Education and Career Information


Networking for Shy Individuals

Overcoming shyness to shine in your career

Rahul and Vijay are childhood friends and just like any other close friends they share many common interests like cricket, watching thriller movies and playing video games. But there are a couple of differences too.

Rahul is academically brilliant – he tops his class consistently and is an introvert. He likes to keep to himself, and Vijay is his only friend.

Vijay, on the other hand, just manages to pass his exams but is an extrovert. He quickly makes friends wherever he goes – both in his personal and professional life.

Fast forward 10 years – and both are still friends and are doing good in life. Rahul is working in a bank as an assistant manager, whereas Vijay heads the Marketing department of a multi-national company along with a consultancy firm of his own. He is the most successful alumni of his school and college.

How did this happen to Vijay? How could he make it big despite lacking in academics?

The answer is simple – NETWORKING. Being an extrovert helped him make connections with people he met. He utilized this ability in his professional life too – because of which he was able to realize his full potential and achieve success.

Could Rahul have achieved the same kind of success as Vijay? Probably yes. His inability or unwillingness to overcome his shyness may have stopped him from reaching greater heights in his professional career.

SHYNESS in relation to Workplace

Imagine being asked to give a presentation to your clients or to your own group of co-workers. Suddenly, the world around us just feels like it’s closing in on us.

We may even show visible signs of nervousness such as fidgeting, stammering, or blushing. This can happen to the best of public speakers – let alone shy people.

But what if you feel uncomfortable –

  • In initiating casual conversations with your colleagues during breaks or lunchtime.
  • In attending meetings with the fear of drawing attention to yourself.
  • In asking for clarification or guidance fearing that it might expose your lack of knowledge.
  • To take credit for your won contributions to avoid visibility in the organization.

If yes, then it is time to overcome your shyness as this is not only considered as less confident, but it will also hinder your career progression.

Shyness is a personality trait that is characterized by fear or anxiety of new and different social situations and the reluctance to act. Shy people tend to be nervous and avoid social interactions – thus being perceived by others as unfriendly or unsociable.

Because a workplace is made up of groups of people and is a social organization – shyness is a matter of concern. When working for organizations we are often required to –

  • Interact with customers.
  • Interact with colleagues and superiors.
  • Working in new surroundings (like job transfers).

Being shy in workplace situations like the above may pose a serious problem in career development.

Research has also shown that shyness in the workplace can affect your personal factors too – such as self-confidence, emotional intelligence, and emotional exhaustion.


Confident people are quick to initiate conversations with anyone. A confident new employee has more acquaintances than an older employee at the same workplace.

Because shyness is the opposite of confidence, shy individuals fall behind in making connections that matter.

Emotional Intelligence

Our emotions influence our behavior and decision making. When we can understand and manage the emotions of ourselves and of others as well(empathize) – we are able to build positive relationships with anyone.

Individuals with high levels of shyness tend to have difficulties with their personal relationships and career-related behaviors.

Emotional Exhaustion

This refers to the state of emotional tiredness resulting from prolonged exposure to work related stress. We feel emotionally tired when we spend emotional energy required during empathy and interpersonal interaction.

Because shy people are constantly worried about interactions, they spend higher levels of emotional energy than others and are highly susceptible to mental burnout.

It is estimated that about 90% of the population experience some degree of shyness. The good news is that we can overcome this feature to reach our full potential.

By building meaningful connections we can expand our comfort zones that not only helps in reducing feelings of isolation but encourages growth and learning.

And how do we build connections? That is by NETWORKING.

What is Networking and its types?

Networking simply refers to connecting to people. In the workplace context this is known as Professional networking – where this connection between people is beneficial to both.

Example of mutual benefit:

Sarah is a skilled graphic designer who has designed visually appealing graphics for Mark’s marketing campaigns. Mark, well connected in the industry, introduces Sarah to potential clients.

Mark benefits from Sarah’s talent and Sarah benefits from Mark’s industry connections who are potential clients for her freelance endeavor. 

Professional networking is always done with the intention of career advancement and that’s how it is different from simply meeting new people.

Networking in a workplace can be any one of the following types:

1. Operational Networking

Building connections with the people at your organization.

2. Personal Networking

Building connections with people from another organization or a different industry for career advancement.

3. Strategic Networking

Combines the above two networking types and the result is a mutually beneficial connection.

