Let's face it, lots of HR pros are introverts. When I run my Myers-Briggs through the machine, I consistently come out as an ISTJ, but the interesting thing for me has always been that I'm borderline I (introvert) vs. E (extrovert) on that first letter. I've never come out as an E, but it's always been close.
As time has gone on, I've become more aware of how that I vs.E designation impacts how I view the world. Here's the crazy thing - being borderline I/E, I find myself dreading some group activities (which you would expect from an introvert), but not serious dread. Just the dread that makes me think it would be great to avoid it, but not enough to make me bail on the event or activity.
Then a funny thing happens. Once I get to the event in question, my batteries aren't drained by it, they're actually charged. That's where the borderline I vs.E comes into play - I'll dread it a bit as an "I", but I'm borderline "E", so I actually enjoy it once I'm involved. The event could be a phone call, an association meeting, anything that involves interaction with people.
Which brings me to the point of the post. If you're an Introvert, you have to get your paranoia in check. Let's say you're a deeper Introvert than I am. With that in mind, you loathe networking, presenting, etc. I get it because I've felt the twinge. The problem is that the world doesn't work like that. You've got to get involved in the professional community to which you belong, especially with this whole thing going global. If you don't, you won't make the cut from a career progression standpoint.
Being out there as a blogger over the past couple of years, I've come to grips with my Myers-Briggs. Here are my rules of things you have to do if you are a borderline (or extreme Introvert) to grow professionally and set yourself up for success moving forward:
1. Never eat alone - Damn, does that sound like a cliche', but it's true. Pick somebody and, even if it's once a week, break bread with someone from outside your company. You'll need the network.
2. Don't avoid callbacks. I know, they're painful. You don't have time to call back vendors. Do it anyway. Do it enough and there's probably a job offer down the road as a result.
3. Force yourself to get involved locally and nationally. Do you think the professional association you most likely should belong to is lame or not cool enough? Join, attend and help them raise the game. You need to stop whining about the limitations of the association and get involved. Find a web-based community and start to meet some folks nationally as well. The online version might be a good warmup to help you get prepared for the face-to-face stuff you dread.
That's my list. If you've read this far, you're likely an introvert. I feel your pain. Don't let it define you - train yourself to do the things that will grow your network, grow you professionally and perhaps, just perhaps, move your Myers-Brings "I vs. E" score closer to the middle over time.
PS - don't comment, because I'm dreading the interaction...