Category Archives: Introverts

2 great reasons why introverted job seekers should walk

Introverts find various ways to carve out the time to reflect. Mine is walking. Yours may be hiking, yoga, going to the gym, taking a ride, etc. Imagine doing what helps you to reflect.

Walking shoes

As often as I can I lace up my sneakers, set my phone to NPR or my music play list, and set out for my 45-minute walk…alone. Always alone. If you’re thinking that only a loner would walk alone, let me assure you that, as an introvert, this time is golden.

I usually walk the same route; although, I might get a little crazy and reverse the route. I joke that if someone wanted to assassinate me, they’d know where to find me based on my routine.

Why do I walk alone? I’ve asked people if they’d like to join me, but there are no other walkers in the neighborhood. I suppose I could reach out to people in other neighborhoods; I’ve seen people drive from other neighborhoods to take advantage of our hills.

I walk alone because being alone is my time. It’s my time to relax after a long day of work. It’s my time to get out of the house and be in nature. It’s my time to reflex. Besides, walking with other people would mean coordinating meeting up, and that’s just too hard.

Despite wearing a headset and listening to “On Point” or Taylor Swift (don’t judge), I am alone, and I do think of whatever comes to mind. At times I’ll formulate ideas for a new workshop. I’ll figure out a way to solve a pressing problem.

Introverts need time to reflect

I tell my job seekers that when I was out of work I extended my walking from 45 minutes a day to 90. That’s right; I doubled my distance. I walked around the city of Lowell strategizing on the job search and clearing my head.

I suggest they do the same and the reactions are mixed; some nod with approval, others give it a thought and then dismiss it. Maybe to some walking is boring. I admit if it weren’t for my NPR and music playlist I wouldn’t enjoy walking as much.

Extraverts, on the other hand, generally require a walking buddy who they can talk with, because they need to be around people. In fact the more the better. Occasionally I’ll see groups of walkers talking with each other a mile a minute.

If I notice someone in the group just listening and seldom contributing, I think that must be the introvert in the group. Introverts welcome conversation but don’t engage in exhaustive group discussion, where the goal is to win the battle of “Conversation Master.”

One of my valued connections, Edythe Richards, asserts that as an ISTP I’m extremely independent, which makes perfect sense given the fact that I love my alone time. I’m surrounded by people during the day, but after work I like to walk alone.

(I suggest you listen to Edythe’s awesome podcast on my type: ISTP. She’s recorded many more, with her goal to create podcasts on all sixteen types.)

Edythe also says ISTPs can appear aloof. I don’t consider myself aloof, but maybe that’s what makes people aloof—they don’t know they’re exhibiting such behaviors. To me, walking alone is natural and often enjoyable.

In place of human interaction, I have my NRP or music playlist. Oh, of course I have my variety of thoughts, some of which are productive (as in a new idea for a workshop) others are regarding kids’ issues, and others just thoughts. Regardless, they’re thoughts.

How introverted job seekers can benefit from walking

If you’re currently without a job, walking can be especially beneficial to your state of mind. Those who haven’t suffered the loss of a job may think that the loss of income is the most devastating part of being unemployed. This is not necessarily true.

With the loss of employment comes the blow to your emotions, which in turn can affect your motivation. A routine of walking early in the morning can replenish the motivation by giving you routine similar to what you had when working.

Getting up at the same time every morning and leaving the same time. It’s a routine and all good. You lose your routine, you lose your mojo. And you don’t want that.

Walking is also a great way to strategize about your job search, devise your day’s activities. There is a networking event coming up. Are you prepared for it? Are your personal business cards in order? Check. What are some of your talking points if you have to make small talk.

Maybe your résumé needs updating. Walking gives you the time to think about some of the accomplishments you achieved in your most recent position. They have to be included on your résumé. You have to enhance your LinkedIn profile, including adding a photo, beefing up the Summary and Experience sections.

I used to walk before an interview. It gave me time to go over my elevator pitch and answer the difficult questions I expected. So when the interview arrived, I was prepared to answer the questions. I must have confused people who saw me talking to myself. Oh well.

The time to reflect eliminates the things in your house that distract you from the job search. I’m always telling job seekers to get out of their house. Walking is a perfect way to do this.

I’m not saying walking is going to be your thing. I’m also not saying that introverts are the only ones who should walk. We’re more like to use it as a time to reflect and feel totally natural doing so. Give it a shot whether you’re out of work or just need some time to reflect.

