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The introvert’s guide to excelling in meetings

 

By Laura McLouglin 

Though wary of the limelight, introverts have never been so widely acknowledged as they are now. Since Susan Cain first brought the strengths and advantages of introversion in a noisy world with her bestselling book and viral Ted Talk in 2012, there have been countless studies into how this section of our population works.

Despite this, few industries truly value the introvert. Introverted CEOs may be statistically more successful, but are greatly underrepresented in leadership positions. And while introverted professionals may be equally or more skilled to their extroverted colleagues, it is the extroverts who consistently earn more.  Even the way the modern office works – open plan designs, frequent group brainstorming – makes it difficult for more reserved, thoughtful individuals to thrive.

This makes it especially important for introverts to be aware of their weaknesses, and turn them to strengths during these uncomfortable situations. Sitting out should be an option, regardless of how the playing field is tilted.

We’ve got five go-to tips for making sure that your introverted self is well-prepared for those situations when you may find yourself feeling a bit stretched as an introvert.

  1. Prepare

Introverts work best when they have had time to process their thoughts. That means that when colleagues are passing half-formed ideas back and forth across the meeting room table with ease, you may find that you are unusually quiet.

Combat this problem by taking the time to plan ahead.

Before any meeting, use a notebook to outline what you want to achieve during your conversation. This can be as in depth as deciding on a solution for a long term problem, or as brief as remembering to ask a particular question. You may want to also pre-empt how your colleagues will reply, and think of answers to those imagined questions, too.

Jot it all down, with any research or key figures you may want to call upon, and then keep your notebook close during the meeting, too. This will help to keep you focused, and to prompt you to contribute, and to feel more confident in doing so.

  1. Speak first

The beginning of a meeting can often be the best moment to share.

With the rest of your team still getting settled and warming up their brains, it’s unlikely you will have to fight to get a word in or worry about being interrupted, and you will have also pointed the conversation in a direction you have already prepared for. Then, when additional comments and questions are thrown into the mix, you will have already processed your thoughts on the topic at hand, and you’ll be able to answer more readily.

Speaking first, also, allows you to reflect more during the remainder of the meeting, as you will have made your mark with your opening words.

  1. Ask questions instead of making statements

If you feel that direct statements and comments are too confrontational, you might consider getting your point across in a softer manner. Try posing your idea as a question instead, such as:

Have we already thought about extending our Christmas promotions?

Does anyone else think that the new design might be too off-brand?

It may not be the most direct way of making sure your voice is heard, but if it means that you speak up instead of staying silent, it’s a tactic worth considering.

  1. Use a notebook

We’ve already touched on how you might use your notebook to prepare for a meeting, but it’s also worth having throughout a meeting. Instead of becoming frazzled with the quick conversation, channel your energy by jotting down the ideas and thoughts you hear from your colleagues. Many of us process information better when we are writing by hand, and slowing down the situation should help your introverted mind, too.

As an introvert, it can be difficult to do your best thinking in these types of loud or stimulating situations, but writing is said to help us focus better. This means less time being distracted and overwhelmed, and more time putting your mind to the task at hand.

Even if you do not get your point across this time, using a notebook means that you have the benefit of having a record of thoughts to review before your next meeting and make a point of voicing them early on.

  1. Be reflective

Introverts are known for their thoughtfulness and keen reflective abilities, so bring that strength to the meeting room. As ideas are tossed out and different players offer their own take on the subject at hand, bring the conversation together, or better yet, pick out the elements you can see are missing.

Do you think we could bring those two solutions together?

We’ve talked a lot about our Facebook pages, but have we considered what’s happening on our Instagram?

I think we can all agree the limited budget is an issue, but what can we do about it?

When it comes to the workplace, forget the idea that introversion is a weakness. Rather, allow yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone and influence the meeting room in a way which is uniquely you, introversion included. After all, big voices aren’t always the right voices, and the quieter ones are no less essential to the betterment of a company.

 

Laura McLoughlin is a self-confessed introvert, commonly mistaken for an extrovert. Having worked as a children’s entertainer, face painter, web editor and PR, she can understand the confusion. She now writes for My Own Stationery.

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6 Traits That Show Leadership Potential

Being a team player is a common leadership trait

Being a team player is a trait of successful leaders

By Beth Leslie

Power. Prestige. A paycheque to make your head spin.

There are plenty of reasons many of us dream of becoming a leader in our field. But when we’re stuck way down the career ladder as the office dogsbody, that dream can seem impossible to achieve. After all, when your work is mostly menial or low-level, you don’t have any opportunity to demonstrate to your bosses that you would be a kick-ass leader, right?

Wrong. In reality, you don’t have to manage anybody or anything in order to dazzle your company with your leadership potential. That’s because all great leaders share some common traits which even the lowliest intern can cultivate and display.

Creativity

Great leadership is synonymous with innovation. Simply overseeing the status quo won’t cut it; good leaders should be constantly advocating for and implementing new strategies. That’s why having a creative mindset is so important: it confers the ability to think outside the box and see potential in new possibilities.

