If you prefer to spend time by yourself, feel drained by social interactions, think deeply about the world around you, and sometimes have trouble selling others on your merits, you’re probably an introvert.
While introverts bring many important skills and qualities to any field, the popularity of open office environments, interactive team building activities, and never-ending series of birthdays, showers, and other celebrations means introverts can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed or alienated in the workplace.
So, here are some ways you can make your voice heard, stand out from the crowd, and create an impact, without having to change your personality completely.
In Job Interviews
Try to schedule your interview at a time that works best with your natural energy and that fits in with the rest of your day. If you have a lot going on that particular day, arrange things so that you aren’t flustered by the time you make it to the interview. Try to leave some space between the day’s activities to ensure you have time before and after the interview to recharge and regroup. Even just half an hour can allow you some time to mentally prepare yourself beforehand, and reflect on the experience afterwards.
Practice makes perfect. Go over important points you’d like to make, answers to commonly asked questions, and any small talk topics that might be useful, and do this over and over again until you feel confident with the material. You won’t be able to completely prepare for everything that will be asked in the interview, but at least you’ll have some solid groundwork to keep you on track.
First and last impressions are key in any job interview. Your first minute or two of interaction with your interviewers sets the tone for the rest of the interview, and your last few minutes will likely be what they remember best when they debrief after you’ve left. Go into the interview with high energy, smiling and shaking hands, and leave with high energy, thanking the interviewers for their time, again smiling and shaking hands. Let the moments that will be most memorable to the interviewers be the ones in which you focus the majority of your energy.
Talking to people can sometimes be daunting when you’re an introvert, especially when you’re trying to make a specific impression. Mirroring the tone and body language of those interviewing you can help create a great impression as well as calm your nerves. If the interviewers are formal and serious, it’s probably a good idea to match that energy rather than trying to be super bubbly.
Make your introverted personality a desirable trait. Talk about your strengths as a great listener, a strategic thinker, a reliable researcher, and someone who is detail-oriented. Sure, extrovert qualities are often celebrated as being more team-focused, but the qualities that introverts bring to the table can be just as important to team needs and goals.
In the Workplace
Meetings can be challenging for introverts when they’re up against extroverts who sometimes hog the spotlight. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Much like preparing for job interviews, gathering what you’d like to say in a meeting ahead of time can help prepare you to get your point across clearly. If you find yourself being interrupted by others, be willing to jump back in when necessary, but also don’t be scared to interrupt those who have interrupted you. Your voice is just as important.
When working on group projects, introverts can sometimes be treated as the workhorses, while extroverts receive much of the credit because they’re so willing to talk about their input. Never be afraid to share with others what your contribution has been and feel free to speak up when a project isn’t headed in a direction you feel comfortable with.
Despite what some might think, introverts can be great people to have in leadership positions. They are often willing to listen to what others have to say and are open to implementing ideas that aren’t their own. Introverts are also often compassionate and empathetic people who can build trusting relationships with their direct reports. If there are extrovert-like leadership traits you think you could improve, working on these traits will help balance your leadership style.
In Networking Situations
Networking is another arena in which introverts often would prefer not to find themselves. However, it is an important aspect of career building and personal development, so should be part of everyone’s schedule at some point.
Look for networking events that will give you the most bang for your energy buck. Maybe an all-day conference is just too much socializing, and you don’t feel you’ll get much out of it past a couple of hours. Selecting events that are held over lunch or in the evening, that are short and sweet ways to make connections, might be your best bet.
Taking advantage of networking opportunities online is a great way to promote yourself and your work, particularly when you’re an introvert. Many introverts prefer to express themselves in writing, which provides time to think and edit what you’re going to say. Social media platforms and online networking sites like LinkedIn provide a comfortable space to let the world know what you have to offer, so use these wherever possible.
Being an introvert can present some challenges in today’s workplaces, but using your specific skills to promote yourself where you can is important. When it comes to job interviews, being strategic about scheduling, preparing, using your energy, and promoting your skill set will help you feel more confident. On the job, don’t let your accomplishments and ideas drift into the background. It’s OK to speak up and be honest about your contributions. Finally, choosing networking events that will prove to be most fruitful and using online networking opportunities like social media platforms will help you spread the word further about what you have to offer.