GRRRL’s Guide to Managing Your Career as an Introvert

Managing Your Career as an Introvert
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Let’s just put it out there, the world as we know it is optimized and customized for extroverts. And almost any work-related experience will show you just that: if you face difficulties speaking up, or speaking in front of a room full of co-workers and bosses at that, you’ll feel left out, and even cut short from showcasing your skills and talents.

Which leaves us with this: how can introverts get noticed at work? When starting a career or switching jobs or companies, you have to connect with others and build relationships. Traditionally, this “task” is easier for extroverts than it is for introverts.

Does this mean that we have to “suck it up”, and willingly do what makes us extremely uncomfortable in order to succeed? In all honesty, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable no matter who you are or what you do. Comfort zones kill.

However, there are many ways to establish new methods to showcase who you are in your career, without having to feel twice as much stress as your average run-of-the-mill extrovert.

Would you like to get down to business and get some networking tips for introverts? Great! Let’s begin.

So, without any further ado, let’s comfortably get into the uncomfortable!

1. What is introversion?

By its basic definition, introversion is the quality of being shy or reserved. An introvert, if you will.

In our society, being an introvert has had many heavily highlighted downsides, because we are never fully vocal enough about all the good sides. And believe us, every situation has a good side, every single one.

Although we can describe introversion as a personality style, or even a lifestyle, its characteristics are basic preferences for experiencing life from an inner perspective, more so than from an outer, more extroverted one. Mind over matter, that sort of thing, you know?

Basically, an introvert may not be too outgoing at an office cocktail party, however, they are much better at one-on-one engaging talks with a co-worker or boss even. This can leave a unique personal impression, or make them more memorable, as they thrive in isolated situations.

That would be the bright side of introversion. After all, with all that time spent alone to recharge from social gatherings, they spend a lot of time analyzing everything in their heads, and wouldn’t you know, that brainpower comes in quite handy from time to time.

2. The extrovert environment

Unfortunately for us, we don’t really understand how extroverts get more energy after socializing. Especially if they have been doing it all around the office, all day long.

So, where does that leave us? Are we expected to be just as outgoing, with an obnoxious “go get ‘em” mentality? Hmm, not necessarily.

Let’s think of it this way: There are so many bosses, managers, and team leaders who are introverts by nature out there. How did they get where they are? By imitating something they’re not? We don’t think so. And even if they did, that wouldn’t be for the long run.
For example, can introverts become extroverts? Not really, or not fully. You either are something in your core or are not. However, that’s not to say you can’t be both, or 80% one and 20% the other. Things are never only white or black but range in many shades of grey in between. You just have to find which shade suits you the most.

Personally, I have met so many trad introverts in the sales department. Yes, a traditionally extroverted line of work, dominated by introverts. Can you believe it? Because we can.

They found a way to stay comfortable enough to be and function the way they usually do, along with the other half of the job: extroversion.

It is that “meet me halfway” mentality, where you’ll take whatever has been given to you and succeed at your own pace and way. We believe that workplaces have become more introvert-friendly in the last couple of years, as office societal issues have been more worked upon than ever before. There has never been as much inclusion as there is now, so we are hopefully looking at a very bright and less extroversion-oriented future.

This is why the whole career path for introverts thing never sat right with us. This extroversion-made world has just created this illusion that introverts can’t do certain jobs, or succeed. It’s pure bs, and we all know it.

3. Networking as an introvert

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A useful skill most people overlook is an area of real strength for many introverts, which is maintaining existing relationships. Instead of a churn and burn strategy where you’re constantly adding new connections, forgetting them, and letting them wither, you have the rare opportunity to meet fewer people but get to know them on a deeper level and keep them in your network over time.

It doesn’t take much, just a quick catch-up call or email every once in a while, or sending them an article you think they’d enjoy. It can genuinely make all the difference.

Also contrary to popular belief, introverts often have an advantage in becoming the connectors. It may sound difficult, but it’s actually very attainable. If you’ve taken the time to really get to know someone, you probably have a good idea about what they’re like as a person, what their hobbies and interests are, and what kind of professional connections would be useful to them.

It’s like very close friends…With very important, work-related benefits. While extroverts on average have a more surface-level interest in forging connections, yours, on the contrary, are more likely to last or be even more valuable.

