Introverts’ strengths are just as valuable as those of extroverts, but it’s up to us to (quietly) do our own self-promotion.
As an introverted office worker, I spent my 20s diligently working away in the background, oblivious to the laws of the corporate jungle. I naïvely thought that my talents would be rightly recognized and rewarded with promotions and pay rises.
How wrong I was.
After being passed over for a promotion — again — my French CEO looked pityingly at me over his desk before leaning forward and whispering the magic formula:
Savoir-faire et faire-savoir.
“Knowing your stuff and making it known” might be the ticket to corporate riches, but how, as an introvert, do you achieve this lofty goal?
Learning to Use My Introvert Strengths to Promote Myself in the Workplace
The CEO’s well-meaning advice felt as foreign to me as flying to the moon. As the “quiet one” in the office, I was content to let my extroverted colleagues bask in the limelight while I beavered away in the background. But as others received pay rises and promotions, resentment set in. Why should I be penalized just because I had no desire to blow my own trumpet?
Since that job, I’ve slowly learned that there are ways that introverts can use their inherent skills and talents to quietly promote themselves in the workplace. Our strengths are just as valuable as those of our extrovert counterparts, but it’s up to us to take responsibility for our own self-promotion.
As I discovered through my painful experience, nobody else will do it for you, so it’s up to you to find your own way through. Here are five ways to quietly raise your profile at work as an introvert.
5 Ways to (Quietly) Raise Your Profile at Work as an Introvert
1. Reframe your perception of self-promotion.
Conjuring up images of rabid politicians, the words “self-promotion” used to have me squirming in my seat. But reframing self-promotion as storytelling put things into an entirely different perspective. Storytelling enables you to narrate the story of your success from a different vantage point, creating comfortable distance when talking about your achievements. It also allows you to use your creativity to engage with your audience’s imagination. Once the imagination is engaged, your audience can’t help but connect with the story you’re telling.
Recently, I provided a staff presentation on a volunteer placement where I supported people who were unemployed long-term. By putting the focus of the story firmly on the recipients’ journeys, I managed to quietly convey my own qualities of empathy, persuasion, and perseverance in a subtle, yet powerful, way.
I know, verbal storytelling is not for everyone — and probably not the number-one choice among most introverts. But storytelling can be done in written forms, too, such as through reports or persuasive pitches.
And if you have to take part in a dreaded group project at work, perhaps you can do the written part of the presentation while someone who likes talking in front of others can do the verbal part. That way, you’re still using your introvert skills as best you can — and everybody wins.
2. Mentor junior staff members.
It’s a well-known fact that introverts are suited to the caring professions due to our innate ability to tune into how others are feeling. And putting ourselves in other’s shoes makes us ideally suited to mentoring junior staff members.
In my current role, I have taken on two mentee apprentices who are now on the same journey of navigating the perplexing world of office politics for the first time. Not only does mentoring allow me to help them develop confidence in themselves, but it also helps me to raise my profile by association.
And, this year alone, my mentoring has led to two interviews in the staff newsletter. I’ve also been invited to appear on a staff webinar for National Apprenticeship Week, elevating my status to one of the organization’s leading mentors. While some people may not think introverts make great leaders and role models, they’re wrong, and I’m proof.
3. Use social media to promote corporate messages.
Social media is a great way to align yourself with corporate messaging in a visible way. By promoting the achievements of the organization, you position yourself as a team player while also quietly raising your profile at the same time… all without having to speak!
Social media is the great equalizer in its ability to allow introverts and extroverts to communicate on equal footing. LinkedIn is my favorite platform, as it enables me to connect with senior management from a comfortable distance, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be able to view and respond to my posts.
It also calls for strong creative skills and enables introverts to think through what they’re going to say before posting, something that’s not always possible to do in office meetings or Zoom calls.
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4. Get involved in a cause you care about.
For introverts, finding meaningful work is key to career satisfaction. But if you’ve failed to land a job with Amnesty International, there are still ways you can find meaningful expression in your current corporate job. As the world changes, businesses are compelled to examine their own practices — hence, the sudden rise of the equalities and diversity agenda in the wake of Black Lives Matter. These events create the perfect storm for staff to develop sub-groups where individuals can become allies and come together to find solutions to problems in their own organization.
This smaller group dynamic, combined with the careful exploration of meaningful subject matter, is particularly well-suited to introverts. In my own organization, I’ve recently joined a Women’s Network. In the wake of a recent femicide case, I’m quietly raising my profile and realizing my purpose by organizing self-defense classes for female staff members.
5. Create meaningful relationships with people in positions of power.
While networking firmly belongs in the extrovert camp, it’s the quality, not quantity, of your relationships that matter in the corporate world. As an introvert, I cringe at the thought of engaging in small talk with senior management at the water cooler. However, my participation in the Women’s Network has brought me into close contact with one of our senior directors. In this small group setting, I find it much easier to connect over meaningful discussions, where I can also demonstrate my passion and commitment to the causes that I care about.
I’ve also made use of my organization’s open-door policy, which allows staff to have a 10-minute chat with a member of senior management on set days every quarter. This provides introverts with a golden opportunity for a meaningful one-on-one connection with a senior manager who you may not otherwise get the chance to speak to.
Plus, the appointment schedule provides time to think about pertinent discussion topics in advance, in order to create connection during the meeting and be remembered long after the meeting ends. If such a system doesn’t already exist in your office, make a suggestion to your Human Resources department and help your fellow introverts make the connections they need to succeed in today’s corporate jungle.