The No. 1 advantage Mark Zuckerberg and other introverts have over extroverts

Google career coach explains the secret strengths of introverts

Business often revolves around the personal connections people make with each other. But that doesn't mean you need to be a social butterfly to get ahead.

Take, for example, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who according to COO Sheryl Sandberg, is "shy" and "introverted." He built one of the most important and successful tech companies in the world.

In fact, introverts, or those who don't naturally seek out group interactions and social settings, may have a key advantage at work, according to former Google career coach Jenny Blake.

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Mangel Ngan | Getty Images

"Introverts have great one-on-one conversations," says Blake, who co-founded Google's career mentoring program.

And, she says, that's one of the most important soft skills to develop since the "deep relationships" that can result from resonant conversations "are the most memorable."

Sure, extroverts may stand out in a group and strike up conversations with more people, but introverts, with their preference for in-depth, one-on-one discussions, might make more of a lasting impression.

In short, "you don't have to be outgoing to make great connections at work," Blake says.

Source: Mark Hanauer

Not being outgoing isn't necessarily a negative thing in networking settings, either. According to Blake, it is more valuable to get the business card of one person you're really excited to speak to than it is to collect 30 cards from people you don't plan to follow up with.

Judy Robinett, author of "How to Be a Power Connector," agrees that introverts often get a boost from the fact that they are great listeners.

"Shy folks make better networkers because they know how to listen," she says.

You don't have to be outgoing to make great connections at work.
Jenny Blake
author of "Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One."

If you're an introvert, or even if you fall somewhere on the spectrum in between extroversion and introversion, Blake encourages you to embrace your own communication style.

"Be curious about other people," she says. "You don't need a strategic plan to get to know everyone."

"Invite people to activities you enjoy like going to a jazz club, taking a yoga class, walking outside," she says.

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