Introverts in business aren’t always a great fit for traditional forms of marketing. Standing in a large, sweaty room full of people pushing business cards on you, and being expected to do the same? I’ve done it, hated it and got very little out of it. Certainly very little in the way of leads.
I did better with small events with a group of likeminded people who I could build real relationships with, learn from and create with. Often, they were the women-only events.
Once I had children, in-person networking events of any kind didn’t work for me. I knew I’d have to put more into online networking, social media and content creation. I’m a copywriter, so this shouldn’t have seemed like a challenge for me, right?
But it did feel like a challenge. It was a challenge. You’re supposed to be ‘visible’. You’re supposed to put yourself out there, relentlessly, to a limitless number of people online. As an introvert, that couldn’t possibly feel comfortable.
What if my friends saw things I posted?
What if my family did?
What if everyone was judging me, talking about me and laughing at me?
How introverts in business can get comfortable with visibility
What can you do as an introvert in business to be a fearless, confident content creator? In this article, I’ll talk about ways in which introverts are particularly well-suited to using content as a way of growing a business. While it might feel like we’re at a disadvantage, I don’t think we are.
Think about the two kinds of networking events I described. The big room full of sweaty palms and ill-fitting suits. And the cosy room full of contacts who have become friends and collaborators, not competitors.
In my world, online content creation felt like the first room at the beginning. But once I worked out how to create real relationships, it began to feel much more like the second. And it still does.
In this article, I’ll take you through the steps you can take, as an introvert woman growing a business, to feel entirely comfortable with content creation and visibility in a way that maybe you can’t imagine right now.
If you’re an introvert, here are 5 skills I bet you already have that you can use to build your business online.
- You care more about being respected than being liked
- You tend to think first, act later
- You’re really good at spending time alone reading and learning
- You’re good at building trust
- You’re good at reflection
You care more about being respected than being liked
One of the first books I ever read about the differences between introverts and extroverts was The Successful Self by psychologist Dorothy Rowe. She’s clear that: ‘Either we are “people persons’, who judge ourselves in terms of how others respond to us, or we are ‘what have I achieved today?’ people.”
That’s not, of course, to say that extroverts don’t care about achievement. It does mean, though, that extroverts are more likely to feel they haven’t achieved all they want to if they don’t think that people like them. And while many introverts also want to be liked, it’s not their driving force.
Writing content online is about building relationships, and to build those relationships effectively you need to be able to filter out those people who aren’t the ones you want to buy from you. You don’t just want anyone to be your next client – you want the right person to be your next client.
You know those long sales pages are so, well, long? Because they’re filtering out all the people who aren’t the right fit for the product or service they’re selling. If you’re selling, say, a £2k coaching programme, that’s going to be the vast majority of people. If you’re still interested at the end of several thousand words, you might just be the right fit.
It can be pretty scary to deliberately set out to disqualify most of the people you see as prospects. But as an introvert, you’re more likely to be able to say with clarity “These are the people I want, and I don’t mind putting off all the others. They’re not right for me”. That clarity earns you respect, and respect earns you clients.
You tend to think first, act later
Introverts naturally tend to think before they speak, act or write. Think back to the busy, sweaty, shouty networking event I described earlier.
Extroverts might do well at that kind of event, being happy to jump in and talk to anyone without needing to think too much first. Introverts are more likely to feel overwhelmed by the lack of space of time to get their thoughts together before they interact.
Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader says that introverts are usually “more reserved and calm, express their thoughts after reflection, are private at first and have a low key facial expression. They prefer small group or one-on-one discussions and are humble.”
Now, Kahnweiler is an extrovert, and her book has been criticised for being an extrovert’s perspective. I’m not so sure I agree with her on either ‘low key facial expression’ or ‘humble’. But in my experience, she is right about most of the rest.
What does this mean for content creation? If you’re an introvert, you’re probably more likely to think carefully about what you put out online before you hit publish.
You’re probably keen to share your knowledge in a way that provides real value to your audience and think hard about how best to do that.
You might find that talking about yourself or your business doesn’t come naturally, but when you do it, it’s in a way that is balanced, measured and grounded.
Taking your time means that you focus on quality and you keep the focus on your audience, not on you.
