Networking though a business colleague brought author and Forbes blogger Bonnie Marcus and I together two years ago. I was impressed by her passion and smarts and most of all, her total commitment to seeing women succeed. We immediately connected and have been in synch on many of our ideas. We both are passionate about helping women master office politics and move forward in their careers . We know that it doesn’t happen by chance.
Bonnie posed some questions to me about how introverted women can master politics in their own way. She summarized my answers in her Forbes blog post today. Let me share a few excerpts:
Q: It is a common assumption that you need to be an extrovert to be politically savvy……how is it an advantage?
A: Introverts can be very politically savvy. By not rattling their sabers or shouting their ideas in a Type A way, they exert quiet influence. They make a difference by challenging the status quo, provoking new ideas and inspiring others.
They also think before they act, take in the scene around them and put together a strategy that reflects this careful analysis. For instance, in entering a new organization they take time to carefully watch group dynamics, assess the cultural vibe and become familiar with the business focus. They also get a feel for the style of movers and shakers in their midst. Their carefully crafted strategy reflects this analysis.
Q: Self-promotion is critical to build relationships of influence in the workplace. How does an introvert, especially a woman, get comfortable with self-promotion?
A: It starts from within. Try reframing your accomplishments by remembering that by NOT sharing this information, others won’t know what you are contributing. Not only will you be deprived of access to important information but you will lose out on opportunities to contribute to your growth and that of the company’s. So make a commitment to share in ways that are comfortable for you; for instance provide regular written updates to your manager aside from just at performance review times.
Also make a point to schedule “walk arounds” or brief coffees with people in your internal and external networks so they can get to know you and learn about your background, expertise and values. If others know you beyond email exchanges, they are more likely to bring your name up when career options emerge.
Q: The most effective and powerful networks are comprised of people who are willing and able to speak for you. They are not necessarily the people you already know and like. What advice do you have for introverts to move out of their comfort zone and reach out to people they don’t know?
A: ….follow people on social media who interest you and make a comment on their blogs. Ask for an introduction from someone in your network. You might suggest having a face-to-face meeting with the three of you.
Make a point of speaking to someone new every day, even if it just a quick conversation. Some of those acquaintances will become contacts in an expanded network.
Also reach out by email to thought leaders and others in your industry and organization after following their work. React to their content and offer resources to them (ex. links to websites, videos). This is an effective way to initiate conversations and relationships.
Read more from our Q & A about politics for introverts here. And don’t forget to grab a copy of Bonnie’s terrific book The Politics Of Promotion It is a winner.
Here is what I wrote in reviewing her book:
“More than a “rah rah” motivational treatise, The Politics of Promotion sends a strong message that we must work hard AND be smart as women in today’s organizations. I found women’s leadership guru and Forbes columnist Bonnie Marcus’ blend of personal experience, relatable examples and applicable tools a goldmine. Her strategic networking templates alone are worth the price of the book. A great, meaty read for all women and those who support them.”
I know you will agree.