I’ve often been complimented on my ability to be fearless. No, I’ve never skydived from a plane or bungee-jumped from a bridge, but I have taken chances and risks in my life that friends told me that they’d never take. Most surprising was that I’d do these things given my natural introverted personality. However, in my early years, I fought my introversion as hard as I could, feeling that those who acted in extroverted ways got more rewards. I continuously challenged myself and my introversion.
I ran for Student Government President in college against 3 fraternity guys, despite the advisor for one of the student groups to which I belonged telling my friends that I’d never win because I was too quiet. (I won the election). I moved halfway across the country to a small town in Massachusetts where I didn’t know a soul to take my first job out of graduate school. (I was promoted after two years). I quit my job 7 years later due to extreme burnout without having another job lined up (complete financial disaster). I had to take on the Massachusetts National Guard in the press when they threatened to evict the Youth Center, where I was Executive Director, from the building we shared (we were evicted but were offered a rent-free home from the town government because of the press coverage). I asked my then-husband for a divorce and moved halfway across the country to live with my mother again so I could start my own business with nary a client in sight and no possibility of local clients. (I’ve been self-employed now since 1999 using Internet marketing strategies I tweaked for my introverted personality to get clients from all over the world).
Was I shaking in my shoes as I made some of these choices or found myself in some of these situations? You bet! I learned much from the experiences, and quite frankly, hope to never ever repeat some of these experiences ever again. Some of these decisions I made were somewhat reckless and foolhardy (quitting my job), while others required me to step up to the plate and be someone I’m not necessarily comfortable being. It seems that I’ve often found myself placed in situations not ideally suited for the introvert.
What I have learned from these experiences is that there are three little-discussed traits that separate successful introverted entrepreneurs from those who aren’t successful.
First, you’ve got to be determined and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. In essence, you’ve got to want “it” more than anything in the world (define “it” in whatever way works for you). Sheer determination will take you far, but without the second ingredient to success, you won’t be able to go all the way.
The second secret to introvert marketing success is this: You’ve got to be willing to step outside your comfort zone for short periods of time to promote yourself and your business. If you’re not willing to toot your own horn, no one will do that for you — and that’s a fact. That means you have to be willing to go and deliver a presentation to a room of 200 people when you’d rather be home reading a book. That means that you have to open yourself to sharing your vulnerability with prospective clients to begin the like, know and trust journey with them, when the last thing you want to talk about is yourself. That means you have to learn to tell clients, prospects, and others that you’re the best at whatever it is you do, even though you’d rather be unobtrusively taking care of the details in the background.
Don’t confuse lack of self-confidence with introversion. Even those with the most self-confidence have their moments (hours or days) of self-doubt, but they manage to work through that with the help of a good friend or colleague, or just by giving themselves a pep talk. For example, you may attribute your lack of willingness to own your expertise in your industry to introversion. You believe this unwillingness is due to the fact that you don’t like to talk about yourself. In reality, it may be due to the fact that you don’t yet feel confident to claim your authority because you feel like a fraud.
You hesitate to claim your power because you think it’s only a matter of time before it’s discovered that you don’t really have the intelligence and experience that you think you do and that your success is due to dumb luck on your part. I’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. My remedy? Fake it ’till you make it. Even though I may have absolutely no idea about how to do something, I know that I have a broad set of skills from which I can draw. I’m confident that I can more than likely determine what I need to do based on past experience and apply that knowledge to the current experience.
It has taken me awhile to develop this level of self-confidence in my skill set. I had to make myself say, “I can do that!” when I didn’t really know how to do something. My confidence in my skills grew as forced myself to “fake it ’till I made it” over and over again without failing.
Yes, you can choose to remain true to to your introverted tendencies, and some of those will actually work in your favor for your marketing. However, at some point, you’re going to find it necessary to try on your extrovert suit. Don’t set yourself up for failure by telling yourself you can’t possibly do something because you’re an introvert. If you say “no,” you are letting your introversion serve as an convenient excuse, rather than dealing with your fear.
Even the most introverted of us can act as extroverts when needed. Granted, it takes alot of energy to do so and you need to build in recharging time, but in many cases you can control the situation to make it a fairly painless process. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone regularly and see what a difference it makes to your marketing efforts.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.