How to overcome Networking Anxiety?

When interacting with new people, we often experience nervousness, discomfort, and unease. This anxiety is mainly due to wanting to make a good impression or the fear of being judged by the other person.

The best solution is to implement these 7 effective steps that not only help you in making new connections but also strengthen the existing ones that will benefit your career and personal growth.

1. Pre-networking preparation

Whether you are preparing for an interview or participating in a singing contest – the one thing that helps you is confidence. And for you to have this confidence all it takes is practice or preparation.

Pre-networking preparation here refers to researching about the individual you want to connect with and practicing on starting a conversation before the actual one.

Nobody is a stranger nowadays. If you want to know someone – just google them. Looking at their online profile helps you know about their background, interests, achievements etc.

When you talk about their achievements or about a shared interest the chances of making a first good impression are higher. Such engaging and personalized interactions pave the way for a more meaningful connection.

If information about the person is not readily available, then it is best to directly approach them. This is commonly called an icebreaker. You begin the conversation by talking about some common interests like food, music, current events, or things relating to your workplace.

Let the conversation be brief and healthy. Do not gossip or talk negatively about people or things. This is not the time to showcase your opinions.

2. Setting realistic networking goals

Whether your goal is to connect with a specific number of people on LinkedIn or to exchange contact details with a certain number of people – it should be realistic, achievable and should align with your overall networking strategy.

3. Leverage Social Media Platforms

Networking through social media is a dynamic way to expand your network. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and industry specific groups offer a space to connect with people from within and outside the industry you work in.

Connect with professionals you have met in person. Make sure to participate in discussions on topics of your expertise to establish credibility.

The biggest advantage such platforms provide is access to a global network for unlimited opportunities.

4. Master the Art of Small Talk

Small talk in Networking refers to the casual conversation you have with the person you want to connect with. It acts as an icebreaker by creating a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.

Small talks should always be about light and non-controversial topics like hobbies, interests, and current events.

Begin the conversation with open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” like – “Could you share your perspective on the latest industry trend?”. And ask follow-up questions based on their response.

Incorporate these techniques naturally into your interactions to make the conversations enjoyable and mutually beneficial.

Remember, the goal is to have meaningful small talk to establish initial connection and lay the foundation for deeper conversations.

5. Find Common Ground

We all share common interests with other people in at least one thing or more. Some of the common ones are food, music, favorite travel destination, or a favorite sports personality.

Having conversations around these topics is the easiest way for initial connection and encourages the other person to share more.

Instead of having surface level conversations like – “Hi, how are you?”, topics of shared interest act as a springboard for more meaningful discussions.

As you exchange thoughts and experiences, you establish yourself as someone worth remembering – not just for your professional relatability, but also for your ability to connect on a personal level.

6. Seeking support from Colleagues

Like it or not – we all need help with our work at some point or another. Some instances of this are:

  • When we make a mistake
  • When we have no idea of what we’re doing
  • When we have too much on our plate.
  • When we need additional expertise or insights

Problems like these are a blessing in disguise. It is a fool-proof way to start a conversation with a colleague, supervisor, or the industry-expert.

Asking for advice is a networking strategy which transforms one-sided conversations into a reciprocal relationship.

It strengthens the connection as people like being acknowledged for their knowledge and are more likely to remember you for the thoughtful approach.

7. Follow-up and Nurturing

How often have we all connected with someone, only to let that connection fade away without ever bothering to follow up?

Connections – offline or online – are not just numbers. Each connection represents a potential relationship for better and bigger opportunities.

Here’s some ways in which you can nurture your connections:

  • Like, comment or share relevant posts from your connection.
  • Reach out with thoughtful messages or genuine interest in their work.
  • When there is an opportunity to assist or help, provide value by sharing resources or insights.
  • When connections reach out or comment on your posts, respond to keep the conversations flowing.

When you provide value and consistently engage with your connections, you can turn your network into a valuable resource for professional growth.


Shyness is common and it hinders your potential – both personally and professionally. By implementing the techniques outlined above, you can easily overcome your shy self and show yourself as a confident colleague at your workplace. It’s important to recognize that networking isn’t about instant results, but rather about cultivating authentic relationships through consistent effort. And by doing so, you’ll be opening doors to new possibilities and watch your career thrive.

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