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Advice for Introverts

Posted on January 15, 2009

Networking can be arduous for shy people, says Mary C. Blehar (bio).


An introvert has much more of a challenge in overcoming introversion in a group setting. I mean it's probably even stressful. But they may compensate by doing much more in depth research in some ways, more of the scientific focus, the solitary focus but they have to also, I think, for a successful career, it isn't always enough to do research or to stay within your own academic silo.

You have to get out of that academic silo and you have to reach out and make contacts and realize how valuable your contacts are for your career and how all situations when you're meeting people are opportunities to make an important career contact, and also to realize that you're always, people are always making judgments. It's part of the social psychological process.

And a very important point was made about that, that people do have limited time and they are somewhat guardians of their resources, so when you want to engage in a collaborative research project or a collaborative relationship of any type, let's say, you have to bring something to the table. So it's not enough that you want to collaborate with someone. What is it, people will implicitly or explicitly want to know what is the value added to them of the relationship. It's just kind of like an essential ingredient in any successful collaborative relationship, from your relationship with your partner to the relationship with your formal institutions.

If you want to form a collaboration, you have to suggest some ways in which your participation in a network or a collaborative relationship will enhance and benefit the individuals you want to collaborate with.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 Leadership Training Institute in Bethesda, MD.


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