The concept of networking has always kind of freaked me out.

When I think about networking, a picture of myself awkwardly trying to make conversation about the annoyance of elevators for fifteen minutes with a stranger in the hopes that they will like me and connect with me in the future comes to mind. Because that DID happen once. And yes, I am still traumatized.

Like many people, I’m outgoing when I’m comfortable but painfully shy when I’m in an unfamiliar situation. I get butterflies in my stomach, my jaw locks up, and my face starts burning (attractive, I know). I use to get so worked up and nervous because I was aware of how important networking is in business. The NY Times reports that employee recommendations for big companies like Ernst and Young say that networking now accounts for 45 percent of nonentry-level placements at the firm, up from 28 percent in 2010.

These numbers were scary to me because I felt like I was somehow behind by not having 2000+ friends on Facebook and 500+ connections on LinkedIn. But if I have learned anything from my awkward networking experiences, it’s that quality trumps quantity any day. It is important to meet new people but everyone has their own strengths and networking style. I get to know my managers on a personal level, I keep in touch with my favorite teacher from high school, and I remember my friends’ birthdays.

In short, I network at a comfortable pace and each relationship is genuine which is something I am very proud of.

Don’t limit yourself on what you think you can do and how introverted you think you are. Find your strength and style, practice, and eventually you will find yourself with the most surprising and wonderful opportunities.

And finally, check out this great article on how to network for shy people that gives great tips and advice

Happy networking!

Cheerful thanks and credit for this blog post go to Jessica Chen, University of Washington Student and Youth Career Compass Intern.Jessica’s loves in life include watching YouTube videos of babies, singing in the shower, and eating McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce.


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