An introvert is someone who needs to recharge their energy alone rather than with other people. An extrovert is someone who gains energy being with other people and loses energy being alone. These definitions come from Carl Jung, whose work formed the basis for the Myers-Briggs personality test. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re an introvert, I encourage you to take that test.
If you do know you’re an introvert, you may believe you’re at a huge disadvantage when it comes to marketing. Many experts define the “shoulds” of marketing in such a way that introverts seem to need a personality transplant in order to do the outreach needed to get their business known. At the same time, much of the stigma attached to being an introvert in business for oneself comes from misconceptions about introverts, and that’s what I’ll be tackling in this article.
Watch out for these three myths that are harmful to a lot of introverts when it comes to marketing.
Myth #1: Introverts are shy and don’t like to be around other people. True, introverts can also be shy, but not all shy people are introverts. These are two different phenomena. Shy people wish they were better at being around other people and want to be around other people. Introverts who understand themselves are content to be by themselves. Shy people are the ones who wish they were invited to the party, wish desperately to be invited to dance or talk but hold back. Introverts are often not interested in going to the party to begin with.
The harmfulness of this myth comes about when you think that because you enjoy being by yourself, you’re shy and therefore socially incompetent, and then you convince yourself that you shouldn’t pursue any form of marketing that involves social contact. Keep reading to learn more about why that’s wrong.
Myth #2 is related to #1: Introverts have poor social skills and poor relationships. In fact, introverts can be very good at getting along with people. They may just have a different style of getting along with people. Instead of using small talk as all-purpose social grease, they may be better at having quiet, meaningful conversations. Introverts tend to relate better one person at a time than to a group of people. They can be very good salespeople because they tend to listen well and be interested in getting at what matters instead of more superficial things. They may have a smaller circle of friends and clients but have more intense, loyal relationships with people who matter to them.
In business, this myth is damaging to introverts because it may get them to discount the less obvious social skills they have. They may therefore put someone in charge of sales and marketing who seems to have the right personality but doesn’t have the ability to get down to brass tacks and nail the sale. That’s exactly what happened to me in an ill-fated business partnership early in my career. It took me nearly two years to figure out that I, the back-room person, was actually much better at marketing than my front-room partner who could talk up a storm but not much else.
Myth #3 is that introverts lack leadership ability. They’re not rah-rah kinds of leaders, but they can certainly inspire the troops and keep followers committed to the right path. Again, their leadership style may be different. Introverted CEOs include Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Andrea Jung of Avon, Vic Conant of Nightingale Conant and many others, by one estimate about 40 percent of CEOs.
Yet in an informal survey on the job site TheLadders.com, 65 percent said introversion is an impediment to climbing the corporate ladder. That’s a matter of perception, not reality. Introverted leaders may not be the life of the company party, but they may have vision that gets broad buy-in, integrity that earns respect, smarts that run rings around the competition, discipline that gets things done and marketing savvy that attracts no end of customers.
Socrates said it best: Know yourself. Use that knowledge to pursue success regardless of whether or not other people think you have the right stuff!
Copyright ?? 2010 Marcia Yudkin
— 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 learn more about the strengths and preferences of introverts, download her free Marketing for Introverts audio manifesto: http://www.yudkin.com/introverts.htm