I have a confession: I am an introvert, and, to top it off, I am shy.
People can’t believe it: “But you work in communications, you go on camera, you have to be a people person to be in communications!” Not true. It’s my job to tell stories, deliver the message, and help connect the dots for people. It’s not my job to be the life of the party.
It’s dinged me on performance reviews: “Be more assertive!” It’s dinged me in relationship building: “Catherine is a bit aloof.” It’s dinged my own self confidence: “Why won’t any words come out of my mouth right now?” But it hasn’t dinged my ability to do my job.
This is how I have managed my introverted self in an extroverted world:
1. I take walks—a lot of them throughout the day. My energy gets zapped by people (classic description of an introvert), and the way I rejuvenate my energy is to walk alone. I have had fabulous brainstorms by myself on the path outside our office.
2. I grin and bear it. I have about a 45-minute window when I can fake it. If I have a networking event to go to and I really have to be on, I don’t schedule drinks with someone beforehand nor dinner afterward, because I know it will stress me out.
3. I order room service. When I travel, I make sure I have at least one night to myself. If I don’t, it wrecks me for the week.
4. I do coffee. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner meetings can be stressful: “What will we talk about before the food comes? What if they order dessert?”
5. I devour pop culture. I’m a pop culture junkie, and it’s my golden ticket for conversation starters. Who doesn’t want to talk about “Game of Thrones”? (No, really, who doesn’t?) Who doesn’t adore Jimmy Fallon, and who hasn’t heard the song, “Let it Go?”
6. I build relationships 1:1: I don’t do well in large groups, but I put a lot of time and energy into building and maintaining relationships one to one. I want to get to know people and truly value all my relationships. Once someone knows me and I know them, I relax. You might even say I become an extrovert.
And with that, I am going to go take a walk.
Catherine Fisher is part of the communications team at LinkedIn, where she is responsible for consumer PR, social media, and member education.