Bookmark and Share

Four Introvert-Friendly Avenues to Engaging People You Want in Your Professional Network

by Maggie Graham, MEd, CPCC

Raise your hand if you groan whenever you hear the word "networking". It's terrible, isn't it? In fact, one of my clients, who is a self-professed extrovert, told me that she hates going to networking events. "I can never think of things to say. It just feels so shallow and icky." So true. Even the extroverts can't stand it – imagine what those of us who are introverts think.

Take heart! There are many introvert-friendly ways to bypass the conventional "work a room" networking approach to expanding your network, and these approaches are often more lasting and more effective than rehearsing your elevator pitch and trying to find a natural way to work it into an awkward, speed-dating-style interaction.

Use Detective Skills to Find an Email Address

LinkedIn is the first place to go to find someone's email address and email them directly with a request to get together so that you can ask specific questions. Most people are happy to offer insight about their career path and the arena where they're currently working, so if you can send them a customized request for information – one that lands in a place where they regularly hang out (their email inbox), most people happily oblige, and then you're in introvert-friendly territory with a one-on-one conversation.

How do you find their email address?

  • Look under the "Contact and Personal Info" on their LinkedIn profile (see video for details).
  • Search for other people on LinkedIn who are at the same organization where your target contact works. Often the formula for an email address (for example is the same across the organization, so if you can find one person's email address, you can generally figure out your target person's email address. If you can't find it on LinkedIn, go to the organization's website and also conduct a Google or Bing search to find it out.
  • If you strike out on finding their email address, just guess. There's a good chance, it's some variation of their first and last name and the domain name of their organization. The worst thing that'll happen is you'll have burned a few minutes crafting a customized email and you'll get a bounced message.

Use LinkedIn's Conventional Connection Avenues

If you're not able to identify a person's email address and send them a direct message (visit my website for scripts to use in these situations – when you subscribe to my email list, you'll receive access to a document called "Exploratory Questions"), consider using LinkedIn's typical avenues for reaching out to someone:

  • Send a connection request and be sure to customize it (see video for details). Keep it short (LinkedIn restricts the number of characters available in this process anyway), and just explain why you’re drawn to them and ask for the connection (you can ask for a meeting later – stick to one ask per engagement).
  • Use LinkedIn's InMail system to message your target contact. LinkedIn offers detail about InMail here, but the bottom line is this: you need to upgrade (pay money) to LinkedIn Premium to access this feature, and I don't think it's worth the investment, primarily because there's a little-known pathway to circumvent InMail and still reach someone who is not a first-level connection to you on LinkedIn.

Use this Off-the-Beaten Track Method to Enter Their Sphere

It's possible to exploit LinkedIn's groups to send a message to a target contact. This sneaky approach is covered in the video.

Cross Their Radar

If you’re looking for an alternative to sending a cold email (or connection request or InMail) to someone you want to add to your network, take a low-risk and stealth approach, and simply visit their profile. As long as your privacy settings allow them to know that you've viewed their profile (see the video for details), you'll show up on their Notifications list as someone who viewed their profile, and it's almost irresistible to check out someone who is checking you out.

Using these methods, you can elevate your networking game and increase your likelihood of landing the position you're seeking – and you can do it in a way that aligns with your introverted nature.