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Rise of the introverts: Leverage your quiet influence

Is the rise of the quiet influencer the future face of business? Some may think the way to get things done is by being the loudest or the most charismatic, but these and other introverts have found success leading quietly: Tim Cook, Condoleezza Rice and Michael Dell. Now, more than ever, are we recognizing the need for those who can get things done in different ways? 

International speaker and executive coach Jennifer Kahnweiler says yes. Hear more from Jennifer Kahnweiler at the ALCTS President’s Program (an Auditorium Speaker Series event) at 10:30 a.m.on Monday, June 30,  in the Las Vegas Convention Center, room N249 during the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

In her new book, "Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference" (Berrett-Koehler, April 2013), Kahnweiler proves that introverts can be highly effective influencers when they use their natural strengths instead of trying to act like extroverts.  In a world where extroverts seem to rule and introverts may feel powerless, Kahnweiler says there is more than one way to have some sway, noting that even extroverts can learn a few things from their quiet co-workers. 

“People often think that a big, vibrant, personality is needed to succeed in the business world, but that simply is not true. It is often the quiet ones who have the loudest minds,” said Kahnweiler, who holds a doctorate in counseling and organizational development.

In "Quiet Influence," Kahnweiler offers a quiz readers can use to determine their “Quiet Influence Quotient” (QIQ), in other words, what introvert qualities they possess and what they can work on. She outlines six strengths common in introverts and shows how to use those strengths to challenge the status quo, provoke new ways of thinking, effect change and continuously inspire others to move forward.

The six strengths introverts can leverage to their advantage are:

1) Take quiet time: Introverts crave a period of solitude that provides them with a powerful source of creativity and self-awareness. Prioritize quiet time and take advantage of it by scheduling it in a calendar. Dim the lights, turn off the radio and reduce distractions from technology.

2) Carefully prepare: Introverts feel more comfortable and are able to anticipate objections with preparation. Do the research and prepare answers to foresee possible speed bumps.

3) Be attentive: Listening helps introverts establish rapport and mutual understanding. Slow down, get face-to-face, observe body language, ask questions and serve as a sounding board for others.

4) Focus the conversation: Introverts excel at the serious, purpose-driven, one-on-one interactions vital for winning people over. This can spark learning, provide encouragement to others, work through conflict and more. Sometimes taking it off the e-mail page makes all the difference.

5) Write it down: Introverts use this skill to influence others through deep, authentic, well-developed arguments. Writing helps clarify what’s important to them and can motivate others to action.

6) Purposefully use social media: Introverts naturally use social media in a thoughtful and more effective way. Social media has the power to develop and grow relationships, achieve visibility and mobilize people.  It also gives us the chance to teach and learn.

Jennifer Kahnweiler is an international speaker and executive coach whose clients include General Electric Co., AT&T Inc., the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NASA. Her first book, "The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength" (Berrett-Koehler, June 2009), has sold more than 20,000 copies and has been translated into multiple languages. Kahnweiler is a board certified coach, holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation awarded by the National Speakers Association and is actively involved in the Global Speakers Association.