Can social media help overcome shyness?

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Networking - i.e. building and maintaining contacts - is an essential factor for business success and can not only help in the search for a new job, but also in recruiting new specialists and acquiring new customers and investors.

But for shy people - especially IT geeks and nerds - networking can sometimes feel dishonest and manipulative. So avoid the act of networking as best you can - also for fear of rejection. That, in turn, can have a negative impact on your career.

"Networking has nothing to do with sloppiness," says Keith Ferrazzi, author of the networking bestseller "Never Eat Alone". "It's just a buzzword for building serious relationships based on mutual consultation. Good relationships are the foundation of good networks - without them you can't build a career or a business. You need people to support you."

Fortunately, any reasonably intelligent person can easily learn the art of networking. After all, you "only" need a basic structure of certain social skills. With these 17 strategies, even introverts can network immediately.

Start with what you know

If you are shy, approaching strangers can take a lot of effort. So take it slow and try networking with friends and / or relatives first.

"You can network without any uninvited visits or calls," says Lynne Sarikas, head of the Northeastern University career center. "Start with a known rather than an unknown variable in order to demystify this process. This helps shy people to overcome their inner hurdles. With just a few successful conversations, their self-confidence is strengthened."

  1. 1. Communicative competence
    Your communication skills will help you create consensus and understanding of your goals and desires.
  2. 2. Confidence
    Confident means, among other things, to be aware of yourself, to know your own strengths and weaknesses.
  3. 3. Empathy
    Those who are empathetic can more easily convince others of their cause.
  4. 4. Ability to work in a team
    Teamwork is required in every job advertisement. Being able to work in a team means, among other things, to recognize your role in the team and to behave in accordance with the expectations attached to it.
  5. 5. Critical ability
    To be capable of criticism does not only mean to exercise criticism (fair, objective), but also to be able to accept criticism, reflect it and implement it accordingly. Dealing with criticism plays a crucial role, especially in teams, projects and in management situations.
  6. 6. Analytical competence
    If you practice your analytical skills, you will be able to grasp situations quickly and react accordingly.
  7. 7. Trustworthiness
    Trust is the expectation of being able to rely on the other in critical situations.
  8. 8. Self-discipline / self-control
    Those who do not control themselves always remain servants. Only those who have themselves under control can convince others.
  9. 9. Curiosity
    Curiosity is the prerequisite for creativity.
  10. 10. Ability to deal with conflict
    You can only live a self-determined life if you can accept other views and deal openly with others.
  11. 11. Assertiveness
    To assert oneself appropriately means to convince instead of persuading - or forcing. Others will be happy to follow you on your way.
  12. More about soft skills ...
    ... those interested can find it in the book of the same name by Gabriele Peters-Kühlinger and Friedel John - published by Haufe in the practical "TaschenGuide" format (fits in every trouser pocket) for 6.90 euros.

As soon as you develop a little courage, expand your "contact group" to include old classmates. Your alumni network can prove to be a gold mine. By the way, contacting an ex-fellow student shouldn't feel like cleaning the door. After all, your old fellow students are part of the alumni network for a reason.

Don't apologize

Introverts and inexperienced employees tend to apologize when they ask for support or help. This is because these people perceive networking as a chore rather than an opportunity to establish contacts.

"They feel like they are supplicants," says Sarikas. "And these people don't feel like you are worth hearing. So when they ask for help, they apologize."

Constant apologies make you seem like a beginner. So don't do that. Right now. Such behavior merely indicates a lack of professionalism and self-confidence in others. If you need help, don't apologize. Nor do you need to apologize for wanting to know more about the person whose help you need. When it comes to networking, the expectation is like this: one hand washes the other. Believe in yourself.

Good face

Keep smiling. "It's such a simple basic rule, but people just don't think about it," says Peter Handal, CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates.

You should be less focused on how much networking repulses you. Especially if you run the risk of attracting attention at events, conferences or parties with a grim expression on your face. Any kind of displeasure reflected on your face is out of place.

