through connections; however, this leaves shy students with a lot of anxiety. Some young people are just naturally shy while others need time to blossom into the expert networker they will become. Regardless of the situation, current college students and new grads who are on the shy side can still learn to network successfully with a few modifications that will make the experience less nerve-racking. Once students have overcome their social networking fears, they may find themselves in a world where jobs are easier to obtain and references are plentiful.

1. Social networking

Even shy people like to use social media as a way to connect with others. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn allow students to use their social networking tools to make valuable employment connections without ever talking to an actual person. Shy people are often less nervous about connecting online because the computer screen provides somewhat of a shield to help them interface with more outgoing people. Additionally, students who often say the ‘wrong’ thing too quickly or speak impulsively have a chance to review and proofread their word choices prior to clicking send or hitting enter.

2. Network within small groups

Students who are uncomfortable in large group settings should practice networking within smaller groups. Attempting to make social and work connections in an environment where 50 to 100 people are all getting to know each other can be incredibly daunting for an introvert. While shy students are learning to be comfortable within a large group they should practice within smaller groups – 3 to 5 people – where they can have more of a voice and enjoy a more intimate conversation with peers.

3. Network with other shy people

Shy students often think that they’re the only introvert out there in a world of successful social extroverts. This, however, is simply not the case. For every social butterfly there is a shy student who struggles to meet new people and make new friends. Shy students should consider networking with other introverts, those they would be more comfortable with, because these connections can be equally as valuable as those made with extroverts. There are several high-paying fields that don’t require excessive socialization, and many introverts will end up in these fields. As a result, when shy students network with other introverts they may end up just where they want to be.

4. Network within the academic community

Introverts should also consider networking within the university community. Every university campus has an amalgam of personality types including people who prefer to work on their own or who are not terribly outgoing. One of the reasons to attend a university campus is to get to know several different types of people from different backgrounds. Students should not limit themselves to only getting to know outgoing people. The university experience offers a chance to meet professors, TAs, grad students, and researchers, many of whom will be on the shy side.

In conclusion

Although it can be a challenge for students and new grads to successfully network and make connections if they are on the shy side, networking is an important skill for every young person to learn. With a few minor adjustments, shy students can easily make connections and shoot for that dream job they’ve always wanted. However, students who don’t learn to make appropriate connections may find that their job search takes much longer than they had hoped and that they are limited to the traditional online application job search that can become frustrating very quickly.

Robyn Scott is a private tutor with Orange County, CA tutoring company TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

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