4. Prioritizing networking opportunities

Networking for introverts is very important because as you grow and go upwards in your career, the time you are left with gets shorter. Furthermore, as an introvert, we usually have to conserve our social energy. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you triage and determine where you should be spending your time:

The first question is always, how important is the networking event? The next question is, will you enjoy it? How beneficial will it be overall? Who is going to attend? Are you in the right state of mind to even attend, or is it objectively better to sit this one out?

Put up a pros and cons list and make an objective conclusion that would feed both your introverted needs, as well as your career. It isn’t as difficult as it is in our heads, remember that!

5. Getting noticed

You can stand out and be interesting to others based on the hobbies you pursue. And more importantly, the things you are very good at.

Another great way for introverts to get noticed and draw positive attention is through writing or social media. It is very common now, especially for folks who prefer staying in their room over the outside world, to find ways to monetize their indoor hobbies and creative careers for introverts through the internet.

From YouTubers to Instagram artists and influencers, all the way to stay-at-home writers and content creators. Are you an illustrator? Are you good at it? Why not put in the effort to put your art out there, rather than yourself directly? Now aren’t those some of the best jobs for introverts with anxiety you’ve ever heard of? Safe from the comfort of your own home and it pays the bills.

Today, more than ever before, it is quite easy to capture the attention of folks who scroll and seek interesting content for hours on end. I mean, you could even be a mean TikTok star if you really put your mind to it.

The sky truly is the limit! Or for us introverts, our room ceilings I suppose.

6. Own your introversion

The author Susan Cain with her popular TED talk and her book about introversion officially made it cool to be an introvert in this day and age. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, made quite the headlines contrary to its rather quieter name. 

In the book, she calls the western world’s misinterpretation of introversion “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness”. She continues to explain how we introverts also follow this very wrong snd hurtful agenda, to either cross to the other side or “fail”. This way, we set ourselves up for failure when we believe our minds or the way they function, are not strong or optimized enough to get us where we want to be.

This is why introverts make good leaders because on average, they always observe the environment around them, so they know each detail of the given situation, placing them with some of the best decision-making skills you’ve ever seen.

She also introduces us to all the famous introverts who have led their industry in this rather loud world: Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak, and so many more.

It shows us how anyone can succeed in a world that makes you think you have to be wired a certain way in order to make your name and mind known in it. Well, Susan sure doesn’t think it’s true, and neither should you.

Speaking of writers and books for introverts, here are a couple you should also take a look at:

7. Managing introvert energy

As introverts, we have to find useful ways to manage our energy and how we distribute it. For argument purposes, let’s say our batteries are almost always on 30% (for other people), so we are very limited as to where this energy goes.

Prioritizing the most important social aspects of your career is rule number one. Since we know ourselves and how our minds function, we can’t be caught overstimulating our energy in order to fit in. Finding a better, more optimized solution is the only answer.

If a friend gathering has to take a raincheck due to a very high social work setting, then your friends should understand. Especially if you know how you are. But for the sake of our mental health, choosing friends first is important too! Balance is the best option here, just try and make it work however you can.

8. Find extrovert allies

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For every introvert I know, there’s their extrovert best friend/co-worker. They are like yin and yang because they push each other to dive deep into what they’re lacking. For extroverts, that’s maybe thinking in silence for once, but for introverts, that’s speaking up.

In many cases, an extrovert ally can speak up for you when words can’t seem to reach you. They don’t have to understand your mind, but they can speak it. They can even help bring your ideas to life. Introverted artist, extroverted digital marketer, you know? A match made in heaven.

9. Prepare your talking points

Sometimes, words don’t come to those not used to saying them aloud too often. This is why it’s super important to carefully prepare your talking points before stepping into that meeting or onto that stage.

Make sure you openly come from point A to point B, with as much confidence as possible. And we know how overwhelming or hard it can be to share your ideas with a friend, let alone in a conference room for example. But leaving your comfort zone is the only way to reach that halfway career paradise we discussed previously.

That’s not to say you should Trump or Kanye West your way around words, but a little push in the right direction will take you a long way.

So remember, come prepped and believe in the words you’ve written the night before. Here’s a little extroverted secret right here: They believe in themselves before anyone else, that is why they are so comfortable being themselves in front of everybody. They have a whole person fully believing in them: themselves.

So maybe we should take it from the louder group, just a little bit.

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