Category Archives: Self Assessment

Professional Networking for Introverts

Back in 2008 I instructed a continuing education course through the University of North Carolina at Charlotte called “Professional Networking for Introverts.”  Although I’d already been a member of LinkedIn for over 4 four years, it was still a relatively obscure social media platform, but I thought it was a particularly good professional networking tool for introverts.  It’s gone through lots of changes since 2008, but LinkedIn remains one of the best tools to help introverts network effectively.

Professional Networking for Introverts

Professional Networking for Introverts

In 2014 Dorie Clark published a short article in the Harvard Business Review called Networking for Introverts that I think offers some good suggestions for introverts to use in advancing the effectiveness of their job-search networking. She recognizes that most introverts prefer “minimally stimulating environments.”

So one of her first suggestions is to create your own events.  These can be smaller events, focused on subject matter of your interest, and you get to control the size and make-up of the audience.  In my experience, if you are willing to do the leg work, others really appreciate the opportunity to attend these types of small events.  I’ve used this technique myself for networking, though not job-search networking.  I created a Power Podium to bring speakers in to speak on energy topics of interest to the ~25 person office in which I work. In addition, I invite about 5 to 10 other power industry professionals with whom I (and I assume others in my office) would like to network.  We don’t regularly schedule the Power Podiums; in fact some are very opportunistic, like when a speaker happens to be in Charlotte from out of town.  But it provides a forum where I can offer some continuity of speakers.  I got the idea for the Power Podium from when I was invited to speak to the Ministry of Environment in Ontario at their Green Podium.  I was an opportunistic invite who happened to be in Toronto to speak at another conference.

Although not one of Ms. Clark’s recommendations, I often suggest that job-seekers consider creating a group on LinkedIn, or some other social media platform, tailored to a subject area and/or geographic region they know well.  Sharing articles with these groups can be an effective way to both get to know an existing network better, as well as expand your network as colleagues of colleagues are invited or request to join the group.

The article goes on to suggest that introverts

  • Understand when you’re at your best
  • Rate the likelihood of connecting, and
  • Calibrate your schedule

To me these can all be summed up by playing to your strengths.  Go to events where you are likely to be successful, at times when you are likely to be successful.  At large events, think about events within the event, which are going to be fruitful.  When I go to trade shows coupled with technical meetings, I find the trade show floor to be much more accommodating when most of the people are at technical presentations.  So I always pick a presentation time to skip on purpose and go to the trade show floor to meet vendors when they aren’t overwhelmed.  I also find a conference breakfast to be an easier time to meet people than lunch or dinner, so I always try to arrive early and sit with someone I don’t know.  These may or may not be good approaches for you.  The point is figure out the times and places that you can be successful, usually through experimentation.


Emotional Intelligence and “Fit”

If you get through the phone screen, or even the interview stage, but no further, you may have ask for honest feedback and received the statement that you weren’t the right “fit,” or you weren’t a good “fit.”  Liz Ryan says that “companies use it to say “no thanks” in a multitude of different situations” including (1) poor company performance resulting in elimination of the opening, (2) your salary expectations are too high, or (3) your personality is different from the organization culture and they fear it won’t mesh well.  Careerigniter describes “fit” as being push out for “arbitrary reasons.” Ian Welsh has suggested that hiring based on fit “makes little sense.”

In my opinion, most companies are pretty willing to make Liz’s first two statements openly, if not in writing, at least verbally.  I’ve been told twice that I was the last candidate to make it through but for purely financial reasons, companies have elected not to fill the position at this time.  Both times the US promptly went into a recession, so I can’t say it was a poor decision on their part.  I’ve also been told “this is top salary for the position – is that something you can accept?”  It wasn’t, and we saved ourselves a lot of time and effort by getting that info out early.

Unlike some of the other comments above, most career coaches agree with me that fit is real, although companies may describe it differently. They also see it as the interface between company culture and a candidate’s personality.  See Frederick County Workforce Services (“what they mean is that their personality doesn’t match the company, or possibly the supervisor the person would report to”); Dummies (“fit essentially refers to how an individual fits into a company’s culture”); Jaime Petkanics (“they want to assess how you will go about doing the job”).

Kyriaki Raouna says: “When employers tell you that you are not a good fit for the job, it has nothing to do with your qualifications and skills or how good you are for the job. It is simply used to explain how employers perceive you and what they think about your personality and cultural fit. So judging from the answers that you give in the job interview or – even what you post on social media, employers can get a pretty good idea of who you are, what you want, how long you are going to stay in the job and how happy you are going to be in it.”

While many of these coaches will also say that being rejected for fit is for the best, and you really shouldn’t try to change yourself to be a better fit, I tend to disagree.  We should all be alert to feedback that offers insight into ways we can improve ourselves.  If it wasn’t a fit, there is a reason it wasn’t a fit.  You may want to remain genuine to yourself, so if the reason it wasn’t a fit is you are a party animal and when they Googled you they saw that there’s drink named after you at a local bar, and you remain proud of that, just accept that their culture won’t work for you.

On the other hand, if you gave off a very negative vibe and seemed very cynical in the interview, and that’s not what you wanted to project, then you may have an opportunity to improve your emotional intelligence.  The article below talks about 12 competencies of emotional intelligence, at least one of which we can all improve.  When you get the “fit” response to feedback, don’t ignore it.  Look through these 12 and pick one to work on.

Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?

Emotional Intelligence Domains and Competencies

Assess, Plan, Prepare, Implement … Re-Assess

Anytime you find your self in an “un”employed situation – whether completely unemployed, underemployed, unhappily employed, or uncomfortably employed – you should start by taking some time to truly assess your situation.  This assessment should include not only where you are in your career, but how you got there, and where you want to go.  StartUpofYouIf you need help on figuring out where you want to go, I would recommend  picking up a copy of The Start Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.  I find this book to be a significant improvement over What Color is Your Parachute.  There are assessment tools and career coaches that can also help you assess your situation.

Once you have a sense of where you are in your career, and where you want to head, I recommend putting together a plan to market yourself.  You want to start by thinking longer term than your next position.  A career coach told me to think about the job you want to have after the next one to get myself in a forward thinking frame of mind.

I recommend you prepare a draft one-page marketing plan and share it with people you meet for informational networking.  Too often people put off networking until they are in a desperate situation.  As Harvey McKay explained in his book, you need to Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. Because the unemployed often feel pressure to quickly get a job, they can tend to push informational networking into simply asking for a job.  This can make the people you network with defensive.  There is a technique to Face-to-Face Job Search Networking using a one-page marketing plan that can relieve this pressure.

Once you’ve prepared your draft marketing plan, prepared your resume and cover letter templates, developed a tracking sheet system, ordered business cards, and organized a list of contacts with whom to network, you simply need to implement your job search plan.   LinkedIn is a great tool, especially for introverts, to aid in business professional networking, but it’s not the only tool.  In addition to other social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) you should access other sources of contacts, such as your Outlook, gmail, or yahoo address books.

To recap:Assess Plan Prepare Implement wo borders

  1. —Assess Yourself and Your Situation
  2. —Plan Your Marketing Strategy
  3. —Prepare Your Documents, Tools, Techniques
  4. —Implement Your Search


Periodically in your job search process you should take some time to Re-Assess your progress;  determine what is working for you and what isn’t.  Don’t be afraid to change your plan, your documents, or your techniques.  Just be deliberate about the changes you make, and be objective about how the changes help or don’t help your search.


“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
― George Bernard Shaw