As my wife and I were driving our daughter home from a summer camp in Maine, where she was employed as a counselor, my daughter brought up a topic that is familiar with those who prefer introversion. The topic was self-promotion, which many introverts struggle with.
She began be telling us that she worked harder than some of the counselors, but didn’t get recognized for it. In fact, those very counselors who weren’t as effective were given praise in moments when she should have. I asked her why, and she told me that they were constantly in the ear of the supervisors, being their friend and talking about the great things they did.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to put on my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator hat and give her some advice. I told her that in the future she’ll need to promote herself better. That self-promotion comes harder to introverts because they’re not as outspoken about it.
It’s not that introverts don’t want to be recognized, it’s just that they find it awkward doing what my daughter had described about the other counselors who were getting the recognition. I emphasized to my daughter that she has to be more proactive about promoting herself in the two most important areas in her life, the job search and then work.
So how can she and other introverts promote themselves in important areas of their lives?
Writing is something with which introverts are comfortable. It allows them to process their thoughts and speak (through writing) intelligently. Therefore, their written communications will in all likelihood outshine extraverts, who are more prone to talking. Introverts are stronger when it comes to writing resumes, cover letters, and their LinkedIn profiles.
Although introverts are not as comfortable with networking as extraverts, they possess the strength of listening and asking relevant questions. Introverts also prefer smaller groups, so a buddy group might be more to their liking. When it comes to conversation, introverts would rather talk in depth than have longer more shallow conversations. It’s not that extraverts are better networkers; they don’t get overwhelmed by people as much as introverts do.
In interviews introverts tend not to be as animated and spontaneous as their counterpart. They don’t display the bravado extraverts do. However, what they lack in display of enthusiasm, they bring more preparation to the table. I recently conducted a mock interview with a client who rates 20 out of 21 points as an introvert. She defied everything I’ve just written. She came across as confident, at sometimes animated, smiled and laughed on key. Through her answers I got the sense she had researched the company and position and, as a result, was well prepared. This can be a strength of introverts.
As I state in my story about my daughter, introverts need to be more “friendly” with their direct supervisors. I’m not suggesting they appear in their supervisor’s office three times a day. It’s only natural for supervisors and managers to feel well liked, so visiting them or catching them in the hallway just to talk is a good thing. The seldom encounter is not kissing up to the supervisor; it’s building and nurturing a relationship.
As mentioned earlier, introverts’ strengths lie mostly in writing. In my opinion if extraverts are going to promote themselves through oral communications, why shouldn’t introverts promote themselves through written communications. I’m speaking of email. When I accomplish something at work, I send an email about my accomplishment to my manager. Sometimes I’ll cc the director of the organization.
If introverts take this approach, they must be sure to include anyone who helped them with a project, solved a problem, provided excellent customer service. In other words, not come across as self-serving.
The direct approach is sometimes best. Introverts must also be willing to knock on their manager’s door and talk about the accomplishment they’ve achieved. They shouldn’t come across as boastful, but they should show pride in their accomplishment.
The other day I went to my manager and told her I needed more clients to counsel (showing initiative). Before she could ask why, I told her that many of my clients were landing jobs. This made me feel somewhat awkward, but I knew it was a time when I had to point out my accomplishments…in a “by-the-way manner.” It was well taken by my manager.
One bit of advice I have for introverts, as well as exraverts, is not to use meetings as a way to blatantly tout their successes. If the timing is right, introverts should mention their accomplishments, while also acknowledging a team effort. Anyone who talks in “I” terms only comes across as self-centered. Eyes will start to roll when this happens.
Perhaps it’s the awkwardness of self-promotion that prevents introverts from getting promoted more often than extraverts. Introverts make excellent workers, as my daughter illustrates; but they don’t get the recognition, again as my daughter illustrates. I hope in the future she learns how to be more forthcoming with her accomplishments.