What’s your superpower?
Here’s mine: I’m a card-carrying, badge-wearing, proud-as-punch INTROVERT.
Okay, this is a new thing for me.
Not being an introvert — I was born this way, baby! But the card-carrying, proud-as-punch part…that’s new.
I read Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ a few years ago and while that did turn me on to the idea that there’s nothing inherently wrong with being an introvert, I never could quite square it with being an entrepreneur.
Sure, it was fine on a personal level. I embraced a slower-paced social life (with two kids, it wasn’t much of an issue!) and stopped feeling ashamed of my tendency to skip the small talk and dive into deep and meaningful conversations with people I didn’t know all that well.
But when it came to work, I still kept trying to unleash the ‘inner extrovert’ I was sure was there.
I’d book myself in for countless in-person networking meetings. I’d challenge myself to talk to as many different people as possible. And I’d head home with a pile of business cards and a headache I couldn’t shift for two days.
Because, the truth is, I don’t have an ‘inner extrovert’. She just doesn’t exist.
I’d fallen into the trap of thinking that introverts are shy, that they lack confidence, that they’re antisocial. And I am none of those things. Which is why I was so sure there must have been an extrovert hiding somewhere deep in my psyche just ready to pop out and slay this whole entrepreneurship thing.
And I’d fallen into a second trap: believing that I needed to be more extroverted if I wanted to make more connections, close more sales, and build a successful business.
Well, fellow introverts, let me reassure you right now, that is utter bull.
How do I know?
Last month I was invited to join a summit for entrepreneurial introverts: the Quietly Successful Summit, hosted by Fifi Mason and it was a real game-changer.
Because the majority of the speakers weren’t just experts on introverts, they were introverts. And they’re all (not so) quietly killing it in their fields.
There were bestselling authors (Mark Schaeffer! If you’ve read this, you’ll know I’m a big fan!), keynote speakers, marketing specialists, and coaches. All introverts who have learned to succeed not in spite of their introversion, but because of it.
The summit ran for a whole week so there were far too many takeaways for me to share here but the overarching theme was this:
Learn to love your introversion. It isn’t an affliction to try and overcome: it’s a freakin’ superpower to embrace.
Introverts are great connectors.
This may surprise you if, like me, you’re an introvert that has always felt like a fish out of water at networking events.
But here’s the thing: extroverts and introverts network differently. An extrovert will happily engage in small talk with 20 different people. They’ll feel energised afterwards and probably have picked up a tonne of great ideas along with the pile of business cards.
That just won’t work for introverts. We’ll cringe at the small talk and we’ll feel drained by the whole thing. Cue that post-networking headache. Again.
Now that doesn’t mean we should avoid networking altogether (although you CAN build a successful business without EVER attending one of these events) but it does mean that you should approach it differently.
Introverts are amazing connectors — we’re genuinely curious, great listeners, and thrive on meaningful interactions. We prefer skipping straight over the small talk and getting right down to the more important stuff. So by pacing yourself at networking events, by talking to just two or three people instead of 20, you won’t just come home with a business card, you’ll likely leave having created a solid foundation for a new business relationship.
Our listening skills are off the charts.
Not only is this an advantage during networking events, it’s great when it comes to closing sales too. Whether you’re writing your sales copy or talking directly to a potential client, listening is everything.
Because when you listen, you understand. When you listen, you uncover new problems your clients are facing AND new ways to help them out. When you listen, you focus on how to serve rather than how to sell.
We’re champions when it comes to working alone.
That’s kind of a biggie when you’re self-employed, right? Because whether you’re a consultant, a designer, a craftsperson, or a coach, much of your time will be spent working alone. You’ll be alone during meeting prep, alone while you devise your marketing strategy, alone when you work on your business goals.
And that is a-okay. You don’t need the buzz of a team to energise you; you can shut yourself in your office and quietly and efficiently hatch your plans for world domination. Or something less creepy.
But that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t play well with others.
You likely thrive in small groups, particularly when you’re with people you know well. So you’re absolutely on board with working with other entrepreneurs whose skill sets complement your own. For example, as much as I enjoy the time spent solo in my office, researching and writing, I equally love the times that I connect with my designer or my clients for brainstorming and collaborative work.
Nutshell time: your introversion will only negatively impact your business if you try to fight it. If you’re constantly searching for an inner extrovert that simply doesn’t exist, you’ll spend far too much of your precious time feeling drained and depleted.
But by embracing your true introverted self, you can protect your energy, make the most of your natural skills like your curiosity, your attention to detail, and your ability to self-motivate, and you’ll finally create a business that works perfectly for you, and the gorgeous introvert you are.
I’d love to know: have you been trying to hide your inner introvert? Or did you discover your own superpower long ago? I’d love to know so drop me a comment and share your top tips for running a business as an introvert.