What should I do about being an introvert
Many business owners, once they open up, admit to being an introvert. This admission is normally accompanied by statements that makes it seem as if being introverted is a bad thing and that they’re ashamed of it! It often gets linked to lacking self-confidence and goes with a statement to the effect that because they’re an introvert they can’t get out there and develop the business they would like.
This article is to say, “bu****it”. Here are 7 strategies to help deal with being an introvert while running your business.
Being an introvert is no barrier to running your own successful business. Many people running great firms are introverts. Yes, even the ones that you see in front of an audience drumming up work! They’ve learned habits to deal with the things they need to do, and also learned habits of recovering afterwards.
Growing your business does not mean you have to be an extrovert!
What is an introvert?
Most people consider the difference between introverts and extroverts to be about shy versus “loving the limelight”. Shyness, self-confidence and introversion are different.
Introverts typically need time alone to “recharge their batteries”; their energy is drained by being around other people. An extrovert would probably start climbing the walls if they spent a day at home reflecting and thinking, but for many introverts “me time” is necessary and empowering. An extrovert gains energy by being around others.
When I first heard this many years ago it was at odds to everything I’d ever thought– but it made sense.
I love being at the front of a room and presenting, I love large groups, I enjoy networking. But, after while I start to feel really, really tired. I get through the meeting by finding some space to be alone for a few minutes. When I realised that this was no bad thing, I was a lot happier and realised that I wasn’t odd!
What do you do to restore your energy?
Wanting or needing to spend time on your own.
Being an introvert and wanting to be alone, is probably just a sign you need to regain the energy you expend when you’re surrounded by people, or you want to be with your own thoughts. Even when I’m with very close friends, I can’t be introspective and at times can feel “suffocated.” At a conference I regularly need to walk around the block or “get some fresh air”.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with others. You can still participate in, lead and enjoy conversations, even though you may prefer to talk about ideas rather than what you consider small talk.
7 ways to improve your business, if you’re an introvert
- Self-awareness. Realise that being introverted is not a problem, it’s simply what is. You can still enjoy conversation and have many strengths that others lack.
- Manage your energy. If you know that you have a couple of days with lots of people, arrange a day either side when you can regain your energy. Perhaps a day in the office quietly working on tax returns, or a day working from home reviewing performance (great thing to do anyway).
- Create your own networking strategy. Introverts tend to not really enjoy small talk, it may even make them anxious. Manage the time you spend with people when networking and manage the people you spend time with. With some people you can easily move away from small talk, with others you need to move away! Download our guide to networking strategies
- Don’t avoid opportunities. If you’re invited to present, or something you normally avoid “because you’re an introvert” – reconsider. Consider managing energy levels, then be honest with yourself about why you’re avoiding the opportunity. Is it fear, or simply habit to avoid such things? I now find performing on stage is easy, small talk with one or two people afterwards is something I have to manage myself for. For tips on presenting, download “Improving your presentation skills”
- Identify your strengths. Think about the value you be bring to clients and others around you, when you interact. It’s quite possible you notice details that others don’t see. Don’t be clouded by other peoples (probably extroverts) ideas, if you need to spend time on your own for some tasks – do so. You’re independent, have great ideas and are innovative – when you’re energised.
- Show your strengths. You don’t have to show off to demonstrate your strengths, just demonstrate them. If you’re a great listener, refer back to things people said (when it adds value), ask your team about things they’ve told you their family are doing. What would show you skills, without showing off?
- Set expectations. Let people around you know that if you’re spending time reflecting, or working quietly all is OK. Ensure your team know they’ve done nothing wrong, it’s about you and how you work best.
Running your own firm and growing it can be tough for everybody, especially when you’re an introvert, but when you realise that you can manage energy, interact with others, take the limelight and be perceived as the , there’s no reason not to go for it. Many great leaders and CEOs are introverts, you can do it too.
What have you seen work well for introverts around you?