Can introverts do well at “marketing” and “business” when they seem to shun blowing their own trumpets? Can they really succeed as solopreneur content marketers who need to “mingle” to maximize success? A common assumption, that isn’t at all true, is that only extroverted “people’s persons” are the best suited for marketing, and therefore best positioned for business success. But in fact, what is true is that a lot of introverted solopreneurs, who have chosen the path of online content marketing, have had stupendous successes with projecting their personal brands, building authority and leveraging their influence.
Further, not only are introvert solopreneurs some of the most successful people online, they bring certain skills to the table that extroverts don’t have or cannot cultivate as easily. And some of these exceptional skills of introvert solopreneurs include amazing networking skills! The only difference is that they have a style of networking that is not brash or loud or overt. It’s more quieter, but it’s also more intensely compelling and persuasive!
Why we must get rid of the old definitions of introversion and extroversion
The old perceptions of introverts and extroverts, and their business advantages or disadvantages, have all got to be thrown out of the nearest window. Psychologists and other personality-traits experts have loads of research now, to prove that both extroverts and introverts have their own sets of advantages in marketing and business – and the essential difference between them comes from where they get their energy from, and is not about their inhibitions.
Introverts are just those who have more energy for work when they are alone, versus extroverts who have more energy when they work along with others. And most people switch between introversion and extroversion all the time, so it’s ideal if you can decipher what activities you like doing alone, and what you like doing with others. It’s that simple to honor yourself and your preferences.
Many of the best entrepreneurs are, in fact, inclined more towards introversion. They make great entrepreneurs because they typically have a unique ability to focus for long periods of time, balance great listening skills with critical thinking, and have an aptitude for empowering others. The list of successful entrepreneurs and business minds who claim to be introverts is quite amazing – and includes Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, and even Warren Buffett.
Most astonishingly, Richard Branson also claims to be an introvert. He says that he had to fight hard to overcome his shyness. He also gives some great advice on overcoming being too introverted: “If you’re an introvert and find it difficult to communicate with strangers, then you have to practice, practice and practice – but practice being yourself. When you’re first starting out, no one expects you to be a commanding leader or a world-class orator. You simply need to convey a sense of passion for what you’re doing, and they’ll be hooked.”
In the online business world, and in content marketing especially, there are at least four areas where introverts can count their introversion as a distinct advantage …
1. Because introverts value their own space, they tend to naturally respect that of others. Online buyers, especially, want that distance from marketers … so introverts find it easy to let content marketing work, without wanting to speed up customers towards exhibiting a trust-level they don’t yet feel.
2. Introvert marketers tend to use creative solutions to many online business problems. As Albert Einstein once stated, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Thinking alone often allows creativity to blossom without self-consciousness – whereas, being in a crowd may stifle you from airing a non-conformist perspective.
3. Because introverts observe more, they’re liable to accrue a deeper understanding of customer behavior. They seem to intuitively know the right time to make an offer to customers, in a way that feels less obtrusive or aggressive … and therefore they often come out winners in online content marketing, where any form of pushing becomes counterproductive.
4. Introverts seem to have the ability to hunker down and get their day’s work finished. They are less prone to getting waylaid by distractions. They also seem to need less variety or excitement in work, from one day to another, so they seem ideally suited to content marketing where they need to keep up a steady, unwavering commitment to get their quota of content creation workload done, however repetitive and mundane it may seem.
Why brand building has nothing to do with beating the tom-tom – and introverts can score big
There is a very common misperception in the marketing world that brand-building requires shouting from the rooftops and being aggressive. In truth, brand building has very little to do with being loud, unless your brand is deliberately positioned as a “loud-talker” for strategic or competitive reasons. There are four strong essentials for brand-building, and as you’ll see below, none of them have anything to do with “projecting yourself vociferously”.