It is also much more likely that people will warm to you if you underline the "good morning" with a smile instead of giving a pressed, angry "hello" with a purposeful "look past" and then moving away. That doesn't mean you have to dance through the office like a mad circus clown - just get used to garnishing a greeting with a friendly expression and a smile.

The right time

Approaching a group of people who already know each other can be a terrifying thought for introverts. After all, it is far from an easy endeavor, even if the group willingly includes you in the discussion.

Under no circumstances should you therefore play the elephant in a china shop and simply express your opinion without being asked and, preferably, loudly. Such behavior can quickly ruin the first impression completely. And nip any conversation in the bud. Instead, you should first listen to find out what the core of the discussion is actually about.

"Then when the opportunity arises, ask the whole group a question," recommends Handal. "This is how you build credibility." For shy people, however, it should be much easier to ask a question than to reveal their beliefs out loud.

Listen to be heard

Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Shy people in particular can use this for themselves - and their networking skills. Many people do not even listen when others are talking. Instead, they are just waiting for the chance to speak again. If you're shy, you may find it easier to listen than to talk anyway. This is why you should do everything you can to become a good listener. Don't ignore conversations or wait in fear for the moment you need to speak.

Instead, listen carefully and let the other person share their opinion. They'll remember later that they had a great conversation with you. And you didn't even have to say much about it.

  1. The secret of small talk
    We'll tell you the most important rules for successful small talk so that you can communicate effortlessly.
  2. Take courage!
    Small talk usually only takes place among strangers. But even if you are afraid of it: a little chat is much easier than you think!
  3. The first impression
    Present yourself in a personable way, the first impression counts. But also see small talk as a warm-up phase. Especially with business partners from other cultures, it does not go down well if you fall straight into the house.
  4. Take yourself back
    This gives your counterpart space to talk and you often receive valuable initial information.
  5. Find common ground
    The best way to do this is to ask open-ended questions that express interest in the other person.
  6. Potential topics
    If you find it difficult to find suitable questions, simply relate to the environment or the occasion of the encounter. "How did you hear about this event?" or "What contact are you here through today?" can be the prelude to a nice small talk.
  7. Warning, taboo zone!
    It becomes dangerous with topics of conversation that have a polarizing effect, such as politics or religion. If the other person has a different opinion than you, you will quickly fall into the trap. And beware of negative issues like delayed flights! Whining together rarely connects.
  8. Do not hold monologues!
    The effect on your audience is likely to be foreseeable.
  9. Listen actively and attentively.
    An occasional nod or "yes, yes" shows little interest or appreciation. Instead, really listen and recall information that the other person mentioned: "You said earlier that you ..."
  10. Maintain eye contact.
    Especially at a larger event, the temptation is great to let your eyes wander in order to miss as little as possible. That is rude to your current interlocutor! So keep eye contact.
  11. Many interlocutors
    The word 'SMALL Talk' describes it perfectly: larger events are about short conversations and getting to know each other. Take advantage of the opportunities by talking to many different people.
  12. End the conversation on a positive note.
    As already said, negative topics rarely connect and often leave a bland aftertaste. Instead, put a positive end to it. "I enjoyed our conversation a lot, I hope we can continue it later." can be a nice end if you mean it.
  13. Small talk is there for networking.
    Observing is fun, but also take the opportunity to establish relationships by actively looking for new people to talk to. So keep an eye out for groups that are open to each other or people who will allow you longer eye contact.
  14. Preparation is useful
    Conversations are often easier to come about if you have found out a bit about your host / customers in advance.

Card with you?

"You should always have business cards at hand," recommends Handal. "These are highly effective when it comes to keeping your name in the memory of the interlocutors."

This is especially true if you are a shy guy. Do not waste even short-term contacts and take the opportunity to exchange business cards. Take the initiative and offer your card first - maybe the other person doesn't even think about it. In any case, it is very likely that you will also receive the other person's card in this way. Voilà, the foundation for a solid connection has been laid.