Photo: Flickr, sabrina amico

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5 ways to avoid a bad experience at networking events

two people talkingRecently I attended a networking event which left me with the feeling that I must have had the words, “Talk at me” written on my forehead. Not, “Listen to what I have to say. You may actually be interested.”

In other words, I didn’t get a word in edgewise. It got to the point where the words spewing out of peoples’ mouths were simply noise that I had to block out, lest I ran from the room screaming.

It’s not like wanted to be the one who did all the talking–I didn’t–or that I expected people to abide by Robert’s Rules of Order–that’s a bit extreme. I just didn’t want to feel like I was a sounding board.

I’m being a bit dramatic. I had great conversations with a photographer who explained how he programs meta tags into people’s LinkedIn photos to optimize their profile—I still don’t understand that.

Another person I spoke to talked about the  networking groups she started, demonstrating her concern for job seekers.

A third person I spoke with is someone for whom I wrote a LinkedIn profile, someone I met at this group years ago.

No, it was just one person who chewed my ear off and made the whole night a lousy experience. Complaining about people who talk too much is becoming a common theme with me.

As I think about the night and how I could have participated more and not simply been a sounding board, I’ve come to realize five things I need to do better to prepare for networking events.

1. Have exit phrases. I don’t have any “exit” phrases to use when people want to hear themselves talk and could care less about what I have to contribute. This doesn’t only apply to people who attend networking events; I run across this in my daily life.

I realize I need phrases that will release me from their grip of constant verbiage that makes my eyes turn to stone. I know I can’t say, “Please, for the love of God, stop talking.” No, that wouldn’t work. The following would be better:

“Please forgive me, I was heading for the bar to get a drink for myself and a friend of mine.” 

“A person I’ve been meaning to speak to has arrived. Would you excuse me?”

“It just occurred to me that I have to remind the host of an idea I have for her.”

“I’d like to hear more about your product/situation. Let me take your business card and I’ll follow up.”

Of course, none of these came to mind.

2. Get the message across. I have to get my messages across. I have to remember that feeling of anger I had and, in the future, be bent on doing most of the talking, almost to the point where I’m the one dominating the conversation….

Naw, that’s not good networking, and that’s not me. I believe in equal time. I believe in courteousness, where everyone gets heard. But some people could care less about others’ right to talk, which seems disrespectful to me. I’ve noticed that some people converse as if its a dueling match, but that’s not me. “As I was saying,” often works for me when I want the floor.

3. Ask questions. If I don’t understand what the person is talking about, instead of nodding as though I understand what she’s saying. This slows the gushing of words pouring from her mouth and helps me contribute to the discussion.

“So are you saying you’re looking for a job in marketing, more specifically social media? That’s interesting. I teach courses on LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging. Social media is dominating the landscape in some marketing departments. Would you like to take my business card and follow up with me?”

4. Be mentally prepared. I have to prepare myself. Some pundits believe that introverts may be slower on the uptake when it comes to small talk or self-promotion.

Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extroverted World, claims that introverts are physiologically slower than extraverts when expressing themselves. They need to formulate their thoughts before speaking, lest they say something unintelligible.

I notice that I’m at my best against loquacious types when my adrenaline is higher than usual. I’m more animated and expressive. This can take some preparation before going to a networking event by getting in the mood to attend, somewhat difficult for introverts.

5. Leave. That’s right. If the event isn’t meeting your expectations, or you’re being talked at with no ability to retreat; simply say adieu to the host and anyone with whom you made a connection.

There’s no sense in drawing out a bad experience. Call it a loss, but by no means consider all networking events are the same. At this particular event I had the misfortune to be assaulted by the wrong person. Many other events have turned out very well for me.


I enjoy attending networking events but what I experienced that night is what gives networking a bad name. Connecting at these events should be a natural process, one of give and take; not one where you leave with your head spinning.

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6 reasons why introverts prefer to write

Lately I’ve been receiving voice-mails from one of my clients asking me to call him back to answer his questions. Not to ignore him, I have primarily responded to his calls with e-mails. This is preferable to getting caught in lengthy phone conversations during a busy time of the day.

Hands on Keyboard

Trying to make the best use of my time at work makes me think of six reasons why introverts—I’m included among them, in case you’re wondering—sometimes prefer to write rather than converse over the phone or in person.

Conversations can have no limit. Have you been involved in one-sided conversations, where you’re the one doing most of the listening? Although introverts are said to be good listeners, being treated as a sounding board is not their idea of fun.

