Find Your Dream Job, Episode 305:
How Introverts Can Take The Work Out of Networking, with Brad Minton
Airdate: July 21, 2021
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
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Many introverts struggle with networking.
But today’s guest says extraversion isn’t the only way to be successful. In fact, he believes introversion can give you an edge in a job search.
Brad Minton is here to talk about how introverts can take the work out of networking.
He’s a career coach, certified resume writer, and founder of Mint To Be Career.
Brad is also the co-host of the Your Career GPS Podcast, a terrific show.
He joins us from Allen Park, Michigan.
Let’s get started Brad, why is networking a struggle for many introverts?
So I think many introverts feel that networking is work. I think a lot of it comes from the name, from the simple fact they associate networking with big events, lots of people, lots of activity, external stimuli, which by consequence, is really energy-draining. Introversion, by definition, is really getting your energy source from internal, and so a lot of times, it is this misconception that they need to be something that they’re not. They need to force themselves to be outgoing and socialize with lots of different people in lots of different interactions and really just take that process in a way that feels very against the grain of who they are.
Why do you think that notion is so popular, the idea that networking means going to large events and being around lots of people? Because I know we’re going to talk about this, there are a lot of different forms of networking. But why is this one view of it so popular?
I think a lot of it has to do with really the messages that we get so early on in our childhood, in our adolescence, and myself, you know I work in career services and higher education, and you know generally when we’re hosting career events, when we’re hosting networking type of activities, where we are engaging with a lot of different individuals, those are generally large group events you know you’re hosting employers sometimes fifty, sixty, seventy employers at a time for these types of events. You know, the networking events that are generally catered to people who are looking for employment, it’s along the same lines. They are, you know, hosted in these big convention halls or hotels where you’re collecting a large diversity of people around a common purpose. So that message in and of itself seems to give people the impression that that’s the exclusive way because this is what we’re taught to gear ourselves towards.
Do you find that career centers like the one you work at, or just in the field in general, are beginning to teach that there are other forms of networking out there besides the large public events?
Absolutely. One of the things that we do very, very consistently in our position is, we will work both individually and through group workshops and things like that, and really, really break down for students various ways to go about networking that are not, you know, simply attending those large events.
So we really try to discredit that perception and really try to get them focused on catering their networking around their own individual unique styles.
I want to talk about the kind of networking that introverts can excel at, but first, I also want to ask you, Brad, can you do a job search without networking? Some people hope that they can; what’s been your experience both as a career coach and as someone who works at a career services center?
So I think that’s an excellent question, and for me, I’m going to lean more to the side of saying that it would be quite difficult, and I think the research consistently shows that networking is the fastest way to your next job. We know the statistics point to seventy, eighty, and sometimes depending on the source, even up to eighty-five percent of jobs are found via personal referral, and it’s through those connections, through those relationships that you build.
So we know this has a tremendous impact, and it’s because you have the opportunity to go deeper and provide more depth in your relationship-building with somebody than what you can do by simply submitting a resume or applying online. Those types of activities are, I guess, what a lot of people are conditioned to believe are the only way that you can go about networking, but unfortunately, they don’t yield a lot of positive results because they’re very black and white.
They don’t give an opportunity for individuals to really speak to their personalities, really speak to what makes them authentically valuable, really showcase their unique impact they could make for the organization. And one of the things I always say is, a resume is a fantastic tool, and it’s absolutely a must. You need to have that at your disposal. However, it’s only going to tell them so much, and employers oftentimes are really attracted to candidates with personality and who have a story, and who have passion, and enthusiasm, and energy, and those kinds of things are very, very difficult to be able to communicate, you know, the same way you could do through networking simply on a resume.
Well, let’s talk about how introverts can communicate that passion and share their own story, and one of the things that struck me as we talked about this episode is that you believe introversion is a networking superpower, but the key is you’ve got to know how to use it. Tell us more about that. Brad, what do you mean there?
So I think one of the things that’s really, really important to understand in the context of why I look at it as a superpower is really kind of understanding what it means to be an introvert. And introversion is really about energy source. A lot of times, people get the misconception that it means social confidence or, in fact, even if you Google introversion, the term that shows up is the quality of being shy, and that’s absolutely the definition that we don’t want to give to people because you can have introverts who are shy and introverts who are not shy. And so we want to kind of get away from thinking about that because shyness is fear-based, and introversion is really energy-based. It’s how you get your energy, how you direct your energy and the types of activities that can be energy-draining for you.
So, for example, introverts generally, and I’m going to use generally because introversion/extroversion is a spectrum, and people can find themselves anywhere on that spectrum, so I like to use the word generally because I know there’s always exceptions to the rule. But when talking about introversion as an energy source, and that’s the definition that we’re using here, introverts oftentimes are very energized by in-depth conversations. They tend to be very strategic about their communications, so on the outside, that might look like they’re a little bit more cautious, they’re more reserved, or they keep to themselves.
