How to Get Over Shyness and
Learn How to Network to Advance in Your Career

Growing up my biggest obstacle was to learn how to get over shyness, which transferred into my early 20s. My shyness prevented me from having self-confidence to attend networking events.

“Why would anyone want to network with me?” I thought to myself. “I’m just starting out in my career, what do I have to offer others?” I cannot count how many articles I have read that say networking is the key to a successful career. So I figured if I wanted to move up the corporate ladder I better learn quickly how to overcome shyness.

Why Networking is Important when you are 20-something

Let’s face it- networking is crucial in your 20s if you want to get a kick start with your career. Despite my earlier failed attempts at networking events because of my lack of self-confidence, I have figured out a way to network and enjoy it.

Networking is all about building relationships, more importantly friendships. And true friendships aren’t one sided. The way I approached a potential “new friend” is by thinking about how I can help out them first. For example, it can be a simple as recommending and lending a book I have read that I know they would like or going out to support them if they’re starting up a new business.

Most likely if you’re a 20-something you are just starting out in your career. It’s very important to get over shyness by getting your face out there; you want to others to know about you.

Many times companies are looking for new talent to bring on to mentor on their team. New talent is fairly inexpensive compared to more experience employees and they’re usually enthusiastic to learn and grow within the company.

Four Networking Strategies to Get to Ball Roll to Get Over Shyness

1. Sign yourself up for a LinkedIn account. Here is mine. Use a professional picture of yourself (not one you cropped yourself out of from a bar picture). I took mine off the website of my current job at the time. Post your current position, a description of what you do and your educational experience. And get ready to connect to others.

LinkedIn is great because it gives you recommendations to connect with others based on profile similarities. I wouldn’t just start connecting to others I didn’t know right away. Start connecting with a couple co-workers. Once you get other there and meet people in your field the add them. This isn’t Facebook- it’s not a contest to see how many “friends” you have. The whole idea is to connect with people you’re going to eventually want to network with.

2. Sign up for groups that relate to your field or ones you have special interest in. I guess I’m fortunate because working downtown Toronto there’s a lot going on. Working on the electronic document production side of things I signed up for Women in e-Discovery which is North American based. This group meets about every other month and has a guest speaker talk about a related topic. Not only does this give me a chance to meet others in my field, it also allows for me to expand my knowledge.

3. Sign up for a seminar or conference in your field or a field you’re interested in pursuing. Although I’m not a yoga teacher, I make a point to attend the Yoga Conference every year in Toronto. I get to attend classes with like-minded people and become more aware of what’s out there. Don’t be intimidated to sign up for a conference. I guarantee the more you sign up for the more you will get over shyness.

4. Sign up for a course. Look beyond a credited course, there’s always a benefit, even just to meet new people. I started working towards my adult teacher training certificate online. I prefer to learn online because it’s flexible with my schedule, however, it’s more difficult to meet new people. Overcome shyness by shooting off some emails to your teacher. Ask questions even if you might now the answer. What this does is put yourself on your teacher’s radar. You are no longer a number to him or her. When my class is finished I go one step further. I’ll write an email talking about how valuable I thought his/her class was. Since I’m interested in getting into their field I’ll ask them how they came involved. They have always written me back an email with some helpful advice.

These are four things that have worked for me not only with networking but to overcome shyness in the workplace. Confidence is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Don’t have any confidence? Fake it until you do.

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