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The Friday Five

How Introverts Can Thrive in the Whirlwind of Work

Five pointers to help you stand up and stand out.

By Jane Finkle

In today’s legal marketplace, the competition is steep for securing and holding on to a good job, and demonstrating high performance is a must for advancing one’s career. Having a more introverted style may create additional challenges and stress for you — especially in the rapid-fire of the modern-day workplace that seems more suited to outgoing personalities.

Introverts can rely on strengths such as creating calm and using a thoughtful perspective to enhance their position in the workplace. However, it is equally important to express what makes you unique and competent while keeping clients, staff and stakeholders up to date on important issues.

You may feel stressed working in the fast lane, but it’s crucial to stand up and be counted. The trick is to embrace the many good points of introversion that have already carried you this far while sprinkling in some extraverted skills. Here are five pointers.

1. Be Mindful of Visibility

Introverts often prefer to think through a problem on their own. But don’t let that tendency get in the way of soliciting support and gathering advice from a partner, colleague or thought leader. While it’s OK to work quietly in your office, find ways to communicate regularly and effectively with staff and clients. Take opportunities every day to engage with a few co-workers or partners who seem to be free for a short chat. Often, a brief conversation can lead to resolving a problem or act as a springboard for new ideas.

2. Self-Marketing

Visibility also means promoting your accomplishments to ensure that clients and colleagues are aware of how you excel in your work. Your tendency to be modest isn’t an asset at work. When a case or project produces successful results, or you have introduced a new concept, make sure everyone with whom you work closely knows. You don’t have to make a public announcement — send out an email to select recipients.  When you are given credit for an accomplishment, don’t downplay your efforts with a statement like, “It wasn’t that difficult. A simple “thank you” will do. Be sure to let your wider circle of professional contacts know about any impressive results in your work life as well.

3. Promote Yourself in Real-Time

The tentacles of social media may loom large and threatening from your point of view since extroverts prefer privacy. However, exposing a portion of your private self enables you to join the online ranks of other successful professionals. Platforms like LinkedIn allow you to put quality thought into building your brand and establishing an attractive online presence. Not only does social media give you time to think before you write, but you can sit relaxed at your comfortable desk and quietly promote your business as well as reach out to establish valuable professional contacts.

4. Supercharge Your Network

Take networking up another notch to further support your career. While you may tend to be reserved, introverts can find many creative and comfortable approaches to establish and sustain healthy professional networks. Think of professional relationships as fuel that accelerates your career and ensures that you don’t find yourself with an empty tank at any crucial point in your career.

  • Do lunch. Getting out of your office confines at lunchtime refreshes the spirit. It also creates an ideal opportunity to establish a more effective one-on-one working relationship with a colleague, partner or prospective client. Schedule one or two lunches a month. Remember, face-to-face is the best approach in relationships and it is often your forte. (See “Get Out of the Office and Connect With Your Next Client” by Teddy Snyder.)
  • Keep in touch. It’s important to keep an open line with your key contacts. Consider how supportive their advice and counsel could be if you are faced with a future event, such as a sudden layoff or a decision to find a new position.
  • Give back. As you continue to build your network, consider ways you can reciprocate. Pay it back by giving some equally worthy advice and counsel to your contacts when they are job hunting or at a crossroads and needing guidance. (See “Rewarding Your Referral Sources” by Sally Schmidt.)

5. Adapt to Change

Your career health and success will depend on your ability to accept the rapid pace of change in today’s work world. Be open to taking risks. If your current work situation is causing conflict, use your reflective thinking skills to try a new approach or adjust your strategy. Learn to embrace technology as an ally that will advance your knowledge and lead you toward tasks that can further your career.

Remember, you don’t have to be the headliner in every storyline of your work. However, your effort and results should demonstrate that you are a high performer.

Remember to Take a Breather

Sometimes work requires you to “be on” for most of the day. As we discussed in “How Introverts Recharge After a Stressful Day,” it’s important to take short breaks from the fray. After an intense meeting with a client or a long conference call, take a brief walk down the hallway or close your door for some welcome solitude. Even just a few slow deep breaths can refresh and restore your energy.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

For more on thriving at work, read:

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Jane Finkle

Jane Finkle is a career coach, speaker and author with more than 25 years of experience helping clients with career assessment and workplace adjustment. Jane served as Associate Director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania where she created and led the Wharton Career Discovery seminar, and served as liaison to recruiters from major corporations. She has been published in the Huffington Post, Adirondack Life, Talent Development and mindbodygreen. Her newest book is “The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide.” Learn more at www.janefinkle.com and follow her on Twitter @JaneFinkle.

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