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Confessions of an Introvert

The Shy Girl’s Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most Out of Life

Confessions of an Introvert by Meghan Wier
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Are you an introvert who wants to succeed in the business world? Do you:Avoid unnecessary social interaction?Keep to yourself or to your small group of friends?Seek out time alone? Confessions of an Introvert offers you practical advice, interspersed with real-life stories, that will help you overcome your shyness and find ways to have a satisfying future in the corporate world. Packed with valuable insights and personal anecdotes, Confessions of an Introvert will teach you:Why business networking is the key to professional growth and how even the shyest person can learn how to network That a little self-promotion goes a long way in showing others how good a businessperson you are How to communicate with people in a way that is comfortable to you but still gets the results you need That being an introvert is just a part of who you are and not a serious roadblock to your successConfessions of an Introvert is a must-read for any introvert seeking to excel in business and get the most out of life.
Sourcebooks, Inc.; January 2008
226 pages; ISBN 9781572489929
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Confessions of an Introvert
Author: Meghan Wier
As an introvert, I can honestly say that I have never been one for the spotlight, and I generally don't crave much attention of any kind. I cringe at the thought of public speaking, and I will avoid phone calls with new people if possible - even if just to order pizza. However, I believe that I have always worked very hard in my professional career, and I do appreciate being recognized for that hard work. The feeling of accomplishment, pride in my work, and the desire to be considered successful drive me to do more and to be more - and sometimes that means doing things that push my comfort level and stretch my boundaries.After several years of reflection and candid conversations with other people about my own challenges as a businesswoman, and later as a business owner, I realized that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of us out there - shy, introverted professionals who are trying to triumph in business while balancing the demands of life, family, and convention. I began to examine what it is about me and others that creates the obstacles for career advancement and business success, and to my surprise, much of it came down to inherent personality traits. I hadn't ever labeled myself an introvert, although I certainly knew I was one. But until I took the time to understand the reasons for my own eventual happiness and career success, I was not aware how much the introversion, and my later ability to manage it, had affected my accomplishments.What I came to know is that, beyond dealing with life's regular idiosyncrasies and injustices, introversion and shyness can be career crippling. Introversion often prevents professionals from establishing strong business relationships, speaking up, proving themselves to others, and being viewed as legitimate and knowledgeable. In some cases, a supervisor or peers may see being an introvert as a weakness - leading to slower promotions and career advancement.It is no surprise that to be successful, businesspeople need to be heard from and respected. They need to be considered strong leaders and exude confidence. All that is known; however, as introverts, it is natural to seek occasional solitude, feel the drain from interactions with others, and handle social interaction differently. And this is often contradictory to being seen as strong and capable by the people around us. The introvert is at an immediate disadvantage in a business setting, and this can have serious adverse affects. This is what drove me to investigate the habits and skills of other successful introverts and to seek ways to harness that knowledge and share it with others.I am a shy introvert, but that does not mean that I'm a recluse, socially inept, or unsuccessful in my career. It does not mean that I lack confidence or that I am not a strong leader respected by my peers. It does, however, mean that I have had to use my natural abilities as an introvert. Instinctually I crave time spent alone thinking and preparing. I enjoy the opportunity and excel at working alone, and I have need of fewer, but stronger, relationships than many of my peers. As an introvert, I know I handle social situations differently, and so I use this to adapt my behavior to be the most effective when faced with these types of challenges.My research and investigation revealed that many successful individuals are introverted, yet they, like me, have learned to project their inner strength outward. As an introvert, this was not a natural process for me but one that evolved through years of first failures and then successes in my professional career.Being successful is different for everyone, but sincerely considering yourself successful is the greatest accomplishment - the greatest success. For a long time I felt that the goals I sought would not be obtainable for an introvert such as myself. There were just too many factors working against me. What I have come to realize is that I put more roadblocks in my own way than others did. I was the one who could most determine and affect my own level of success. If I wanted it, it may have been hard work, but nothing was impossible. Being an introvert did not stop me from doing anything I hoped to do; it only shaped how I might go about doing it.The truth is that success takes on many forms. Success is self-determined, it is relative, and it evolves over time. For many years I was essentially a salesperson, and my success was directly measured by the number of sales I made and the dollars I generated. Struggling in this world, I believed that good salespeople were inherently pushy and ruthless - the people around me were being successful at the expense of the clients whom they were meant to serve. I found that type of behavior sometimes unethical and always unsettling and distasteful. I did not want to succumb to that type of behavior in order to meet a sales goal, but I also hated failure. What I did not know, or what I had forgotten in the race for better numbers, was that success cannot always be singularly defined by one goal. I was focused on how many meetings could be set, calls made, deals closed, and yet I still struggled. It was easier to fail, because it is hard to be motivated by more when you derive no pleasure from any.As an introvert, I did not push myself onto others to make the sale. When I tried to follow the sales strategy set by my supervisors and hammered by sales trainers, I fumbled through it, uncomfortable, uninspired, and ineffective. I bristled at the enthusiastic aggression of my peers as they pushed prospects into buying something that they may not have needed or wanted. I was miserable, and needless to say, I wasn't a great salesperson. As much as I wanted to succeed in my job, I never saw myself excelling in sales, because my misconception was that to truly be good, I would have to be aggressive and extroverted like my coworkers. I felt that to be good at sales, I would have to betray a part of myself and become someone I wasn't and did not wish to be. What I later realized was that I had not worked to find a way to have success as an introverted salesperson. Instead, I pretended I was like those around me, just to fail, feel inadequate, and suffer from ever-lessening self-confidence. A similar scenario played out several more times and in several jobs as I looked to find a career that best suited my values, skills, and personality.