I am an introvert. I get my energy from solitude. I love people but prefer a quiet dinner with besties than attending a networking function. I am also a small business owner.
I feel a bit like introverts are having a moment in business. For me Susan Cain, in her extremely popular TED Talk, got the ball rolling showing brilliantly the contribution introverts make to the workforce. People started having real conversations about the contributions of introverts.
As a small business, I find it can be a particularly interesting challenge for me. I love quietly doing the work from home, I am in my element. Getting the work, well that part is a lot harder. For me, I focus on what I am good at. I reach out to people in small ways – through social, directly to businesses I would love to work with, even online tools like AirTasker – but I make it small, individual because that is what I am good at.
For those extroverts who manage introverts, I have one piece of advice – be quiet. Sounds silly but it’s a big old noisy world out there and as a manager you have to actively choose to slow down and listen to your people. I had a manager once who thought I was an extrovert so managed me as an extrovert. The catch? Well, I had been in the job for 3years and I knew the people, the role, the environment. He and I clashed. I felt like I was never doing enough, that he wasn’t interested in my thoughts on key matters and that he wanted me to be someone I wasn’t. No idea what he thought of me (possibly that I was an exceptionally emotional lady). Then one day we actually did Myers-Briggs training as a team and everything changed for us.
On the flip of that, for introverts managing extroverts my advice would be to organise one-on-ones. I had an extroverted events assistant once, she was great at being out there in front of everyone on stage but she forgot the behind the scenes things. By our powers combined we ensured that everyone (guests to speakers) had a fabulous experience but it took getting her away from the limelight to keep on top of it.
I recently wrote a piece for a gorgeous free magazine, The Introvert Effect, about that experience of entering the workforce for the very first time. My piece talks about what it is like for an introvert to enter the workforce, something I remember so strongly. It also speaks to the hard-won truth that it’s ok to be quiet. I highly recommend subscribing to the magazine, it’s well worth a read.
So tell me, are you an introvert? How does that influence your business? Your marketing?