But it’s really because they’re listening, they’re processing, they’re taking in information and really formulating their own conclusions. So they tend to be very thoughtful in that. So this can really, really, serve them quite well in networking types of activities because they’re allowing the other person to really impart information, impart wisdom, be able to soak that information up, digest it, and, by consequence, really make them feel valuable, make them feel heard and understood.
And also, because they are really energized from depth conversations, an introvert is gonna be much more inclined to go in-depth in those conversations, ask the deeper questions about significance, and meaning, and purpose, and things like, you know, company culture and really understanding the types of challenges that a company is working on, the initiatives that they’re currently invested in, and those types of things. Which, you know, to a recruiter or to a potential employer, those are going to be the types of discussions that are going to be quite memorable. That can actually make quite an impact.
So how can you, as a job seeker who happens to be an introvert, apply that strength in a search? What kind of tactical steps can you take to leverage that strength and have those in-depth conversations in a way that’s going to help you get a job sooner and faster?
I think that’s an excellent question, and I think one of the ways that is really, really important is to really focus on what you do best as an introvert.
Introverts, again, they thrive in the one-on-one. They’re going to thrive in those situations where they can sit back and digest and absorb information. And too much external stimuli is really going to stress them out, and it’s going to frustrate them. So go to what you know, go to what you do best.
And so, a great opportunity would be reaching out to a potential employer, an employee at a company, a recruiter who works at a company that you have an interest in, and seeing if you can schedule a one-on-one conversation with them. See if you can do an informational interview to pluck their brain and really come in with a plan of attack on what you want to walk away from that meeting with.
This is terrific, Brad. We’re going to take a quick break.
When we come back, Brad Minton will continue to share his advice on how introverts can take the work out of networking.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Brad Minton.
He’s a career coach, certified resume writer, and the founder of Mint To Be Career.
He’s also the co-host of the Your Career GPS Podcast.
Brad joins us from Allen Park, Michigan.
Brad, before the break, we were talking about how introverts can take the work out of networking, and I love the point that you made about playing to your strength and about how with introversion, you can excel at one-on-one conversations.
I also want to ask you, Brad, is it okay for introverts to say no to big events or do fewer of them once they realize there are other things they can do besides go to hotel ballrooms and meet hundreds of people?
Absolutely, and again, I think it’s really on individual preference, and no two introverts are built the exact same. For example, myself, I’ve had very little difficulty attending conferences and big events like that. I don’t find them nearly as energy-draining as other introverts that I know, but I think that if you do attend or choose to attend those types of events, which by nature and by definition are more extraverted activities, because they’re forcing you externally, you know, to exert your energy, then I think it’s really great to have a tactic and have a strategy.
And so one of the things that I do heavily encourage those who are is to really go in with a plan of attack, go in with a strategy. Walk away with some tangible outcomes of what you want to achieve from that event. What kind of knowledge do you want to gain? Who do you want to connect with, and how many, if it’s on ground or even online? What kind of LinkedIn connections do you want to make? If it’s on ground, what kind of business cards do you want to collect? And so forth, and really kind of get, you know, do that planning ahead of time, and really also plan your communications. What kind of questions do you want to know? How can you gain the insights and the information about your potential opportunities that you’re seeking out through those events?
But to come back to the question, absolutely. You can really try to focus a little bit more on those one-on-one conversations and leverage a fantastic tool like LinkedIn to be able to reach out and try to build more of those one-to-one relationships.
Speaking of large events, if you do go, what are reasonable goals? Because I- when you go to an event- I often meet job seekers who might attend a networking event at a conference and think, “Well, that didn’t really work,” because I think, in part, they’re not certain about what they should expect to accomplish in going to a mixer. What do you recommend to your clients?
Well, I guess keeping on the context of how to apply this if you are a little bit more introverted, and again, I’m speaking as myself here as a self-disclosed introvert, I think it’s really important to keep centered on what is the end goal.
What is your career aspirations? What types of positions are you seeking? And really thinking strategically about the types of connections that would help get you there. And so, I think it’s really important to do that research ahead of time, and really think about, you know, if you’re attending a conference, for example, what is the subject of the conference? What types of people does it generally tend to attract? What types of industries do they work for? And how can you really, really, cultivate those relationships. And as an introvert, introverts, again, they thrive in those in-depth conversations, they like to be very, very, intentional about their communications. This is why they might be perceived as being shy, but they’re really maybe not. They’re just more thoughtful and intentional about how they communicate.
So knowing that, you can really get more into those in-depth conversations with individuals, and really discover the types of opportunities that are not advertised, and really tap into that hidden job market. You can sort of get an assessment on what a company, or organization, or the employees there are currently being challenged with and really be able to take a deep dive into discussing then how you might be able to help work on that or how you have in the past.
One point I know you’ve made on your blog about the changes that have happened since the pandemic, and many companies have moved to virtual operations, is that it’s created a level playing field for introverts, and actually, can you talk more about that, Brad, and what you mean by that?
