10 Tips to Help Introverts Win at Work

Mary Rosenbaum | July 28th, 2009

10 Tips for Introverts:I have often been told by clients that they are unable to execute some of the tasks in their communications plan. Here is an interesting article that reinforces the need for those who may not be introverts but don’t consider themselves extroverts to take charge of their careers and be heard. If you define yourself as an introvert, I would be interested in hearing some of your comments.

Today’s post is by Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength.”

Even in today’s noisy business world, introverts can still learn to build on their quiet strength and succeed. The goal is not changing your personality or natural work style, but embracing and expanding who you are. Here are 10 tips to help you make it happen:

  • § Have a game plan. Rather than wing it on the people part of your job, have a game plan. Prepare for high-stakes meetings and conversations – anticipating questions and rehearsing your responses. Fact is, just as you strategize for key projects and tasks, you need to plan ahead for connecting with people-and taking regular timeouts to recharge your batteries.
  • § Communicate early and often. It’s easy for introverts to be out of sight – and out of mind. So, take the initiative in sharing information – communicating early and often with higher-ups, team members, and project stakeholders. Don’t wait to be asked for updates or news about your accomplishments. Find out what people need to feel confident in you and provide it to them – ahead of time.
  • § Match the medium to the message. Resist the temptation to hide behind e-mail. It may appear to be the easiest or safest channel, but it’s not always the right one. For every exchange, match the medium to the message-determining if texting, e-mail, phone, or face-to-face is best. Texting and e-mail may be great for quick exchanges, but they miss the mark in critical high-touch areas, including developing relationships and delivering difficult news.
  • § Use social networking to set the stage. Technology is a great tool for preparing to meet people. Use social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter to set the stage for connecting with others in person at meetings and events. You can introduce yourself, find common ground, and send helpful “news you can use” items-all in a low-key yet friendly way.
  • § Assert yourself. Assertiveness gets a bum rap. Often confused with aggressiveness, it is simply being open, honest, and direct-asking for what you need and want. If you fail to assert yourself at work, you risk losing career-making opportunities and suffering the side effects of pent-up anger, resentment, and disappointment. Four out of five introverts say extroverts are more likely to get ahead where they work.
  • § Get your voice in the room. Without delay, speak up in meetings and conference calls. Try to make your first comment no more than five minutes into the session. Even a quick question, remark, or paraphrase will do. You need to be seen as a contributor, but the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.
  • § Stand up to “talkers.” Don’t be afraid to take on the talkers in group or one-on-one settings. There are several ways to stand up and get a word in edgewise. One simple, sure-fire strategy: hold up your hand, give the stop or timeout signal, and calmly announce, “I’d like to say something.”
  • § Ask great questions. There is power in the questions you ask. At work, asking great questions can mean figuring out what’s really important to organizational and individual success-including yours. Two invaluable questions for your boss: “What keeps you up at night?” and “How will you measure success?”
  • § Value humor. “A smile is the shortest distance between two people,” mused entertainer Victor Borge. As a reserved, inner-focused contributor, you can overcome perceptions of being standoffish or too serious by smiling, laughing, and having fun now and then. You need not “yuk it up”-just be goodhumored.
  • § Be a storyteller. Stories put oomph into ideas and help engage and connect people. Make storytelling a part of your own style-weaving real-life anecdotes and examples into talks and presentations. You may not be a natural-born storyteller, but you can learn to spot great stories-and spin a good yarn. Finally, practice, practice, practice. Learning new skills and behaviors may be uncomfortable at first, but with conscious repetition and refinement, you can manage your introversion-and rise and shine!

Are They Goals or Are They Dreams

Mary Rosenbaum | July 20th, 2009

I have always said that goals without specific time lines are nothing more than dreams. Do you find yourself whiling away your free time on the computer or cleaning up your desk for the third time this week instead of following through on all those great ideas you had about new projects or new marketing plans?

In this economic environment with jobs scarce, pink slips in abundance, and businesses in need of new clients setting realistic, attainable and timely goals can be the key to your success. What are your roadblocks and how can you eliminate them?

Fear and Procrastination

We often gravitate to what we find is the easiest, the least threatening, and the most comfortable to do. New projects or new ideas can take you out of your comfort zone. At the same time, doing something in a different way can enhance your business or career. I recently read this quote in Weird Ideas that Work by Robert Sutton: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

So what can you do to help you attain your goals?

  1. Write down the goal you want to achieve and set a reasonable date for its completion. Break the process down into manageable steps, each with a set date. Breaking this down into steps enables you to tackle it in pieces while providing opportunities for you to review each outcome and make the necessary adjustments as you go.
  2. Don’t be a perfectionist.  If it’s a new marketing plan, a job you want to apply for, or a new idea you want to raise with you boss don’t wait until you think it’s perfect. By the time you deem it perfect (if ever) someone else has already come along and gotten the assignment, the job, or closed the deal.
  3. Keep the momentum going. Picture yourself driving a car and putting your foot on the brake every time the car reaches 60 mph. The result would be an uncomfortable jerky ride that took forever to get to your destination.

So take action, set goals with realistic timetables, review and revise results, and achieve your objectives.

The Value of Job Boards

Mary Rosenbaum | July 7th, 2009

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, more and more companies are forgoing online job boards and posting job listings on their own career pages. What does this mean for you if you are in a job search?

These are some of the steps you should be taking to better equip yourself in today’s job market.

1. Broaden your job search by using multiple tools. In addition to looking for opportunities on job boards, be aware of job listings on individual company websites..Search out and join linkedin groups for current, past, and potential employees that are company sponsored. Make sure your profile is up to date and reflects your particular skills. This is where your collateral material – resume, web portfolio, testimonials – comes into play. It should reflect what you can do for the company and highlight your value added.

2. Identify where you would like to work and learn all you can about the companies. Using their websites as well as sites such as www.hoovers.com/free and www.google.com/Top/business you can research companies and understand how your particular skills, background, and talents fit into their structure. The greater your knowledge of the company, the more equipped you are to identify opportunities that fit your skills.

3. Use social networking sites to connect with existing employees of companies that are ones you want to target. It is always helpful to have a resume walked in by a current employee. In fact, many companies favor referrals by their employees over resumes that come in through job boards. Additionally, insiders can provide you with greater insight into the company, its culture, and its needs. The more you know the better you can position your abilities and talents to suit their particular needs.

4. If you see a job posting on a job board, always try to apply first through someone you know or have connected with on line. If you cannot identify someone to hand walk your resume in, then apply through the company’s own website. The thinking here is that if you were on their website you probably know something about the company and have a specific interest in working there.

Use the job boards to help identify opportunities, but use your research and contacts to get inside and secure the job.