You can be a successful introvert at work if you know what game to play. Society gives the upper hand to extroverts, but the following 7 tips for career success will change your outcome:
1. Are you approachable?
Successful introverts at work are self-aware of their body language. Making eye contact, good posture and a confident hand shake go a long way in building credibility. 93% of communication is non-verbal. 55% is body language. If those stats don’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
A helpful tip for introverts is to be aware and refine the way you present yourself in work situations. Look people in the eye, stand up straight and initiate handshakes. You are approachable by being proactive in meeting/greeting others.
2. Be a great listener.
Successful introverts leverage their emotional intelligence (EQ). The foundation of strong communication is great listening skills. Listening means you care. It is the best way to show empathy towards people. Be known as a trusted confidant.
Want to succeed as an introvert at work? Make your boss look good. This happens through listening and taking instruction. You may not agree with your supervisor’s take on everything, but he/she can help you climb the corporate ladder faster than any other method.
3. Start conversations, don’t end them.
A successful introvert is social. You don’t need to be the life of the party, but also don’t be a conversation killer. Introverts are naturally great listeners so enhance the experience by asking open-ended questions. You’d be surprised how people’s perception of you changes when feeling heard.
It takes effort to work up the energy to converse, but the investment is worth the cost. An introvert at work is happiest when surrounded by people they enjoy being around. This happens when you are contributing to the dialogue. Push yourself to lengthen a conversation. It is a skill that is mastered over practice.
4. Learn to be a situational extrovert.
A successful introvert knows how to turn on the switch. For example, one of the reasons I host monthly events is it forces me to meet new contacts. Introverts exhaust more energy in social situations, but remember there is plenty of time to recover afterwards.
Here’s a tip for introverts: treat opportunities to meet people as the beginning. Instead of trying to meet as many people as you can, focus on getting to know a few people and following up later. Relationships build over time. In the moment people are only going to remember their interaction with you. If you don’t initiate conversations, you’re easily forgotten.
5. Build your network.
Expanding from my last point successful introverts invest in relationships. It is more about who you know than what you know. As an introvert at work, think quality over quantity.
What has helped me over time is shifting networking as a goal to a part of my lifestyle. It is easy to look at your network as a task, but more helpful to see it as growing your inner circle.
Some helpful tips for introverts wanting to build their network: grab coffee, meet at an event, set up a phone call, eat a meal together, go for a walk with them. Be creative with how you engage with others. Just make it a priority to do it consistently.
6. Leverage your personal strengths.
If you want to be a successful introvert at work identify your strengths. The best way to add value to any organization is to know where to best contribute. Don’t know what your strengths are? Take the StrengthsFinder test.
Your top 5 strengths won’t disqualify you for any job. Instead they help you know “how” to optimize your role daily. Most likely an introvert at work will bring more positive attention his/her way by what he/she does, not says. You have the greatest room for growth in your areas of strength, not weakness. Figure out what you do well and do more of it.
7. Volunteer for leadership positions.
To be a successful introvert you must have leadership experience. An entrepreneur gets better by starting a business. A parent gets better by caring for a child. You become a better leader by leading others.
Leadership isn’t exclusively public speaking, charisma and titles. As an introvert at work you can be strong leader by: listening to people’s opinions, bridging the gap between conflict/miscommunication, facilitating meetings, empowering and mentoring others.
Successful introverts develop their leadership style over time. Being self-aware, knowing your strengths and building strong relationships set a solid foundation moving forward. Leadership is not a destination, but a journey. You can always learn and refine yourself. The most important part is to ask and take advantage of opportunities.
To become a successful introvert at work you have to be willing to build the skills that propel you for advancement in the professional world. Do that by stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing the list mentioned above.
Career success as an introvert isn’t elusive. It’s about knowing which rules to play within the game. Have fun with it!
Let me know your thoughts and if we missed any tips add them to comments section below.