Absolutely. So one of the things here with, you know, the, I guess the output, the outcome, I should say, of the pandemic is that it’s shifted now into virtual operations for many companies and many organizations. As job seekers, I do feel like it’s leveled the playing field out a little bit.
A lot of times, you can attract the right kind of attention by the consequence of proximity. And what I mean by that is extroverts, in many instances, and again, I speak in generalities here, have had opportunities in the past, traditionally in those on-ground events, through those networking opportunities, through conferences, through meetings, to have their voice heard and be able to be seen a little bit moreso.
Which, you know, in some ways, does kind of give them a little bit of a competitive advantage, just by the fact that they are being able to exert their energy in a way that’s conducive to how they’re wired. So they can walk into those events generally with a little bit more, or a little bit less, preparation and generally tend to do quite fine. So since we’ve had to move into this virtual space now, it has opened up the opportunity, because everybody’s having to communicate the exact same way now.
We are all now communicating via Zoom, through emails, through messages, through LinkedIn, and those types of things, and this actually caters to the introvert’s style a little bit more so, because introverts tend to favor more written communication. And so, an example that I would give here is that, you know, traditionally, if you were at an event or sitting at a table, you couldn’t just type a message in, right? But you now have the opportunity through these Zoom meetings, through these networking events, to be able to utilize the chat feature. And it has given introverts a little bit more of a voice at the table, whereas before, maybe they would be a little bit more apprehensive to do so.
And it’s not, again it’s not necessarily fear-based, it’s just because that’s not how their energy output is. So I do feel like in a lot of ways…and some of the cultivation of new platforms, like Clubhouse, for example, also caters a little bit more to that style. So I do feel like it’s been able to kind of keep everything aligned and equitable across the board, no matter what your energy preference.
How are you seeing introverts apply those advantages in a job search? The examples you gave come from the workplace. But how are you seeing introverts use those advantages when they’re looking for work?
So I think one of the things is that it is great to be able to take your personal style and really leverage it in a way that is going to be beneficial for you.
So what I encourage introverts to do, and what I’ve been able to see in my work with a lot of students, is that they have been able to now say, “ Okay, because I know this about myself, because I’m more comfortable, because this is allowing me to be more authentic in my communication, I can really focus more, and dial that into a one-on-one’s. I can really, I can send a direct message or an email to an employer, be very thoughtful in my communication, and really make sure that I plant a seed of opportunity.”
As I often say, networking is really, it’s like planting seeds to a crop, and your communication style can really, really, work to your benefit, because you have the opportunity to plant the seed and then consistently add value over time. And so through these mediums that are now accessible- so I could come to a platform like LinkedIn, I could send a personalized connection request to an individual, and this is often what students will do, and then, you know, I had a great example of a student who did this and set up five informational interviews within one week. It was truly extraordinary, and he’s an introvert, as well, and was able to have some very, very deep conversations with individuals. He was looking for positions in higher education. He was able to have great diverse conversations with a range of individuals within higher education and got a lot out of that.
And it was through those one-on-one conversations where he was able to dive in deeper, rather than casting a wide net and just looking for those quantity acquaintances.
Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Brad; now tell us what’s next for you?
Currently, I operate my business, Mint To Be Career. I provide one-on-one career coaching, resume writing, web search strategy, coaching sessions with individuals, and, in addition, I also currently co-host the Your Career GPS Podcast, and we produce episodes that come out every Tuesday, so looking forward to some very exciting new content coming up with that.
Terrific. I know listeners can learn more about you and your services by visiting minttobecareer.com, and I know you also welcome people connecting with you on LinkedIn. And I hope if they do that, they’ll mention they heard you on the show.
Now, Brad, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how introverts can take the work out of networking?
I think the major take-home here is that being an introvert in no way is a limitation; it is all about ownership, it’s about being authentically you. And it’s about accepting the fact that you do get your energy source from within, but that provides considerable value to your network, to the organization that you’re gonna be part of.
One of the things that you don’t have to look very far to see is examples of introverts doing some really, really amazing things in the world. There’s so many different examples, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Richard, Branson; these are all self-described introverts, and they’re doing incredible work. They’re effective leaders, they are really applying this depth of concentration and innovation and really creating the change that needs to happen in the world in many instances.
So those are just a few examples, but I think the major take-home is that the more you can really embrace and accept your superpowers as an introvert, the more authentic that you’re going to be, the more confidence that is going to exude from you in your interactions with employers, and that’s going to be memorable. They’re going to be able to take more away from those interactions with you as a result.
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Next week, our guest will be Lav Chintapalli. She’s the CEO of Pathway Power. It’s a leadership coaching and consulting firm in Austin, Texas.
Many people only network during a job search.
That’s a mistake, says Lav, because good networking is about building relationships.
And that takes time and daily effort.
Join us next Wednesday when Lav Chintapalli and I talk about why you should make networking part of your daily routine and how to do it.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.