It does seem that the vast majority of marketing advice is aimed at extroverts. “Go to networking mixers and meet new people,” the gurus and experts say. “Make cold calls.” “Speak in front of groups.” “Call people up and chat with them about what’s new.”
If you are an introvert, these experts might as well be telling you to fly to the moon. What if you don’t enjoy large gatherings, hate to call strangers on the phone, dislike being the center of attention, and loathe small talk? Can you still do well at marketing?
First, it may help to recognize that being an introvert is not a disorder, nor is it unusual. Introversion is simply a personality type. It’s been estimated that introverts make up 25 to 50 percent of the population. Many of us have both introverted and extroverted qualities, so finding alternatives to extroverted marketing can be helpful even if you are not a true introvert.
Introverts are often defined as those who gain energy when alone, but lose it when interacting with others, while extroverts are exactly the opposite. Introverts tend to be quieter, more deliberate, and enjoy solitary activities or being with just one person instead of a group. The typical introvert prefers deeper conversations to small talk, and often likes to listen more than to speak.
So how can an introvert do well at marketing? Effective marketing does require talking to people, and there’s no getting around that. But the good news is that most introverts do like talking to people, they just don’t like doing it with total strangers or in noisy crowds. Trying to force yourself to participate in activities that make you uncomfortable will usually backfire. Instead, identify your own personal comfort zone and try to work from within it.
For example, a client of mine felt uncomfortable at business networking events but enjoyed attending small, casual get-togethers. She always thought her problem was that she didn’t like being in large groups, so she avoided them completely. But when we looked together at exactly what was making her uncomfortable, it turned out that her real dislike was for the “mixer” atmosphere and not the groups themselves.
My client enjoyed sitting with a few people and speaking with them about what was going on in their lives or businesses. But she didn’t enjoy standing around chatting about the weather or the food. So the next time she attended a networking event, she found a table where several people were sitting and joined their conversation. Just the act of sitting down made her more comfortable, and she connected with several new people who she was able to talk to at length.
In creating your own marketing plan, pay attention to where you fall on the introversion/extroversion continuum when choosing what to do and how to do it. Here are some suggestions for adapting typical marketing activities to a more introverted personality.
Continue Reading »