When communication is conducted with the buffer of e-mail, it is two-way and the introvert feels engaged in the conversation.

Self-promotion is easier in writing. Some people call self-promotion bragging because it means speaking highly of themselves, but I tell them it’s not bragging if 1) it’s true and 2) you’re asked about your accomplishments.

Nonetheless, self-promotion can be uncomfortable for introverts, particularly if they have to deliver it verbally. When I want to make my manager aware of an accomplishment, I shoot her an e-mail.

Writing is less exhausting. An introvert feels like he’s on stage when he has to talk at extended lengths of time. An extravert doesn’t want to leave the stage.

The act of speaking is not problematic for the introvert, it’s sustaining the conversations over a long period of time that drains their batteries. Writing gives introverts a welcome break from hours of speaking.

Writing gives introverts time to think. Introverts prefer to think before speaking, while extraverts sometimes speak before thinking. We tolerate the chatty extraverts—it’s their nature. But an introvert doesn’t want to be misunderstood and writing prevents this.

One strength I admire about the extravert is her propensity for small talk, because I struggle with it. But when it comes to writing, I can write my thoughts in my own sweet time.

Writing is required to conduct a successful job search and succeed in business. That’s only part of it, though. Great verbal communication skills are necessary in networking, telephone communications, and of course the interview.

But when it comes to writing a résumé , cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and other correspondences, an introvert is at his best. At work the introvert feels most creative when he writes. He’d rather have time to reflect; leave the brainstorming to the extravert.

Writing is fun. I know I don’t speak for all introverts, but some consider writing as a release of creativity and a way to express their thoughts to a larger audience.

Because you blog, write novels or poems, or simply keep a diary; does that mean you’re an introvert? Of course not. There are plenty of extraverts who love to write. I just happen to be one who enjoys writing every day. Call me nuts.


I remember a time in college when a schoolmate asked me what I thought was more important, verbal or written communications. I immediately said “written communications,” and he argued for verbal communications.

His argument was sound and he spoke compassionately about being able to address audiences real-time. I was taken off-guard and was unprepared to make my remarks. As I was leaving the room, he seemed to be talking unaware of my absence.

8 networking tips for introverts

Eric Qualman

And how not to arrive to an event unprepared.

I was once given a ticket to a guest-speaker event put on for a group of young professionals in my community. I was excited and grateful for the opportunity because I’d be seeing Erik Qualman speak about social media—Erik wrote Socialnomics and is a great speaker. I would be able to sit comfortably and listen to an expert on social networking entertain me. So I thought.

When I arrived at the event I discovered there would be a networking hour preceding it, and that I was woefully under-dressed. My vision of kicking back and listening to a great speaker was dashed when I entered a hallway full of people dressed to the nines engaged in conversation. I promptly went to the men’s room, looked at my sad self in the mirror, and exited the building.

I needed air. It took me a few minutes to collect myself and prepare for an unfamiliar group of well-dressed people I’d be meeting (or hiding from). I was starting to feel like I was in a dream where I was in one of my workshops dressed in my underwear only. But I promptly reentered the building and (luckily) spotted someone I knew.

From this incident, I have eight tips to help introverts prepare for a networking event, not simply go with eyes closed—I’m proof of this.

  1. Know what’s on the agenda. In retrospect the first thing I should have asked when accepting the ticket to this event was what kind of event it was going to be. Instead I gratefully accepted the ticket  from a benefactor, failing to ask the nature of the event.
  2. Ask if there’s a dress code. Had I known there was going to be a networking session before the speaker went on, I would have dressed better. There’s nothing more distracting than knowing you’re under dressed for a networking event. (Again, I think of that horrible dream of walking into one of my workshops dressed only in my underwear.
  3. Go with business cards. I have business cards for work as well as personal business cards, none of which were on my person. Had I known what was going to precede the speaking event, I would have brought a set of business cards. There is nothing worse than someone handing you his/her business card and having to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my cards with me.”
  4. Bring a buddy. Go to the event with someone or arrange to meet a person or two there. Perhaps there’s a person or two you’re interested in meeting for the first time. Reach out to see if they’er going. It’s assuring to know there will be someone you can speak with after you’ve made an initial connection. Warning: don’t stick together like groupies. Spread out.
  5. Make a soft introduction to the speaker. For introverts the soft introduction, via e-mail or LinkedIn, is a great way to introduce themselves to someone at an event. If possible, contact the person who’ll be speaking at the event. This takes some of the pressure off of approaching the person for the first time.
  6. You don’t have to stay until the end. It’s not like when you closed the bar during your college days. Oh, you didn’t do that? In any case, don’t feel like you have to stay to the end. There have been many times when I had such a great time at a networking event that I ended up staying the whole time. “Is it really time to go?”
  7. Mentally prepare for the event. Introverts have to develop a “Just do it” attitude. We need to prep ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, which includes preparing for small talk, not relying on seeing a room full of familiar faces. Preparing for a networking event might begin hours before the event, or, for some, days beforehand.
  8. Prepare an exit strategy. Related to number six, when you find yourself cornered by a selfish (did I say that) attendee who thinks he’s the center of the Universe and will not stop talking, you need a phrase to separate yourself from him. “It was great talking with you. I was planning to meet someone and I’d like to speak with her. (This is where your buddy can come in handy.)

