Work Relationships

Make a professional impression as an introvert

Written by Michael Hoon

These days, simply showing up to work and doing a good job is unfortunately not enough to succeed in the work world. If you want to build a successful career, it’s important to create a personal brand that defines you professionally. Then, you have to sell yourself. It’s a lot, right? And the trouble is, if you think of yourself as an introvert, you really hate putting yourself out there like that. You’d rather hide your light under your bushel and stay under your comfy little rock and have it all happen for you.

Never fear: it’s possible to set yourself up with a great brand without making yourself feel super awkward—even if you’re super introverted. Read on to find out how.

Let social media work for you.

It doesn’t take any human interaction to set yourself up with killer profiles on all the social media sites. Keep them fresh and up-to-date. Make them representative of your personal style. You can do all this from the comfort of your own couch, in your pajamas. Then, you can try a few fancy tricks like signing up for Twitter chats or LinkedIn groups to join the most current conversations in your industry and get your name out there.

Have a script.

If you’re prone to clam up in social situations, have an elevator pitch ready to go that you feel confident and comfortable delivering wherever you need to. But beyond that, you can script more of your social interactions if it helps. Draft a standard greeting or opener that you can turn to whenever you feel awkward in an overwhelming room and practice it until it comes naturally. Maybe it’s just an interesting question you ask every new person you meet, or a succinct summary of your job title and main responsibilities for networking events. Memorizing an intro might feel forced, but at least you’ll have some conversation starters ready so you never feel at a loss for words.

Choose your marks.

Be strategic—make a game plan ahead of time for networking and other work events. How many people do you want to meet? How many contacts do you need to rack up? Then, be more specific about who exactly you want to meet and why. Setting targets for yourself ahead of time can turn the whole thing into a project with an end point. Once you hit your quota and meet your big fish? You can go home!

Follow up and stay in touch.

Touching base after you’ve met someone is the classy thing for everyone to do, and it’s easy because you don’t need to do it in person. If you felt you made a weird impression on someone, shoot them an email or a note to keep the door open. Many introverts feel at their most charming when behind the screen. Take the time to type out exactly what you wish you had said.

Do it your way.

If something feels totally uncomfortable, you can only force yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. If you try to take giant leaps, or to completely go against your instincts, you’ll be miserable and everyone will be able to tell. Realistically, what are your social limits? Define them for yourself. Then, work within them at first. Once you gain a level of comfort at this first level, slowly branch out. Then do it again. Networking and self-promotion are skills you must nurture and grow—if it takes you longer than your extrovert peers, so be it. You’ll get there.

About the author

Michael Hoon