1. Your branding grows through visibility. Visibility is about being seen everywhere in a positive light. Do you need to be an extrovert to build visibility? Yes, if you’re doing very little for your visibility, you may think you have to shout louder to be heard. But if you’re an introvert entrepreneur you may believe in building visibility by regularly and incrementally extending reach, eminence and authority. You may aim for steady efforts to broaden and deepen the online places where you brand is seen. You may also aim for steady efforts to ensure your brand is always seen in a positive light. Brand visibility is not about loudspeakers or megaphones – it’s about ubiquity. You have to build “inspiring presence” and not “enforced projection”. You can be an introvert and succeed at all this without one single act of chest-beating!
2. Your branding grows through credibility. Credibility is about always living up to your word and not reneging. In any business, actions speak louder than words. So, as the experts say, let your work do the talking! To build your brand’s credibility you have be “as good as your word”. You have to exhibit caliber and character. When you promise something, you have to deliver. That’s also why, when you promise something, you have to be sure you can deliver. How often have we come across marketers who promise the moon and then fall short – and we have also seen those whom we initially don’t get “impressed by”, but who always surprise us with more than we thought we’d get, and with unexpectedly great quality! You can be an introvert and still have a brand with remarkable credibility, if you always under-promise and over-deliver, which you may be naturally good at doing.
3. Your branding grows through consistency. Consistency is about maintaining certain values despite the allure of diversions. Consistency sounds like a very powerful virtue to have – but in everyday life, it often translates into something less exciting. It’s about repetitive maintenance of certain standards. The more you have to be consistent, the less you have to allow fluctuations in excitement level to drag away your focus from sticking within certain red lines. Many extroverted people, for example, who crave some excitement factor in their lives every day, may find the actual tedium of maintaining consistency a tad boring. I am a blogger, and although the subjects I blog about may be different each day, I have to keep the same format, quality and tone and style to my blogs – to etch my particular brand in reader’s memory, and to stand by some norms. Introverts may be highly advantaged if they can get by with less excitement and more regimented lives. Consistency is easier for those who value discipline above drama.
4. Your branding grows through authenticity. Authenticity is about being true to yourself and valuing honesty. A great brand is not great because it’s perfect. A great brand is great when it’s authentic. Not being fake, just to make people fawn over your brand, is vital to a brand that wants to be a long-lived one. You cannot keep up fakeness for more than limited periods of time. It’s far easier being truthful, than it is to be fake. Try it. That’s probably why introverts, who don’t care too much about pomp and showmanship, who admit to their weak spots, and don’t fret about whether they are “lionized” or not, end up sounding more true and honest, and become more liked and trusted.
Why introverts make great business partners – and excel at networking and joint ventures
There are again three important reasons why introverts can make excellent business partners. You may at first think that introverts would not want to be in business partnerships with others, but some of the best business partnerships belie this myth. In fact, introverts do get into partnerships after much care and due diligence and then they stick by their accepted roles and responsibilities with a lot of perseverance. They make things work. They don’t discard partnerships after trivial disenchantment.
1. Introverts talk straight and to the point. There is nothing wishy-washy about them. Business partners like this straightforwardness. Since they have spent their whole lives avoiding peripheral talk, introverts have the innate discipline and the desire to always get to the heart of a matter without frilly build-ups. You won’t find them wasting time at meetings with a lot of pre-ambles, or long-winded explanations. In business and in communications, it’s a huge strategic advantage to have that crisp matter-of-fact style. Business partners of introverts seldom have problems that the introverts are wasting their or other people’s time.
2. Introverts build strong intense relationships, but also never cross the line. Business partners like that level of formality. Business friendships are different from personal friendships, but sadly many business friendships fail when partners cross the fine line between being official enough and getting too close to each other. When business partners also become friends over time, there still has to be a measure of formality between them if business decisions have to be taken from their heads and not get all meshed up with the hearts. A slight level of formality (along with cordiality) is also very beneficial when one business partner has to differ from the other on a substantial issue. If partners get too close, they may start getting “hurt” by each other’s tone in stating their differences. When an introvert is one of the partners, you can be sure the line between friendship and partnership will always be clear, maintained and honored.