The evening turned out to be great fun for me. I spoke to people who were no more prepared than me and others who were there to work the room. When I re-entered at the beginning of the event, I knew there was no turning back; and I’m glad I didn’t. One thing I wish I had done that evening was stay for the food, which looked awesome.

A major victory: I connected with a man who needed some work to be done on his LinkedIn profile. Had I not been there, I never would have run into him and earned his business.

Photo: Flickr, Girişimo

The ideal car drive for two introverts

Teenage driver

This is a post I wrote about six months ago, but I think the message is important to introverts who may feel that the way they prefer to converse is perfectly fine. I can’t remember every word my daughter and I spoke during this memorable conversation, but the dialog is accurate. 

Recently I was teaching my daughter to drive. She was doing quite well but was extremely nervous. I knew she was nervous because she was talking nonstop; whereas I was speaking only to tell her to: watch for cars pulling out and entering our lane, be alert to errant balls followed by children, and make sure she comes to a complete stop at stop signs.

As I was saying, she was constantly talking. “Am I far enough away from the car in front, Dad?” she would ask. “How’s my distance from the side of the road. Oh my god, there are so many cars on this street. Why are there so many cars? Do you think I’m ready for the highway, yet?”

You might think I was annoyed with this barrage of chatter. Well I wasn’t. You see, my daughter doesn’t talk a lot; she’s sort of like me. So when I get to hear her talkative side I grab it like a greedy child grabbing candy. I will say that I often asked her to cut down the excessive talking so she could focus more on the road. But suddenly she became calm and started talking about substantial stuff.

“I talk a lot when I’m nervous, Dad.” I knew this about my daughter. “But I don’t talk a lot around my friends. And sometimes I feel stupid. I’m not like Sidney who can talk about anything. I’m not good at making small talk. And this makes me feel stupid. But I don’t want to talk about just anything; I like to talk about things that interest me. I think I’m a ‘big’ introvert.”

Whoa, where did this come from? Doesn’t like small talk? Prefers to talk about things of interest? Thinks she’s an extreme introvert? So I played along because anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite topics is introversion.

Introverts prefer depth over breadth when conversing. 

“You know, honey,” I begin. “There’s nothing wrong with preferring to have deeper conversations—like what we’re having now. This is how introverts prefer to converse; they like that one-on-one dialog. Is that how you feel?”

“Yeah, that’s like totally it. I like deep conversations. I’m not interested in some of the topics my friends talk about. Sometimes I feel stupid because I don’t jump in on the conversation. It’s like a competition with my friends. That’s why I think I have more friends who are boys.”

I had to jump in. “Girls can be catty right? Are you saying boys don’t talk as much?”

“Totally. With my guy friends it’s not like a competition to see who can talk the most or say the coolest things. I don’t know how they do it, the ones who can talk forever. Like Steph. Everyone loves her because she makes everyone feel special. Britt too.” Moment of silence, which I didn’t want to lose. “Do you think I’m a freak, Dad?” Oh no my dear, I thought, you’re an introvert, a very special person.

I didn’t want to go into that small talk is sometimes difficult for introverts because our time to process our thoughts is more delayed.

“I like to listen,” she continued. Sometimes I just listen to some of the stupid things they talk about. And I think, ‘how stupid that is.’ I don’t want to judge, but…like really? I’m a real ‘big’ introvert, right? If I think what my friends are saying is stupid, is it wrong not to join the conversation?”

I told my daughter, “You see, how you’re describing your friends makes me think that they are more extraverted than you. Extraverts are energized by being with people and talking to them in order to re-charge their batteries.”

