America’s business culture is not so friendly to introverts. People expect you to smooth the way to a deal with small talk, marketing experts warn that you can’t get a business off the ground without networking or cold calling, and business coaches tell you it’s important to conform to other people’s ideas of who’s likable.
Even so, after studying my own success strategies throughout nearly 30 years of self-employment and those of many introverted colleagues, I can say with confidence that it’s possible for introverts to attract business without a personality transplant.
First, introverts have numerous personality strengths that people in society value if you bring them out explicitly. Highest on the list is creativity – resourcefulness, original ideas and independent judgment.
Another important strength is good listening. In one survey of professional service firm clients, more than half of the respondents said they’d be more likely to hire someone who had better listening skills. Trustworthiness belongs on that list as well, along with attention to detail, two more common introvert strengths.
Second, there are lots and lots of effective marketing methods that are tailor made for the introverted personality. Some people say that the Internet has made it possible for introverts to interact comfortably with a lot of people without face-to-face interaction. However, that’s always been possible. For hundreds of years, we’ve had letter writing.
Think about Emily Dickinson – she found two literary mentors by writing letters to them. I got published for the first time – and the second and fifth and hundredth time – by writing a letter. My creativity really comes out in that setting, and that may be true for you, too.
Marketing methods recommended especially for introverts include publishing, publicity, speaking to groups (yes, introverts can excel in that arena), radio interviews, blogs and creating a content-rich web site.
And third, although you really have to hunt for this information, there are a lot of success models for introverts out there. I live outside of Northampton, Massachusetts, whose mayor in the early 20th century was Calvin Coolidge, so I’d been exposed to little snippets about Silent Cal, the 30th president of the United States, over the years.
When I was preparing my first presentation on introverts, I read up on Coolidge some more and was fascinated to find out that although he was considered taciturn to the point of eccentricity, he was also an accomplished public speaker who was one of the first U.S. presidents to use radio effectively and who was well-liked by constituents.
If you take the Myers-Briggs personality test and find out the four-letter type you are, you can them type your four letters into Google along with the word “famous” to find famous people who share your type.
For example, I’m INTJ, and among other famous INTJs is Ayn Rand. Even if I don’t agree with her politically, I can read her biography and learn from what she did with her talents and the pitfalls she experienced because of her weaknesses. I actually can find quite a number of interesting soulmates on the list of famous INTJs, such as the classical pianist Glenn Gould, Calvin Coolidge (no surprise), authors Lewis Caroll and Franz Kafka, the women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, news anchor Peter Jennings and possibly Katharine Hepburn.
Find success models, concentrate on marketing methods that feel comfortable for you and highlight the personal strengths that clients get from you and not from extroverted competitors. Nothing painful there, right? You certainly don’t need to become a loudmouth, introduce yourself to strangers in elevators or send personal revelations to thousands of “friends” on Twitter to succeed as a business owner.
A bookworm as a child, Marcia Yudkin grew up to discover she had a surprising talent for creative marketing. She’s the author of more than a dozen books, including 6 Steps to Free Publicity, now in its third edition, and Persuading People to Buy. She also mentors introverts so they discover their uniquely powerful branding and most comfortable marketing strategies.
To understand how your marketing methods and content can reflect your unique introvert preferences, get Marcia’s report, Marketing in Tune With Your Personality: A Guide for Introverts.
(c) 2011, Marcia Yudkin, All Rights Reserved – Reprinted with permission