An Introvert's Guide to Self-Promotion at Work: 5 Tips That Won't Make You Wince
By Raina Keefer
"So," says the black-suited interviewer, "tell me about your accomplishments."
If we fast forward five minutes, would you still be considering your reply? If you're an introvert, your mindgrapes might have hijacked your vocal cords and started a misguided inner monologue: "Does she want to know about the time that I completed eight proposals in one day while juggling circus elephants? Nah, I was just doing my job."
Because fortune tends to favor the fast and bold, introverts are seemingly at a disadvantage when it comes to self-promotion. Not only are introverts often uncomfortable playing up their good deeds, but they also look for meaning and authenticity in all interactions - even networking, which on many levels can feel superficial and disingenuous.
After all, in such situations, YOU are your agenda, the pursuit of which can lead to unnatural segues and awkward, halting small talk. It's enough to make even the most extroverted introvert run with scissors.
Follow these five tips to genuinely self-promote and get ahead at work - without feeling disingenuous.
1. Create something to talk about
Although introverts can't - and shouldn't - avoid face-to-face contact to get that job, promotion or just recognition, the Internet and technology allow for many different forms of self-promotion.
Creative websites, professional blogs or other demonstrations of skills and accomplishments (even resumes) can serve as a foundation for future conversations and can give actual meaning and substance to subsequent interactions, including interviews and networking. To butcher Bonnie Raitt's timeless classic, "it gives you something to talk about."
Though introverts aren't necessarily more creative than extroverts, "creativity occurs in an introverted space." So all that time spent in your head might translate to a natural ability to create these self-promotional displays. Plus, focusing on something you enjoy creating could override the natural instinct to remain mum about your talents.
2. Shut down parts of your brain to just tell your story
Banish the inner monologue, or at least the parts that suggest you haven't done anything worthy of being on a world stage. No need for grandstanding, which - no surprise - introverts dislike,according to psychologist Felicitas Heyne.
Instead focus on telling your story. Moreover, writing about your accomplishments in your own voice (where you can revise and revise some more) can help you repeat them later more naturally.
3. Own the process
Don't be intimidated by technology. You don't have to know C++ or be an HTML expert to build your "hey, look what I've done" online resource.
Nor do you have to be Jean Phillippe Pepe Lepew, designer extraordinaire, to develop a presence that's true to you.
4. Imitate, but make it meaningful
Find what you like and adopt a similar theme or writing style. Start by gaining some inspiration from these folks, regardless of where they fall on the introvert/extrovert scale:
Philippe Dubost, web guy: In case you missed it, in 2013 Dubost designed his resume to look like an Amazon product page. His imitation page was overwhelmed by traffic and eventually led to a job at NYC's innovative Birchbox.
Brian Clark, entrepreneur and former real estate broker and attorney: Clark, a self-professed introvert, started Copyblogger in 2006 as a one-person blog with a focus on online content marketing. It's since grown into a legit software and content marketing training organization. Such level of development may not be on your self-promotional plan, but if you have the knowledge, people will pay for it. And it's certainly something worth talking about.
Patrick Smith, pilot: On Ask the Pilot, Smith shares his extensive knowledge on what he calls the "theater" of air travel with posts such as "Rummaging Through the Seat Pocket of the Mind," miscellaneous musings on air travel. Instead of noting specific accomplishments, Smith relies on readers and members of the media to provide accolades.
Paul Bogus, middle school teacher: This Connecticut educator puts his accomplishments in plain sight on his blog, where he discusses his students' activities, his passion for education and his unique style of educating.
5. Enjoy sharing your experiences
Write about what you know and make it fun lest the brain lobes sense things are amiss and talk you out of your self-promotion destiny. If you get stuck,consider going through previous performance evaluations as a reminder of what you have to offer. It's likely more than you think.
What if I'm not funny or a writer? Stop it. You are funny. Probably.
And writing quality is relative. If you're a geoscientist, chances are you write like a geoscientist, possibly with the indecipherable handwriting of a physician (no judgement). If you're really concerned your writing isn't up to snuff, ask a trusted colleague to look over what you've created.
Or, if you're lucky enough to have talented friends or family, maybe they'll just do it for you. After my husband Ryan was laid off, I created Hire My Veteran and wrote some entertaining blog posts about his skills and personality. The site has since generated more than 1,000 visits and is a storyline of his professional life and a unique selling point, which is an easy go-to topic in a variety of interactions.
Ready to make your "you" agenda easier to accomplish? Let's start with your tale of triumphs.
Raina Keefer is a freelance writer and owner of Quickwitwriter LLC. When not writing or promoting her husband's qualifications, she's off playing office scrabble or cooking new paleo recipes.
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