Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Silence is Golden, Outgoing is Platinum

Last month, Forbes published an article on author Susan Cain's new bookQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The book studies the evolution of American business from a culture of quiet integrity to a "culture of personality," noting that personality (heavily focused on how much of an introvert or extrovert a person is) plays a pivotal role in shaping a person's life and career threshold.

Cain contends that since the terms introvert and extrovert were coined in the 1920s, the American business culture has morphed into a paradise for extroverts, favoring the loud and outspoken personalities over the more silent and reserved ones. While it's led to more charismatic leadership personalities, she says that stacking a company with extroverts doesn't necessarily yield better results.

I can't contest this theory since I haven't read any studies that inspect the performance of an office that balances the two personality types vs. an office that favors just one, however, it makes sense why an extrovert personality would prevail over an introvert one.

One of the biggest components for business success is the ability to develop relationships with other people. While being an introvert by no means makes someone socially inept, someone with an outgoing personality is typically more skilled at striking up conversations that foster deeper business relationships at a faster rate.

Taking a step back from actual business application, a bubbly personality during an interview makes the interview run much more fluidly and can resonate much deeper with the interviewers. In an economy like today's where there are more qualified candidates than jobs, how well the candidate's personality meshes with the hiring team's is a deciding factor in determining which candidate gets the job.

Even before earning an interview, the ability to network is paramount. Not being afraid to say hello to someone - whether it be in person or via LinkedIn or Twitter - is a great way to get a foot in the door and your resume to the top of the stack. It's always easier to get in at a company when you know someone. And for those unafraid to find a way to get to know someone, there will be many more interviewing opportunities.

For example, I recently attended a networking event where everyone was asked to stand up and introduce themselves. One girl stood, said she was still job hunting, but then later on spent the entire night huddled in a corner with the friend she came with. Perhaps she is working hard at submitting applications, but she's walking during the most important laps of the race: meeting people and building connections.

When I first graduated, I didn't get it. I networked, but not with the fervor and focus I had to apply in 2011. I moved twice in that year, and it was only because I wasn't afraid to meet new people, ask questions, have conversations, let people get to know me that I was able to secure a job both times. I didn't have any preexisting connections - I made my own.

Cain's book purports that silence is golden, and that maybe that is true. But if silence is golden, then loquaciousness must be platinum, because silence certainly didn't get me to where I am today.


Allison Altdoerffer (Ally Oop) said...

This post was originally published yesterday, but somehow disappeared a couple hours after being published. I apologize for any broken links - I'm looking into what happened!

Anonymous said...

One does have to reach out these days, Introverts can do this as well as extraverts - each has his special charm, and depending on the personality of interviewer, one will prevail, And it's not always the extrovert, I was an introverted interviewee when I was younger, and I more often than not was offered the job. As long as you are articulate and obviously intelligent and knowledgeable about their company, you should do ok. You don't have to dance a jig. A little bit of dignity goes a long way these days.

Allison Altdoerffer (Ally Oop) said...

You're right - being an introvert doesn't make you a recluse any many than being an extrovert makes you obnoxious. Thanks for commenting!