“That’s right,” she said. “I get tired sometimes when I’m with a group of people. It’s like I need a break. It all seems like a competition. Who can say the most. With guys it’s not like that. Sure there are some that talk more than others. But for the most part, they listen to what each other says.”

I wondered if the willingness to give and take is a gender thing.

“You, on the other hand,” I interrupted, “like deeper conversations that mean more to you. They don’t happen often, maybe rarely for some, but when they do, they’re great. Like the one we’re having now, right?”

“Yeah,” she continued, “This is good. This talk we’re having. It’s like we can drive in the car and not say much but at other times we talk a real lot. I like our conversations…..So, do you think I’m ready for the highway?”

Before I knew it we were approaching the highway. I had never taken her on the highway, but she seemed lucid and was driving like a pro. So we took the highway home and survived. Why would I have thought differently.

When we got home, I administered an MBTI assessment to her. It turns out that my daughter is a moderate introvert, slight sensor and thinker, and clear perceiver.

“Congratulations, honey, you’re an introvert like your ole man,” I told her. I’m afraid she’s worried about being an introvert, but she’ll realize how special she is.

Note: this post was enjoyable to write. I wrote one on an introverts idea of a great vacation. Check it out.

Photo: Flickr, Michael Jimmy Ellas

5 steps to networking with important people

Getting Help

I recently read a post Please Don’t Send Me Your Résumé, written by Lida Citroen, which resonated with me. It’s general message was, “Don’t rely on others to do everything for you. Take responsibility for your job search.” I agree completely with her message.

Far be it for me to tell job seekers to never ask for help, because asking for help is necessary in the job search. But it’s how you ask for help that makes the difference between getting it or not.

This post is not about sending your résumé to someone for perusal it’s about five steps to take when requesting contact information for the contacts on your company target list.

First step: making first contact

Making initial contact can happen at a job seekers’ networking group or anywhere you meet people—social and family gatherings, sporting events, in the grocery store, etc. Some of your best opportunities can happen out of the blue.

For argument’s sake, let’s say your first contact is at a networking event. Congratulations, you gathered your energy to attend the event, despite engaging in a heavy day of job hunting.

Your goal at networking events is to gather valuable information and advice, especially who and how you can contact people at the companies for which you’d like to work. You should have a healthy list of 15 or 20 companies on your target company list.

During the needs and leads sessions, don’t be shy about asking for leads at your target companies. You won’t get leads at all 20 companies on your list, but you should get two or three good ones.

If someone shouts out that they know influential people at some of your companies, be sure to catch that person before you leave. Ask for her business card and ask if you can follow up with them in a day or two. Always add that you are willing to be of assistance to that person.

Now that you’ve tastefully asked your new networking connection for assistance, your work has just begun.

Second step: follow up with email

When you took your new networking connections’s personal business card, you were sure to jot down professional, as well as personal, information on the back of the card. This is information you’ll include in your email the very next day (providing it’s a business day).

(Read why introverts prefer to write)

“How did Emily do in her soccer game over the weekend. Did she score another hat trick?” would be a great way to start your email. It’s always nice to be remembered for something other than your previous employment.

But you want to make your intentions clear. Remind your new contact that she said she knew people at your target companies, and you are writing for that information. Be concise and direct. No lengthy email is necessary.

“Susan, I enjoyed speaking with you at the networking event in Acton. I’m following up to obtain the contact information for people at companies, X, Y, and Z. Any help you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.”

At the end of your email, inform your contact that you’ll call her at a specific time within the next few days. Because you sent her a noncommittal email, the phone call will be easier to make. Your networking connection may get back to you before you make the call.

Third step: pick up the phone 

Your new contact will be expecting your call and hopefully be available to speak with you. (She may not be available, so make sure you have a well scripted message to leave her.) At the beginning of the call, ask her if this is a good time to speak. Don’t assume she will be available to talk, as she might have a legitimate commitment.

Assuming she has time to speak, start with some small talk. Tell her enjoyed that you sincerely enjoyed talking with her at the networking event, how you felt about the guest speaker, and ask her again about her daughter’s soccer game. Make the conversation light and personal at first.

When the time is right (there’s a lull in the conversation), tell her the reason for your call. At the networking event she said she knew a few contacts at your target companies. You’re wondering if she has had a chance to dig up the information you’re looking for.

Good luck, she is glad to help you, as she said she would at the networking event. Unfortunately she only could find the contact information for two out of the three people she said she would. That’s great, you tell her.

