Some might call me a personality test junkie. Meyers Briggs. Enneagram. StrengthsFinder. I’ve taken them all and then some. The findings? I’m a social introvert who likes to build deep connections and get stuff done.
Being an introvert in the professional world can often feel like being an alien on a strange planet. Rituals like networking events or group brainstorms that seem to energize others have a draining effect instead. I can’t singlehandedly change the system, but I can game the system. Here’s how I make my introversion work for me:
You’ll find me at events that look like networking events on the outside, but, in reality, they are something deeper. I join professional groups with like-minded people who aren’t just interested in collecting business cards as if they were trading cards. We build relationships. We have real life conversations. And when I’m looking for a designer, a coach, or a developer, I know exactly who to ask.
It doesn’t take much for a group event to overwhelm me. That’s why I focus on one-on-one interactions. At events, I try to talk to one or two people at a time. This is where I thrive. It allows me to build a valuable relationship without getting too far out of my comfort zone. After events, I like to follow up with people I met briefly to see if they’d like to grab coffee or a drink. One-one-ones help me build a network on my own terms.
At its core, my introversion means that I get my energy from being alone. Breaks are necessary for me, especially after weeks filled with meetings and events. I have to give myself permission to say no to hanging out with friends, or going to an event that would be “good for me to go to” in order to recharge. After a night that involves a bath, a book, and restful sleep, I’m back in action.
Introversion exists on a spectrum, so what works for me might feel intimidating for you. That’s okay. Experiment on yourself. What energizes you? What drains you? How do you need to recharge?
The questions will help you find a professionalism that works for you.