Many women I coach have said to me I can’t self-promote because I’m an introvert. I don’t know how to build relationships within the workplace and therefore it’s challenging for me to get the visibility I need to advance.

My radio interview with Jennifer Kahnweiler last week was an eye-opener. Jennifer is the author of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference and an expert on introverts in the workplace.  Our discussion focused on leveraging the strengths of introverts to build influence and strong relationships.

Introverts have, in reality, many of the skills necessary to build strong relationships. They listen and observe well and this is a critical component of effective communication. Often this is missing with extroverts who are busy talking and not paying attention to their audience.

The best way to build influence with others is to understand what they want and need. You need to understand what value you contribute but also what is important to the other person. Otherwise, whatever you say could land on deaf ears. No matter how great your message, it will not be well received.

Where to start? Once you identify people across your organization with whom you want to build relationships, do your research. Observe them. Listen to them. What do you know about them? This knowledge helps you to communicate effectively.

This is an exercise that I often do with my clients. Ask yourself these questions about the person:

  1. How do they communicate? Are they direct? Do they use phone, email, in person meetings?
  2. What type of responses resonate with them? Are they willing to listen? Are they results oriented and just want to hear the bottom line?
  3. What is their style? Are they passive, passive aggressive, aggressive, assertive?
  4.  Are they an introvert? Extrovert?
  5. What is their relationship to their work? Is it ego-driven? Team oriented?
  6. What are their personal interests? Family? Sports? Volunteer activity?
  7. What type of people do they seem to like? How do they relate to them?
  8. What seems to frustrate them or give them anxiety?
  9. What seems to make them happy?
  10. What is your current relationship?

Taking the time to use the more “introverted” skills of observing and listening before jumping in can help you better position yourself with others. Once you get the answers to the above questions, you have enough information to create powerful communication and relationships.