3. Introverts will share the stage. They do not need to grab the limelight or the credit for a job well done. Business partners always feel like they are part of a team. God only knows, how crowded the business world is with people who crave to have the spotlight on themselves – and themselves alone – as often as they can. Haven’t we all come across those who jump at the first chance to take credit for a good job done, while also easily blaming others for failures. If you’ve ever seen a straight-gazed man on a stage declare that the trophy in his hands is not his alone, but a team-effort, chances are he is an introvert. His business partner must be among the luckiest people on earth because he knows his team-mate will never try to hog the stage. There is no insecurity in an introvert in the area of “going unrecognized”. This because the introvert needs no external validation. He knows what he is good at and he’s secure with that. So, when time comes to share a common prize, he knows what he has done to earn part of it, and what others have done to equally deserve it. He is not flattering his partner out of courtesy, either. He probably is seriously sure they both are a team, and none of them alone could have done it.
Why introverts succeed so remarkably on the social media – not what we expect, is it?
One area where I have consistently noticed introverts doing slightly better than extroverts is in the social media – much to my own surprise. I would have expected extroverts to score much more highly than extroverts with social engagement, but it seems that may not be the case.
One of the main reasons for this could be that introverts depend heavily on the social media for networking, because they are more comfortable networking at their own pace, and without too much personal physical exposure. Since they use the social media more, as their means to stay in contact with others, they may have become more adept at using it for serious business. Extroverts, on the other hand, may not be as “serious” about using the social media with an aim to exploit it for business. They may be taking it all a bit “easy”.
The social media returns whatever you put into it. If you use it casually, it returns casual results. If you use it for business, it returns business results. The strategies are different, though, when you use social media for business … because every update and every bit of engagement needs to justify the time and effort you expend, in terms of business results. Introverts may have learnt this game better.
On the flip side, social media has also helped a lot of introverts open up more. Many of my own introvert friends have told me that they don’t feel that level of hesitancy on the social media as they do at physical meetings, and that the safe measure of distance and anonymity that social media offers them, gives them enough ease to be more talkative than they would otherwise be. Engaging with social media, they say, also helps them build some trusted connections and have deeper conversations, even if they tend to spend relatively less time on the social media. Most of them seem to believe that the social media is not for idle talk, but if it can serve a definite purpose it’s worth joining a network or tribe.
In an informal survey I did of about 20 introvert solopreneurs on the social media (including myself!), here are some interesting things I discovered …
- Introverts like to set limitations on the time they spend on any particular social network. They are not comfortable spending unscheduled social time. They also do not seem to favor just browsing to fill empty time.
- When they are on a social network, they prefer one-to-one engagement, rather than group sessions like Twitter chats.
- They like to take some time to decide which conversations they want to join in – typically, they would spend about 5-10 minutes just listening silently to what’s going on, to decide when to move in, if at all.
- They seem to prefer participating in conversations related to projects at hand, rather than to discuss possible future trends or just to know “what’s going on in the world”. Their purpose on the social media is limited to their immediate topics of concern.
- If a social discussion is meandering they prefer to just walk away – and typically this includes the Q & A sessions at the end of webinars. If they’ve heard enough, they don’t feel the need to know more.
- They feel uncomfortable being in social spaces that invite vehement opinions for or against any topic. They don’t think such topics ever see a resolution – and they see it all as a waste of everyone’s time.
- In content marketing, they seldom are the ones to start Facebook Groups for their projects or have any sort of interactive member groups. They seem to prefer Direct Messages on Twitter, or emails best of all, which they can answer specific to a query or a person.
- For many of them, social media visits are usually “end-of-working-day” pursuits. It’s that “once-over” before shutting down the computer. It would never take away content creation time or actual work time.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Articles in our “Contented Solopreneur Guide 11: Building Your Success Attitude”:
- How enthusiasm can add zing to your solopreneur content marketing!
- How solopreneurs can build more trust using their three brand facets!
- Why solopreneurs must soar on their strengths and be future-faced!
- Content marketing needn’t be a time-devouring devil for solopreneurs!
- As a solopreneur, do you understand the magic of the “Persistence Effect”?
- Introvert solopreneurs may have the extra edge in succeeding online!