We’re all told, time and time again, that networking is important and that meeting new people can be crucial to your career. But what if you’re more introverted, the type of person who isn’t so comfortable going up to strangers or gets overwhelmed in larger groups of people? Today, Oni Lusk-Stover, Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank and self-proclaimed introvert, shares with us the 5 tips she uses to network, build relationships, manage people, and succeed within a large organization.
1. In all that you do, be your genuine self.
People respond to genuine requests, offers, and hellos! If you want something, don’t play games or act in a strange way. “Just try as much as possible to be your genuine self. If your genuine self is an introvert, embrace that...it takes time, and so just be patient with yourself and figure out a path that could work for you.”
2. Find your own external source of inspiration.
It’s not always easy to put your best foot forward, so finding a greater purpose can help you mentally stay on track and achieve your goals. “An inspiration in my personal life which drives my professional purpose and vision are my god-siblings (I am the oldest god daughter for my godparents). I am close with all of the other godchildren and they inspire and motivate me to be my best self.”
2. Network in a way that feels comfortable to you.
“For me, it’s just been a process of getting to know myself and realizing that I feel comfortable one on one. If I go to a large group event, I may not be the person who asks a question, but I can follow up with the speaker through email, or in some other way that feels genuine to me. And I think that’s really important, really figuring out in terms of communication what works for me as an introvert.”
3. Have awareness of others’ personality types.
“Given I manage people, I’m not managing only introverts, so also having the self-awareness to say, ‘Okay, this is what works for me, but if I was an extrovert, how would I think differently about this?’ And with managing a team, I have team meetings every week. In those team meetings I recognize that by and large the extroverts on my team will speak up, but my introverts won’t. So then I also have, every week, one on one meetings so that those who won’t speak up and say ‘I don’t know about that’ or ‘ I don’t agree with that ‘ or ‘that doesn’t work for me'...introverts don’t tend to be confrontational in that way in groups, but they will feel more comfortable saying ‘oh, I wasn’t sure about that’ or ‘I had a question about that’ if we have a one on one discussion just the two of us.
4. And more than anything, have awareness of yourself!
“Recognize that, that in the working world you’re going to come across a spectrum of humanity, not just in terms of personality types, but in terms of motivation. And so by knowing yourself, you can know others.”
Thanks so much, Oni! You were such a blast to talk to, and these tips are helpful for all! (Photo credit: Oni Lusk-Stover)