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The #1 networking tip for recent college grads who are introverts

Posted December 08, 2016 by

Are you a recent college grad and self-proclaimed introvert? No worries – the solution every young professional should follow is here.

In fact, this may be the most effective – and beneficial, way to successfully network. Especially for introverts.

And this method is a great way for recent college grads to learn how to feel comfortable and communicate in a group setting, become involved in a professional networking or industry association, and add important experiences to a resume. And because of the role they will take on, they will absolutely communicate with others, including those who are putting on the networking event, or attending the event.

What is the No. 1 way to networking success for the recent college graduate who is an introvert?


“We always encourage introverts to volunteer at a networking events/conferences,” says Robin Darmon, Director of Career Services at the University of San Diego. “This provides the introvert with a purpose and provides an opportunity to make meaningful connections with professionals.”

Think about it: Volunteering at a network event provides numerous developmental opportunities, including these specific roles:

  • Check people in to an event: This provides an opportunity to break the ice and already meet every person attending the event. It also provides an in to an easy introduction later, after check-in is complete. “Hi, Sam, I met you while checking in to the event. I am a volunteer for the event and would like to introduce myself and learn more about your involvement with this organization and background.” It’s an instant conversation starter! And once they hear you are a volunteer, that will command instant respect from the people you talk with and meet.
  • Work a booth, or table inside the event: Similar to the above scenario. Working inside the event gives another opportunity to meet and mingle attendees. When working at a table or booth, most who approach you will start the conversation. Boom! Another instant conversation starter.
  • Join a committee: Volunteer to be on a planning committee for an industry event. There will likely be pre-event meetings, giving you a chance to meet other key members/leaders of the event/organization prior to the event. This will make recent college grads feel even more comfortable at the event, because they won’t have that nervous “I don’t know anybody here” feeling going to the event. And it looks great on a resume to point out that you are not only a member of a professional networking organization or trade association, referencing your role as a volunteer/committee member holds even more value.

    If you can pick a committee to be involved with, ask to help out with the team planning guest speakers for the event. This gives you direct access to key movers and shakers in the industry. They are respected, work at companies people want to work at, and know people. That is the type of networking connection that can impact/change a career path.

  • A friend to lean on: Most introverts – and extroverts at that – won’t attend networking functions because they don’t know anyone, and it’s extremely difficult to approach people one doesn’t know. Especially recent college grads who can be intimidated by experienced industry professionals. But by doing the above, the volunteer meets people, makes connections, and finds at least one person (and likely more) who they can lean on during the event if they get a chance to meet and mingle. That friend can then connect/introduce you to the people they know, and just like that, your network, and comfort level, expands.
  • Look ahead to the next event: If it’s too late to volunteer at the next industry event, find the leaders of the event/organization the day of the event you attend, introduce yourself and immediately ask how you can volunteer for the next event. They will find those involved and get you connected. Professional organizations always need volunteers. And then, once again, you have an in to meeting people and an instant conversation starter. You’ll likely find that many of the members of the organization are also just like you – shy at first, but driven, and personable, and willing to step outside their comfort zone to create professional development opportunities.

“We live in a world where millions of introverts are forced to masquerade as extroverts just to make a living, and it doesn’t always come easy,” says Nicholas Boothman, author of How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less.

Putting yourself out there in a volunteering role helps one become a temporary extrovert, says Boothman. And to overcome any networking fears, start by following the #1 tip for introverts overcoming networking fears:


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