You’re really good at spending time alone reading and learning
As kids, introverts are often thought of as bookish, quiet and serious. While that might not cut it in the playground, it’s a big advantage in a knowledge-drenched world.
Anyone who’s ever tried to market a business online will know that there is a ton of stuff to read and learn. There are endless courses you can take, influencers you can read about and potential routes you can take.
It’s pretty headspin-inducing for anyone. But introverts are usually better placed to work through the maze of options, figure out what’s right for them and commit.
That’s not to say we always get it right. I’m sure there are plenty of introverts who have paid for courses and memberships that turned out not to be right for them. I know I have.
When we do find the right courses, coaches or memberships, us introverts are more likely to stay the distance.
The kid who stayed up reading under the covers with a torch turns into an adult who’ll be happy to sit down in the evening and plough through a load of course material. The world of online study and learning is both solo and self-driven – making it the introvert’s natural home.
American schools, from a culture that celebrates the extrovert, emphasise collaborative learning and group discussion. Asian schools, being part of a more introverted culture, emphasise independent study and quiet.
As an introvert in business, you’ll probably find it easier to engage in the kind of deep, thoughtful learning that allows you to become an expert. And, online, that kind of expert knowledge shines through and gets responded to.
You’re good at building trust
You’ve heard, of course, of the importance of ‘know, like and trust’. Becoming known is more a matter of consistency than anything, and equally easy (or hard) for both introverts and extroverts.
Being liked comes more naturally to extroverts. Building trust comes more naturally to introverts.
If you don’t feel the need to be liked or to impress everyone, you’ll be more authentic (an overused word, but it’s overused for a reason – it’s important).
Introverts in business tend to gravitate naturally to real engagement with their online followers, taking the time to read and respond thoughtfully. Because being respected is important, and because we take more time to think before jumping in, quality matters to us.
We all know (regardless of personality) about the value of thought leadership. The blogs and articles most of us share are those that speak with authority and expertise.
They’re the ones that really add value (another overused phrase, but again, for a reason). Self-promotional fluff, written in a hurry, simply isn’t heard above the online noise.
That’s not to say that extroverts only write self-promotional fluff. Of course, there are many outstanding, valuable articles written by extroverts.
It’s simply that an introvert is less likely to get caught up in self-promotion and more likely to take the time to think ‘what use is this to my audience? What value will they gain from it?’. That builds real, deep trust that is hard to shatter.
You’re good at reflection
Introverts are more prone to overthinking and, indeed, worry than extroverts. That fear of being visible, being seen, that I talked about earlier? That’s overthinking. Extroverts might have similar fears, but they’ll often overcome them more easily.
The flip side is that, if you can learn to turn overthinking into honest reflection, you’ll be in a great place to constantly refine, respond and improve.
Even the very best copywriters and content marketers will sometimes make the wrong call. Even with plenty of customer research and insight, messaging can sometimes be off or fail to resonate with the right people.
This will happen. As an introvert in business, the time you spend alone is your opportunity to refuel and reflect. To consider dispassionately where you might have gone wrong and how you can put it right.
It’s easy to disappear into a well of overthinking at those points. If you can find the grit to stay on the surface of that well, you’ll be able to identify what you didn’t get right and how you can change it next time. Getting it wrong doesn’t matter. It’s what you do after that counts.
A note for clarity
Nothing in this article is meant to be a generalisation, and none of it is meant to position introverts in business as superior beings.
If I were to write the same article from an extrovert perspective, I’d probably pick out many of the things I’ve identified as extrovert weaknesses as extrovert strengths.
Whatever our personality, our ability to succeed depends to a large extent on our ability to harness our natural strengths and work with our weaknesses.
And by the same token, not every introvert in business will identify with every single thing I’ve written here. You might feel there are glaring errors and things I’ve missed. Because, of course, there are more than just two types of personalities in the world.
But, I believe that identifying the broad groups of personality types that we belong to can help us analyse our own behaviour dispassionately. With that analysis comes the ability to work out how to do things better.
Want to meet other introvert women business owners?
You can in my Facebook group, the Introvert Women’s Remarkable Content Studio. There, you can share your content and get support every day to grow your business with your words.
First published on https://shoalcontent.com/