Source | FastCompany : By Suzan Bond
My family branded me an extrovert early. They saw that I wasn’t shy with strangers but overlooked all the hours I spent alone reading. I tried to live up to their expectations. My first job involved fielding phone calls all day, and spending two or three nights a week at events. My next jobs were equally social. When I started my own business, networking was the primary way I promoted myself.
By my early thirties, though, it became hard to keep up the act. When my work required evening events, I countered by scheduling me time and spending whole weekends alone. I worried that if I stopped pretending to be extroverted, my business would suffer and I’d have to go back to working for someone else. Finally, I rebelled. I knew I had to change the way I sold myself. I had to rebuild my marketing efforts on a new foundation.
Living in an extroverted society, we’ve been taught that promoting ourselves requires “people skills” like schmoozing with strangers, small talk, thinking fast on your feet, and in-person sales meetings. These rules tend to penalize introverts, pushing us into situations where we aren’t likely to excel. So many introverts leave the selling to someone else, toiling away in some back room or cubicle. If we choose to work for ourselves, we obscure a big part of our true personalities in order to get along.
Maybe you’ve always been an introvert or tuned into those tendencies as you’ve gotten older. Can you still promote yourself professionally in a world of extroverts without feeling like an alien? Unequivocally, yes—and you don’t have to have a personality transplant. Here’s what I’ve learned.
STOP TRYING TO BE AN EXTROVERT
Extroverts are the blonds of the Myers-Briggs world—we think they’re supposed to have more fun. We also tend to think there are more extroverts out there, even though as many as half of us are introverts. These beliefs often encourage introverts to put on an act. Trying to be something you’re not makes you look awkward, pushing people away.
When I stopped trying to pass as an extrovert, embracing my introversion—surprise, surprise—I became more comfortable with myself. Rather than fumbling, I was more confident. My business grew rather than floundered.