Don’t ask her to make a warm call for you; that would be asking for a lot, but do ask her if you can mention her name, with the full understanding that she can’t speak to your past performance. You and she simply met at a networking event. “Oh,” she says, “Bruce’s daughter plays soccer on Emily’s team. A decent player.”

Fourth step: contact the people at your target company

Now it’s time to request assistance from your target company contacts. You may feel more comfortable sending an e-approach note; although, jumping right in with a phone call is quicker. This is where introverts need to exercise their extraverted traits.

In the e-approach note, make sure to mention your connection. People are more accepting of a referral than receiving the email cold. Explain how you met your networking connection, who’s making the referral.

But the content of your email should be more about your interest in the contact’s company. You’ve researched the company before sending the email, so you know about the company’s products or services. You are boosting the contact’s ego.

Part of your email should be about your value to employers. How you’ve increased revenue, decreased cost and time, solved problems, etc. Don’t overdue it though; you’re not applying for a job.

And then ask if you can have 15-20 minutes of the contact’s time. Make it convenient for the recipient of your approach email. At the end of your e-approach letter, indicate when you will call for a very brief chat.

(Read 10 ways to make your job-search networking meetings go smoothly.)

Fifth step: call the company contact

Don’t put off making the call to your company contact. You may lose your nerve. Wait no longer than two days. Mondays and Tuesdays are not great days, as they’re generally the busiest ones. Fridays are a crap shoot, as your company contact may be out that day. Wednesdays and Thursdays are generally better.

Note: Many people think that taking someone out for coffee is a nice gesture, but that might not be convenient for your company’s contact. It may be more convenient to talk on the phone. Give this person options. Tell him/her that you’ll be calling in a few days.

What are you asking for? You can say, based on your research, there may be positions available at the company, or you’d like to meet to gather information and get some advice. You’re hoping that either of these are true and would like to know what the appropriate action to take is.

Not all your company contacts will be amenable to speaking with you, so don’t be discouraged. People are busy or simply don’t care to help people who are out of work. You will receive rejection, but like sales people you must think that every rejection gets you closer to a yes.

Be prepared for your informational meeting with your company contact. Prepare a list of 10 questions—five about the position, five about the company—which are intelligent ones. Don’t ask insulting questions about dress code or lunch breaks. Remember, your goals is also to impress your company contact.

Circle back

Follow up with your networking connection by letting her know how your meeting/s went with your company contact. Call her. You are now familiar with other. Most likely you will see her at the next networking event. Be sure to thank her regardless of how you communicate.

Ping her as your search progresses, and encourage her to do the same. It’s important to stay on top of mind. Make every opportunity to help your networking connection. Help others in you networking group, as well. It’s not only about reciprocation; it’s also about paying it forward.

Photo: Flickr, GotCredit

 

 

 

 

Three ways to help introverts with their job search

 

Career advisors, when advising certain job seekers, have you ever noticed that small talk—breadth of knowledge—is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics—depth of knowledge—and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before speaking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

And when you mention social media as a way to connect with others, your job seekers perk up. To them it’s far easier than networking. They are on LinkedIn and engage with their connections.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.

The first way to help an introvert with her job search is to determine if she is an introvert. This will answer many questions she has about herself in terms of communications, networking, and social media use. Are you an introvert

Communicating

As you’re meeting with your job seekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted job seeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your job seeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Networking2

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted job seeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Remember that introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will likely serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

Social media

LinkedIn has provided introverts the ideal way to reach out and connect with other people, whether they’re potential network contacts or employers. While this makes connecting seamless, it doesn’t complete the process.

I tell my workshop attendees that once they’ve made the initial contact, they have to reach out and touch them in a personal way, e.g., talk with them on the telephone and/or meet them in person. As career advisors, we need to make them aware of completing the process.

Using social mediaLinkedIn allows for easy communications through writing—an introvert’s preferred method of communication—however it is not as quick and efficient as speaking with someone. As an introvert, I don’t feel like I’ve closed the loop unless I’ve made verbal contact.

Encourage your job seekers to set aside time to talk on the phone for half an hour with two or three of their LinkedIn connections. If they feel so inclined, have them Skype with their connections or, one of my favorites, use Google Hangout. They’re very similar. This helps put a face to a name.

Your introverted job seeker will ultimate close the loop by meeting with an online connection in person for coffee or lunch. Encourage this if the connection is local. Keep in mind that one meeting might not be enough, as introverts network best by developing relationships over a period of time.

Photos: Flickr, Ploymint HQ