Creating and maintaining a successful career is not simply a matter of qualifications and skill sets, but also about how you use your credentials to brand yourself and create professional networks within your industry. And while the complexities of maintaining a widespread network of contacts while keeping yourself visible and well represented in relevant social circles can be a daunting task for even social butterflies, the task can be especially intimidating for individuals who may be shy, self-isolating and otherwise introverted. But the process of creating your personal brand need not be beyond reach just because you prefer alone time over high-energy social gatherings. Consider the following tips to help introverts get connected to the world around them and find more and better opportunities for succeeding in their careers:
1. One of the advantages of being social is the ability to play up your strengths and accomplishments to others without feeling self-conscious or nervous. Introverts can have a much more difficult time with self-promoting and finding the courage to draw attention to themselves. However, relying solely on others to evangelize your accomplishments will only lead to becoming persistently overlooked for development opportunities and promotions. While you may not need to announce or brag about your accomplishments to everyone, make sure that certain key individuals understand your efforts and accomplishments and give you credit where it is deserved.
2. Because it is more difficult for introverts to promote themselves, it may be helpful to forge strong relationships with supervisors or other influential individuals who may be willing to speak up for you and vouch for your abilities in situations that may benefit your career. Introverts are often more reflective than socialites and so may find that they have more developed opinions than other—more vocal—colleagues. While you don’t necessarily have to chat up all of your coworkers about your ideas for improving your organization’s performance, it is important to share your opinions and ideas when you have them. You may want to directly approach your immediate supervisor and let him/her know that you have an idea that you’d like to share in private. If you plan out your presentation ahead of time, you can more easily anticipate questions that may arise and so feel more confident in your ability to present your idea in the most positive light.
3. Introverts also tend to be hyper-critical about themselves and their performance in public. Try to focus more on your successes so that you do not become obsessed or overly analytical of your perceived failures (which probably aren’t as bad as you think), which can only lead to discouragement and self-doubt.
4. Don’t be afraid to participate in networking events, but plan your behavior so that you feel more sure about yourself. Develop some conversation starters about common discussion topics like current events or pop culture. The more you know about the world around you the easier small talk becomes.
5. Finally, if you’ve developed your online conversation skills beyond your in-person speaking skills, take advantage of online professional networking tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter for finding contacts in a more comfortable social environment.