Junior employees can prove their creativity credentials by constantly critiquing their own work. Think about your daily tasks. What works? What doesn’t? How could you do things differently? What effect would a different way of doing things have?

Be mindful, however, that your critiquing doesn’t stray into outright criticism of your company’s current procedures. Share your ideas with your manager as a discussion point on which you want to solicit their advice, not a diatribe of everything wrong with the way your colleagues currently do their job.

Dedication

Success is rarely easy. Becoming a respected and venerated leader requires a lot of hard work, particularly when it comes to hard-slog tasks that are boring but essential to a project’s success. Plugging away at the start of your career doesn’t just help you cultivate the sort of habits that will be crucial in higher positions, it also builds you a reputation for diligence and conscientious.

This reputation is your key to higher positions. Colleagues and managers who notice your grafting are likely to give you glowing references. A company who sees you excel at your current tasks will feel confident about giving you more responsibility.

Confidence

Leaders have to be able to inspire others and carry a room. They have to know how to get people to invest – emotionally and financially – in their projects. Part of this comes from competence. But a great deal of it also comes from confidence. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anybody else believe in you?

Think about the ways you could project confidence in your current role. Do you speak up in meetings and team projects? Can you communicate clearly and articulately? Can you make and stick with decisions when called for? Are you able to throw yourself into a new task and face any challenges head-on?

If you’re currently more of the shy and retiring type, there are plenty of online and offline resources to help you find your voice. If you’re already comfortable pushing yourself forward, just be careful that you know the difference between projecting confidence and projecting arrogance. Confidence is not about assuming you know better than everyone else.

Self-Awareness

Have you ever had a boss who insisted everything they did was wonderful, all while the company was crashing down around their ears? If so, you’ll understand why self-awareness is one of the most important traits a leader can have.

Self-awareness is a form of emotional intelligence. It’s about being aware of your own biases and emotions, in order to analyse and control them. Make it a point of principle to be constantly evaluating yourself – and regularly ask friends, colleagues and managers to evaluate you too, to see if your internal assessment is on track.

Think about where your weaknesses lie, and how you can best combat or overcome them. At the same time, think about your strengths. Where can you shine? Where would it be most productive to concentrate your talents?

Accountability

Bad leaders blame everyone but themselves. Good leaders evaluate mistakes fairly and honestly, only use criticism in a way that is constructive, and understand that as the leader of the project the buck ultimately stops with them.

As a junior employee, accountability is equally important. When things go wrong, switch your focus from pointing fingers to finding solutions. At the same time, be quick and willing to own up to your own slip-ups and shortcomings. It’s not about self-flagellation – we all make mistakes – but establishing a reputation for honesty and integrity.

Hold up your hands to the problem, fix it, then move on.

Team Player

If you think leadership is about shining a spotlight on your own achievements, you’ve got it wrong. Great leaders are venerated by other people, sure, but they themselves devote most of their attention to valuing and promoting their subordinates and team-mates.

Leaders take time to communicate and empathize with other people because they understand that that is how you motivate teams into producing great results.

So the next time you have the opportunity to hog the limelight, considering making some room for the people who helped you to your success. Giving praise where it’s due isn’t just a way to make your co-workers like you – it also encourages your managers to think that a person who is so great at working in teams should be given the opportunity to lead them.

 

 

Beth Leslie is a career and lifestyle writer. She is also the editor of the Inspiring Interns blog, which gives graduate careers advice to career starters.

10 Innovative Tips to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

A strong LinkedIn profile will get you noticed

A strong LinkedIn profile will get you noticed

By Abhyank Srinet

LinkedIn is a great platform for personal branding and a powerful tool for recruiters. Over 450 million professionals use it for job search, networking, lead generation and more. This can also be a great channel to grab that job you have been dreaming about. Being aware of some tips and tricks will help your job search.

  1. ACCEPT REQUESTS FROM STRANGERS TOO

LinkedIn after all is a professional social network. The more connections, the higher the chances you have of developing stronger relationships with people from your industry. With every acceptance, there is a ripple effect and you could be just one or two degree of connections away from your life career changing job. By not adding a stranger on LinkedIn, you are stopping the possibility of its happening. In the digital world, accepting requests from strangers will not only help you break geographical barriers, but also open up new opportunities. Vast network comes with varied skills and expertise. This is could be a great way to share, expand and develop your skillset.

Of course, there are a few things one should always check. For example, their network connections should be decent, profile photo, and genuine recommendations. As long as the request fills those key requirements, you should be safe to accept the invitation.

  1. KNOW YOUR WORTH USING LinkedIn SALARY

To help professionals worldwide, LinkedIn has a feature to view salary information which would help make better career decisions and optimize your earning potential. This feature is available to all site users, but the ones who are premium members have an option not to share their salary details.

Knowing how much your fellow colleagues from the same industry are being paid will paint a clearer picture of whether your salary needs to be negotiated further. The filter function will help you sort the information based on location, years of experience, education qualifications and so on. With this you can get answers to questions such as which city pays the highest, or which company has a better remuneration for your qualifications.

