There has been a lot of LinkedIn discussion recently on how introverts show up in the workplace, and how managers and CEOs need to be more sensitive and aware of the ways introverts operate differently from their more extroverted peers.
The general opinion seems to be that being quieter somehow puts introverts at a disadvantage. They have difficulty being heard because everyone else is so loud. They feel their personality compromises their ability to put their message across compellingly. They dislike the pushy sales approach used by their peers who are more outspoken and confident. They want to know – how can they be themselves and still have a profitable business, or be seen as a valuable employee?
One lesson I’m learning and practising is to make the most of my introvert strengths to redefine, as it were, the playing field. I consider it honouring what makes me unique, instead of forcing myself to act like someone I’m not.
For instance, not all clients and collaborators are the same. Some genuinely prefer to take the time to listen and to build rapport. They are not all about the sale. These are the ones I like to work with. Our values are already in harmony. Why force myself to work against my personality type when I can use my strengths – deep listening, one-on-one connection, a quiet confidence – as my unique value proposition?
This is why I invest time in one-on-one coffee chats with selected individuals whose profiles I research on LinkedIn and social media before I reach out to connect. Sometimes I meet them at networking events, and follow up afterwards. In both cases, I am looking for high-calibre contacts whose expertise seem like a good fit for the quality network I am building for my community. As a career coach and mentor, I want to know that I can trust my clients to my contacts for their related career needs e.g. finding a job, polishing a LinkedIn profile or resume, or improving their interviewing skills.
There is no need to be all over social media if that isn’t your style. The introvert advantage is about depth and connection – quality over quantity. It takes patience, but it’s worth it when you can relax and be yourself, knowing the way you operate is good enough.