Do you need to be sociable to be successful? In a culture where it’s all about who you know, what if you prefer to be alone?
Claire Deane is not a people person. And she’s quite fine with that.
The business owner and author of Charge Up: Build a business and manage your energy with your introversion superpowers is unashamedly an introvert. But that doesn’t make her rude or antisocial. She simply knows how to work in a way that suits her personality type.
“Being an introvert doesn’t mean you want to hide in a cave,” she says. “It means that rather than generating energy by being around other people, we re-energise when we’re by ourselves.” Which is great, because solitude is said to be a crucial ingredient for creativity. The space allows ideas to incubate and grow in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
So in a world where co-working and collaboration is commonplace in many workplaces, how can introverts add value to their team in a way that truly plays to their strengths?
1. Be organised before an event so you’re never forced to talk off the cuff. While extroverts are great at thinking on the fly and sharing their ideas, introverts are often more considered and like the opportunity to think through their response.
2. Set boundaries in the workplace to avoid becoming a ‘yes person’. Have headphones handy to avoid interruptions, or include a footnote in your email signature explaining that you only check emails three times a day.
3. Book your own hotel room. This is key if you’re a frequent traveller with colleagues. At the very least, have input in the agenda to ensure some time alone.
4. At an event, don’t expect to make 20 new contacts, just aim to speak to one new person.
5. Network individually. Send an email to someone you admire and ask them for coffee.
6. Make yourself known online. Write a blog, or share someone else’s content.
7. If you’re going to a conference or event, research the guest list first. Ask your Twitter followers who is attending, write on the event’s Facebook wall and try to digitally make at least one contact before you arrive.
No matter if you prefer to brainstorm in a group or work quietly in a café, the way to the top is the same distance whether you stomp or tiptoe your way there.