  1. PERSONALIZE YOUR PROFILE URL

A personalized URL gives a sense of familiarity. It makes it easier to remember whose profile you have viewed. It also enhances your personal brand and makes it easier to share the link in email signatures and your resume.

In this ever-competitive job market, one needs to have an eye for detail. So, it’s time to remove the gibberish towards the end and personalize your url for a professional outlook.

  1. SHOWCASE YOUR ATTRIBUTES

LinkedIn goes beyond being a prospecting and recruiting tool. It can also be an incredible inbound marketing tool. Just by adding skills, one can get 13x more views. Listing your skills will help recruiters understand why you could be the best fit for a certain job. You can use the Skills section to showcase your skill set.

Endorsement is another great feature LinkedIn has to offer where your recruiters can see how your connections see your attributes and can vouch for you. As recruiters have no way of knowing how good you are, multiple endorsements will help you gain their trust.

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS ARE A GREAT TOOL

“When you say something about yourself it’s bragging; when someone else say something about you, it’s proof!”

Recommendations is a feature that could influence a recruiter’s decision-making process. Most recruiters want to know see if your peers and bosses agree with what you’ve said about your work. They are interested in knowing who you are. They want to get a sense of what it would be like to work with you. This can also positively affect your search rankings in LinkedIn and chances of grabbing that job.

  1. WRITE A STUNNING SUMMARY

A great LinkedIn summary is essential. It provides your professional essence to readers, and if it intrigues them, they will keep reading. It sums up your professional history, and qualifications, tells the reader what you looking for in your career. Mention what skills you possess that will add value to others. Also mention what kind of work you are involved in, be it projects, professional achievements, or soft skills. This will help people a get multi-dimensional view of you.

Add appropriate words that recruiters from your industry can relate to. This, if written well, will give you an extra edge over others. Also remember only the first 220 characters are visible at once. So, the more robust your summary, the more you will get noticed.

  1. A PROFESSIONAL PHOTO FOR A PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Your profile picture is one of the most important elements of your profile. It is likely to get your profile viewed 14 times more by others and help recruiters recognize you when they meet you in person. As for a job seeking candidate, this could be a great chance for you to make a good impression. Key to this is a professional photograph. It could go a long way in creating a good impression.

Here are some important pointers to keep in mind, before uploading a photo.

  • Your photo should resemble the way you look.
  • Around 60% of the picture should contain only the face. Your neck and a little of your shoulders should be seen.
  • A formal dress code is essential for a corporate role.
  • Be picky with the background. A bright colour for the background of the profile picture like red or orange works well.

Overall it should be professional. Also, make sure it’s only you in the photo, and does not include any ancillaries such as your pets, your parents and so on.

You have only 100 milliseconds to form an impression through it. So be sure that your picture invokes a feeling of trust and credibility.

  1. PERSONALIZE YOUR REQUESTS

“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Another blunder people make is not personalizing request messages on LinkedIn. This can severely affect the number of LinkedIn connections you’ll be able to make. Those 300 characters can have a huge impact in your career and it’s not worth taking this chance.

Use this opportunity to say something relevant and build a strong relationship. If you are connecting with someone who you don’t know well, use this opportunity to remind them how you met or know them. Introducing yourself or just adding the context of your relationship leads to a stronger connection and better work relationships. This can go a long way in creating a stronger network and a great rapport with your connections.

  1. CHECK WHO’S VIEWED YOUR PROFILE

This feature shows in the last 90 days, who has viewed your profile. LinkedIn allows only up to 100 views a day, so use it wisely. When someone has viewed your profile, you will be added to that person’s ‘Who’s viewed your profile?’ list. This is a great a way to show someone that you’re interested to connect with them. This is one of the best ways to grab attention of recruiters during the job search process.

This way the recruiter has a higher chance of becoming familiar with your name and while shortlisting profiles, this can buy you extra attention for your application.

  1. POWER OF STATUS UPDATES

Status gives you the power to be remembered by your connections and to stand out from others and get noticed by recruiters looking for people like you. Using the status update, you can really accelerate your job search. Due to its positioning on a profile, a recruiter may read the status even before reading the summary.

A good status update will demonstrate your personality and show a recruiter how motivated and engaged you are towards your career. Considering, a single status update can occupy up to 80% of the feed screen this could be highly influential. The secret sauce of a good status is in sharing updates that appeal to your network and potential employers.

 

Following the above tips will definitely help you boost your LinkedIn profile a few notches higher. If you need some more hacks to polish your LinkedIn profile further, visit ‘Top 33 Linkedin Profile Tips for Job Seekers In 2017’ to check out an in depth checklist, following which your LinkedIn profile would be ready to shine!

 

Good Luck!

 

Abhyank Srinet is the founder of MIM-Essay. He is a passionate Digital Marketer, Business Developer and Entrepreneur and lives in Paris, France.

 

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