For shy networkers, building your network can be a challenge. A week ago, I attended a business mixer sponsored by the Portland Business Journal, and was immediately reminded about something. RELATED: 10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking As I walked into the crowded room of about 200 professionals, I remembered that keeping up the art of networking requires you to keep working at it. Like exercising a muscle, you need to keep flexing it in order to keep it in shape. Not that I have any excuse... I have been (ahem) a little negligent myself lately in getting out into true networking situations where I don’t know anyone. A heavy client load and multiple projects have kept my time constrained to running from appointment to appointment, with no time (or energy) to commit to going to any after-hours networking events. I’ve been too exhausted. But that is no excuse. I realized it had been awhile since the last networking event that I had attended, and silently resolved to get myself back out there. So, as I entered that room, I suddenly realized how flabby my networking muscle was. And I’ll admit it: I was scared since I knew a total of two people out of that crowd. Why was I scared? Because deep down, I am actually a horrifically shy person. And when anyone who is shy is thrust into a setting where it is densely packed and they don’t really know anyone, the natural instinct is to clam up and find a corner of the room for shelter. It was all I could do to force myself into the heaving crowd. But I did it. When people reveal to me that they are shy or have a hard time networking, I know that pain... personally. But you CAN get past it and it can open up new doors in ways you couldn’t have imagined. During the event, I pushed myself past the shyness envelope, made eye contact with strangers, and stuck out my hand to say hello. I met a lot of people that night through the power of networking. One gentleman I met was interested in resume writing services for himself (he contacted me later to follow up- a good sign); another was slipping past a door I was standing near and I jokingly said, “In order to pass, you need to introduce yourself.” Turns out he was an executive coach and after chatting, we set up a meeting the very next day to figure out how we could refer business to each other. And a client of mine (one of the two people I knew at the event) was chatting with another gentleman to whom she introduced me... turns out he was involved with a workforce board and we had a lot to discuss. Since then, we have met in person over coffee and shared ideas over e-mail. So, if you say you are shy and that is the reason why you aren’t good at networking, that is a self-imposed barrier you have put up in front of yourself. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. But here are a few quick tips for you to get through that initial awkward conversational stage and transform the people you meet at events into powerful contacts in your network:
Maybe you like your job, but you’re just not where you want to be financially. What do you do? Apply for a position with a different company? Or approach your boss and ask for a salary increase?
The ability to negotiate a salary increase can place you in a better financial position: extra money can help you qualify for mortgage loans or refinancing, or if you’re trying to build a rainy day fund, a raise can jump-start these efforts. However, it’s important to research and know your value before approaching your boss.
In other words, you can only approach the conversation with a fair number in mind—based on the average salary for professionals in your industry with your experience and skill set. Of course, it isn’t enough to only research your value. You need to know the best ways to approach your boss.
Here are four things you should never say when asking for a raise:
1. Don’t Threaten To Quit
Some employees think they can get the upper hand by threatening to quit their job. However, this isn’t recommended, even if you’re prepared to follow through with the threat. Remember, the goal is to get on your manager’s good side, not tick them off. If you approach the meeting with an abrupt or aggressive attitude, your boss may not respond favorably—they may actually call your bluff!
A better approach is to explain how much you enjoy your work. Let your boss know that you're interested in growing with the company. Next, state your argument for a salary increase. Be professional and keep your negotiations brief.
2. Don’t Mention A Co-Worker’s Salary
If you learn that a co-worker in a similar position earns more than you, don’t mention this when speaking with your boss. There may be valid reasons why your co-worker earns more. Maybe they have an advanced degree, or maybe they took additional courses to improve their skill set. Then again, maybe they have more experience than you. Don’t immediately assume that your employer is giving you the short end of the stick.
Rather than bring up a co-worker's salary, you could say:
"I've been researching the going rate for this position, and the average salary for workers with my education and experience is _____. I feel that I've been doing a great job and would like to discuss increasing my salary."
3. Don't Choose The Wrong Time
Don’t ask your boss for a raise out of the blue, and you certainly shouldn’t ask during a meeting on an unrelated topic. Once you’ve completed your research, schedule an appointment to meet with your boss privately. Additionally, prepare for this meeting by practicing responses. In all likelihood, your boss will question why you want a salary increase. The way you answer this question can determine the outcome.
Prior to this meeting, compile a list of all your accomplishments during the last 12 months. When your boss questions your reasons, be ready to run down this list and mention any other selling points. For example, you can mention any classes you've recently taken, and if it's been years since your last raise, bring this to your manager's attention.
4. Don’t Whine About Your Personal Problems
Do you have debt? Do you need to complete repairs around your house? Was your spouse laid off? These are all valid reasons to negotiate a salary increase. Understand, however, that your personal problems are not your manager’s problems. They no doubt will empathize or sympathize with your situation, but you shouldn’t expect them to automatically fix your problems by increasing your salary. Not that you shouldn’t ask for a higher salary, but keep the focus on your performance.
You could say:
"In the past ___ months I've taken on several new responsibilities (list them), and I know that you were satisfied with many of my suggestions and changes."
Getting paid your worth can improve job satisfaction. And if you’re already completing assignments outside your job description, why not take a chance and approach your boss? They just might comply with your request. Just remember to avoid making these four mistakes when asking for the raise you deserve!
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.