10 Tips to be Amazing at Online Networking as a Shy College Student
July 11, 2023
Networking is an amazing chance for college students to explore different opportunities and meet new people.
You never know when you will find your next job, a potential co-founder, customers, allies, or future collaborators who can give you the professional boost you need.
But, many people believe that you need to be extroverted, talkative, and funny to successfully gain the interest of others through networking. Not true!
We want you to know that being introverted shouldn’t stop you from thinking about networking. Let us explain.
There are many ways to network. Today, we will focus on online networking.
1. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure
Don’t be scared to be yourself. Show you how you are, and be genuine.
Are you afraid of which topics to talk about, and how to be prepared?
If you are going to take part in an event, make sure you check the conferences and the schedule, read the profiles of the attendees, and explore the platform where the event will happen.
This will help you know exactly what you’re signing up for and what you can expect during the event.
2. Don’t overthink
Just jump into the pool. Words linger uncomfortably in the air if you don’t act. This can mean doing anything actively, from introducing yourself with a fun fact that sticks, or an interesting question.
A simple “hello,” particularly in online networking opportunities, just won’t cut it and will leave people awkwardly waiting for more.
3. Check the event website
Going through the agenda will help you know exactly what you can expect.
Seeing the participants, their profiles, along with the schedule can help you prepare mentally and technically.
4. Filter your preferences
Many online networking events give you the option to filter your preferences, specially if it’s an event that encourages closer communication in subgroups.
This could mean exchanging contact information with people who are relevant to your field and interests or even dividing groups into breakout rooms on Zoom or other online video call platforms.
Use the filters to accurately express what and who you’re interested in; get connected with the best people for you.
5. Select correctly
Choose to talk and engage with the people more related to your profile or the experience that you are looking for.
People with complete profiles and bios, or those who have linked their social accounts, experience, and job field, are good resources to connect with.
6. Reach out
Don’t hesitate to send them a polite message to introduce yourself. It’s normal to feel nervous. But remember, you’re not doing anything wrong.
Let them know why you are there and why you want to talk to him/her/they. Be respectful and open to different purposes and don’t feel bad if some of them don’t reply.
We know that is hard, but really, don’t overthink. Thinking about the worst possible outcome is not worth your time, specially when the only bad thing that can happen is a no-response.
You have everything to gain from a conversation, and that can only happen if you reach out to them.
7. Video calls are not as awkward as you think
It can feel silly, but one of the most effective ways to connect to people from across the globe is through a video call.
There can be networking sessions held in groups or 1:1 video calls between people.
We know you think turning on a camera and mic in front of strangers means they will judge you or see your home.
But there are benefits besides realising that people are more concerned with themselves and how they appear than they do about you.
Others tend to remember better the people that they have seen, or we have spoken to through video.
This is something we noticed weeks after attending networking sessions online.
Help people remember you!
8. 1:1 sessions or groups are the best for introverts
Networking sessions with just one person are typically easier to navigate, and you can use the 4-7 minutes of conversation without feeling nervous or distracted.
Be very specific and concrete when you speak about yourself, your degree, your job, or what you are doing and want to do in the future.
It’s normal to feel pressure because of time and the good impression that you want to give. Talk slowly and firmly, and smile when natural.
When you’re speaking with somebody that you haven’t before, be sure to highlight the most relevant aspects of your profile. This helps them guide you better.
Networking is in a group of 3 or more people lets you meet more people.
This can help you become a better listener while communicating with many people.
The conversations in a group show you different perspectives and points of view that can enhance your critical thinking skills and connect you to diverse and like-minded people.
When others are talking, you may suddenly realise that you are quiet. Don’t try to overcompensate by interrupting or making statements that are not relevant to the discussion.
Give yourself time to listen to others. When you arrive at the moment to introduce yourself, talk about yourself as if you were talking with an old friend, and feel comfortable.
Don’t bring to your mind thoughts like what will they say? They, like you, want to know you and other people.
At the end of the day, you are just trying to interact with others who may be in the same boat as you!
9. Mistakes are normal
Relax, deep breathe, or meditate before a session if you feel nervous. Break the ice with a nice comment, and don’t fear making mistakes.
Fumbling and messing up make it human. Many people like to see you being your authentic self rather than a rehearsed robot.
We know how hard it is for us introverts to have a super joyful and funny attitude. You don’t need to be a comedian or whatever; be yourself.
It is really gratifying when you find people that show themselves how they are, without pressure and don’t fear making mistakes.
If you can add something valuable to the discussion, don’t hesitate. Meanwhile, it is not necessary to be speaking the whole time.
People remember those kindly who speak less but what they say is important.
10. Share your social media
Your LinkedIn profile, email, and other contact details that are professionally usable should be available to others at networking events without them having to ask.
For an online video event, you can add your email ID to your name before signing on so it displays next to your username.
Try to schedule another online or in-person meeting with any of the people you enjoyed engaging with or think you still have a lot to learn from.
This helps build a stronger relationship and allows people to better mentor you.
All these sound so difficult until you start to do it. A simple message asking for a meeting can change your career trajectory.
Let us tell you about our experience.
“I felt very nervous and pressured, even more knowing that I was talking with a person in a different language than mine. I gave my first step by attending my first group session in the Startup School of YC. Being shy, nervous, introvert, speaking in English, when I’m a native Spanish speaker, I felt that it was the worst combination to start, but I knew that it was the chance to start my journey as an entrepreneur.”
We hope that these tips are useful to you. We wrote this list to remind you that we and many other introverts regularly feel pressured during online networking events, but they can be beneficial to us with proper preparation.
We hope that you make great connections in your future events, and meet amazing people.
Write to us and let us know how they go! Remember, practicing the list above will help. Practicing will only happen once you put yourself out there and attend online networking events.
What is your networking tip?