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Contrary to common belief, not everyone who is successful in business is an extrovert. Just take a look at Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk - all of whom, you may be surprised to learn, are self-identified introverts.
Naturally, this challenges many of our common beliefs about what it takes to be successful.
Introverts as entrepreneurs
Most people assume that introverts are not the type to thrive in the fast-paced, risk-taking business world. This thinking, however, is changing.
A recent TED talk by Susan Cain challenges these assumptions and show the value that introverts can bring to the world and the workplace.
Having said that, there's a reason why people are so quick to extol the virtues of extroversion, especially in business.
For one thing, extroverts often have natural charisma and so find it easier to network and promote themselves than their thoughtful (and often shyer) introverted counterparts.
For another thing, the entrepreneurial lifestyle can be a chaotic one, requiring a fair amount of putting yourself 'out there' and risk-taking - activities that few introverts enjoy.
This can make marketing a challenge to us introverts. And since marketing is something that's essential to the health of any business, a natural question is: What's the solution?
My advice is... be choosy, both in terms of your time and where you put your energy.
What do I mean by that?
Tips for the introverted entrepreneurs
1. Pick your choice of platforms
If you're an introvert, then you probably aren't going to gravitate naturally towards extroverted ways of promoting yourself, like YouTube or speak at a conference. That's OK. Instead, play to your strengths. Opt for blogs and social media platforms that enable you to use the written word and images as a way to communicate your key message to your target audience.
Don't get caught up in the latest hype. If going live on Facebook or Instagram makes you feel nauseous, don't do it! Focus your marketing around activities you enjoy, not around someone else's marketing scheme.
2. Schedule your bravery
There will be times when you feel more confident and more able to deal with social interactions. Use these moments of bravery to make some phone calls, network in person, or create marketing material that can be scheduled to go out on a future date, or in regular bursts. This will help to compensate for those times when you really don't feel like putting yourself out there.
You can easily schedule blog posts and emails to go out at later dates. For social media, scheduling apps like Hootsuite can help, although most social platforms now offer the option of scheduling your posts or tweets at regular intervals on future dates. Use these to your advantage, and then get back to working quietly on your own, knowing that you have planned some necessary marketing to promote yourself.
3. Hire someone else to make some noise for you
If you find it difficult to promote yourself and blow your own horn, hire someone else to do it for you. As we've already established, extroverts tend to make better salesmen. So let them do what they do best - on your behalf.
4. Collaborate with people who complement you
There is nothing wrong with being an introvert. Introverts have strengths and weaknesses, and so do extroverts. Collaborating with someone who complements your traits is a great way to play to your strengths and fill in the gaps where you are weak.
5. Manage your energy level
Accept that you're going to face situations which zap your energy or make you uncomfortable. That's okay. If something drains you, or if you start to feel overwhelmed, it's time to stop and do something that recharges you. You can always return to whatever you were doing later. Don't feel that you have to stick it out at something just because someone else is doing it.
Entrepreneurial success is not reserved for extroverts
As an introvert, your natural ability to listen, observe, be sensitive to your clients' needs and be focused on the tasks at hand gives you the potential to be a great leader. The trick is to recognise your strengths and do what works for you.
Are you an introverted business owner? How have you adapted your marketing efforts to suit your personality traits? Please share below.