Networking defintely does not have to be so hard. If you're shy, or introverted, it's really difficult for you to walk up to strangers at a meeting or seminar, introduce yourself and ask to exchange cards. It's probably just as hard for you to email or phone friends, family members, or acquaintances and explain that you are looking for a new position and would like to know if they know anyone that may be interested in the experience, education, and/or skills you have to offer.
Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner of Keynote Partners, a career management consulting firm, suggests you stop and consider your "introvert strengths" before you start to gain confidence. Those include your analytical qualities, your insight, and your ability to build deep connections with people you do know, and your authenticity and honesty. Once you've thought about those, you should realize you are a very valuable person and any firm should be glad to add to its workforce. Also create a networking plan before you call or meet anyone. That includes organizing yourself and your presentation materials, and determining exactly whom you will call, and in what order. Now you're ready to actually start. You probably will feel fearful, but do it anyway, advises Varelas. Begin using emails and phones vigorously to begin networking meetings with those contacts, leaving messages if necessary and repeating them if there is no response after a week. Don't take "nos" or no responses personally. Many people are just too busy.
If you finally have that meeting, have a 30-90 second "commercial" ready that shows the person who you are, what you're seeking, what you've learned, and what you can offer. Show energy and enthusiasm, and be ready to ask what the person can do to help you in your quest. After the meetings write thank yous and use information you've gathered to move on to other network contacts.
If you're in a networking conference or meeting, force yourself to smile, put out your hand and have conversation starters ready. Increase your enthusiasm and be positive as you "self-talk" about what you can bring to any company.
On the flip side, don't arrive late or leave too early. Avoid inappropriate humor and dress, and never drink or eat too much. Never, never, make negative remarks about people or companies. You never know when you'll end up working for them.