By Lauren Ho
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose
Does the thought of having to stand up in front of a crowd and deliver a presentation make your palms sweat? What about making small talk with strangers? Or mingling at a networking event? If your heart’s already starting to race, then trust me, I know exactly how you feel.
As a self-diagnosed introvert, I can tell you that navigating the working world as an introvert can be intimidating at times, but it is possible to succeed. In fact, some of your introverted traits may even be considered invaluable assets.
But first, how do you tell whether you really are an introvert or not? Here’s the method I subscribe to:
- If you gain energy from being by yourself and snuggling up with a good book, you’re most likely an introvert.
- If you gain energy from socializing and being around people, you’re probably an extrovert.
Traditionally, extroverts have been championed as the workplace ideal; they’re the ones who are often associated with words like “confidence,” “charisma,” “leadership” and “CEO.” But what about the introverts? Where do they fit into the working world?
When you’re an introvert, people tend to assume that you should stick to a career that fits an introverted personality. But that’s not necessarily true.
Just because you’re quiet, doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed in PR or marketing or sales, or any other industry that’s typically associated with extroverted, vivacious types. With the right skills and the right attitude, you should be able to excel at any career path that you choose. You just need to have the right frame of mind.
Here are three pieces of advice to help introverts survive and thrive in the PR workplace:
1. Identify your strengths
Introverts learn through observation, and are often very thoughtful, focused and detail-oriented. Plus, they make great listeners. Just because introverts are quiet during a meeting, doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking in and absorbing all that is around them. When introverts do speak up, pay attention. They’ll often share a point of view that is extremely valuable. Introverts: be sure to recognize and embrace the positive qualities that accompany your unique personality type.
2. Practice, practice, practice
As an introvert, your first instinct might be to run away from any situation that makes you uncomfortable or forces you into the limelight. But more often than not, taking a risk and pushing outside of your comfort zone can be a rewarding and affirming thing.
The next step is to practice, practice, practice. If you have a big presentation or an important new business pitch coming up that you’ve been dreading, stop procrastinating and start preparing now. Being proactive can help tremendously with settling your nerves and boosting your confidence.
3. Develop strong one-on-one relationships
If you’re an introvert, chances are you don’t tend to enjoy being the center of attention, especially when a large group is involved. Instead, make sure to schedule time for one-on-one conversations. Identifying and nurturing these kinds of one-on-one relationships is pivotal for cultivating trust with the people you work with and making sure that your voice is heard.
While these three guidelines will help you immensely in gaining the confidence you need to succeed, the best piece of advice I can give you is to simply be brave. Finding the courage to push past what’s comfortable and embracing the skills you do have will do wonders for your career.
Do you have any other tips for introverts? Please share in the comments below.