I have noticed a lot of talk over the last few years and especially over the past month or so about the power of introverts.
For most of us the standard line has been that business, especially hard core sales based business, is an extroverts game. Networking, Social Selling, even just walking into a prospect’s place of business for a scheduled meeting just seems to be easier for extroverts.
So what’s the introvert to do?
In the Summer Issue of Canadian Business the editors compiled some words of insight from five business leaders who self-identify as introverts and how they make it work for them. In a column call “Leadership Tips For Introverts” here is what they said.
When it comes to networking, less is more. Go only to those events that are inherently interesting to you. And get there early or on time. If you get there late, you will walk into a room full of loud people in conversation. Introverts do well when they have a purpose, so volunteer at events you want to attend. – Devora Zack, management consultant
I smile a lot and introduce myself to people while avoiding the thoughts of bolting. I also ask a lot of questions. Extroverts love to talk about themselves, and that makes it easier for me. – Karen Renaud, vice-president, Cambridge House International
We introverts have such a rich inner dialogue; we can forget that we haven’t shared our thoughts with others. It’s important to over-communicate in those situations. E-mail is usually efficient, but be wary of overusing it if you know that people have a deep emotional investment in the process or outcome. – Beth Buelow, coach and CEO of the Introvert Entrepreneur
These are all great tips and at one time or another I’ve used all of these techniques myself but here’s my own take. Personally I find extroverts exhausting. For every minute I spend with an extrovert, or doing extroverted things I need at least two minutes of solo time to recover.
When I was in high-school I joined the drama club for a short while and took acting classes. The most valuable lesson I learned in the one semester was how to create a back story for the character you were about to portray. So in order to help me in uncomfortable situations I created a character I call Ernest Chance. Ernest is a sincere (earnest) individual who is not afraid to take a chance and put himself out there. Ernest is my extroverted alter-ego. Whenever I go to a networking event or walk into a situation that calls for an extrovert I take a deep breath and become Ernest Chance.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fundamentally change who I am. My business card still says Lauren Sheil but in order to be out going and have enough courage to talk with total strangers I need to play this little game with myself in order to get the job done. I still find it tiring and when I’m done I put Ernest away and go take a nap. But by creating this character in my head I have been able to walk into rooms full of strangers and walk out a few hours later with a notebook overflowing with new leads and new ideas.
I’d like to hear what other introverts do when their work life calls for extroversion. Let us know, maybe we can learn a thing or two from one another.