Simple strategies for Introverts to be seen, heard and remembered.

The thing I find most charming and endearing about Introverts is that they don’t “give it away” all at once. Getting to know an Introvert is kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion, or digging for hidden treasure. The more you peel, the more you dig, the more you discover, and the more interesting they become. Sometimes, however, this reality does not work in the Introvert’s favour. As an Introvert myself, I know that sometimes others just don’t have the time or the inclination to dig or peel.

In the workplace, on the social scene, and in relationships, our success can rely on our ability to be noticed, and to make an impression. I call this being “seen, heard, and remembered”. The following are simple strategies to help Introverts do just that.

“Simple”? Yes, but two considerations before we go any further…

First off, remove yourself from the company of any Extraverted parties in the room. Many of the skills Introverts would like to develop, and habits we would like to form are things that tend to come quite naturally to the Extravert. They don’t really get that these behaviours sometimes require an uncomfortable effort for us, or that we must actually do them quite deliberately. I expect that it probably all sounds quite ridiculous to them! Second, many of the strategies might seem “simple” but who ever said ‘simple’ was ‘easy’? Often the simplest actions can be terribly difficult; at different times for lots of different reasons.

“Throwing a big rock”? No, just a few stones …

The following strategies are drawn from the many experiences, stories and successes shared with me by the wonderful real-life Introverts in my life and my workshops. These are some “small” things we can do to enhance our engagement with the world, to make an impact, to ensure we are noticed (ie. to make a SPLASH!), without hoisting a huge bolder over our head and heaving it into the pond. Remember the finesse involved in skipping stones? That’s what we are looking for.

Most of these ideas relate to Strategy #2, “Swim to the Other Side of the Pool” from my book (written with Introverts in mind) called SPLASH! This strategy focuses on making connections, particularly with Extraverts. It acknowledges that we (Introverts) have a natural inclination to respond rather than to initiate contact, and that the opposite is true for Extraverts. (It’s also about tapping into the energy of the Extravert for your own devious purposes!)

1. Provide a Reason for Others to Initiate Contact
For example, at a conference or professional event, you can be the one with the supplementary handout, or serving the wine, or working the registration table. This puts you in the more comfortable position of responding vs. initiating, and also gives you the opportunity to show how articulate and knowledgeable you are.

2. Use the Phone
Extraverts like it better, and will tend to check and respond to voice messages sooner than the carefully crafted emails Introverts prefer.

3. Speed Up
Walk a little faster. Talk a little faster. And while you are at it, talk a little louder too! (Not all the time; try it in bursts, especially when someone’s watching!)

4. Have Your Answer Prepared
We are inevitably faced with the dreaded question “so what’s new and exciting?” (Don’t you hate it when all those interesting things you’ve done in the last month somehow just fly out of your head?) Put some thought into your response in advance. Do what Extraverts do – embellish or make it up. Extraverts always sound so seamlessly unplanned. The key to getting the same spontaneous effect for Introverts is to plan or even practice ahead of time.

5. Psych Yourself Up (Pre-Energizing!)
One of my favourite clients is a fun-loving, fast-paced Extravert. When I’m preparing for a call to her, I get the key objective of my call very clear in my mind. I determine what my approach will be, and I come up with a punchy opening comment or question to start with. OK … here comes the goofy part. Then I jump up and down a few times, make some noise, and call her standing up. Try it sometime. I bet you will notice a difference.

6. Turn On Their Tap
Just get Extraverts started. Be friendly and approachable. Ask a couple of great open-ended questions about them. Any Extravert worth his salt will run with it and talk and talk and talk! I love to tap into the Extravert’s wonderful energy this way. (The trick is to get energized, not exhausted!)

7. Be Congruent
Be very aware of what your body is “saying”. Are your words and your body language in synch? Our body language can sometimes scream messages we think nobody can hear. Looking approachable goes a long way towards initiating contact. Get feedback from a trusted friend or two on how you come across.

“I feel like I’m just faking it”

Don’t worry if it feels unnatural, or like you are faking it at first. Whenever we do things in a new or different way it’s bound to feel uncomfortable or even inauthentic at the start. I like to think about using some of these strategies as “being me, only better”. Try a few, and keep doing the things that work for you.

Carole Cameron is an accomplished speaker, trainer and psychological type enthusiast with over 20 years experience helping organizations, individuals and teams maximize personal and professional effectiveness.

Carole is the President of Creative Performance Solutions, which specializes in providing customized training design and facilitation, focused in the areas of management effectiveness and team building. She is the author of the book, “SPLASH! An Introvert’s Guide to Being Seen, Heard and Remembered”.