“Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.”
The Cambridge dictionary defines as introvert as: “someone who is shy, quiet, and prefers to spend time alone rather than often being with other people.”
For many years, I associated being shy and quiet as signs of weakness. The world seemed to celebrate extroverts, and I was encouraged to be more like them. They were the poster children for confidence, intelligence and strength. Whilst I will always admire their boisterous demeanour of the extrovert, over time I am learning to appreciate the strength and immense creativity that comes with being an introvert.
“When I was young, all I wanted and expected from life was to sit quietly in some corner doing my work without the public paying attention to me. And now see what has become of me.” Albert Einstein
Some of the worlds most intelligent, creative and successful people are/were introverts, such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Prince, and JK Rowling.
The greatest ideas are often born out of silence and quiet observation – think Isaac Newton and his apple. The ability to truly listen, reflect and appreciate nuances ignites and fuels creativity.
If you are reading this as an introvert – who you are is beautiful and you have created something special with it. As a fellow introvert, I know that we want to share our passion with the world, and in doing so build a successful business. To do this means that, in most cases, you have to be visible. It means going against our nature of quietly getting on with it and shouting about it to the world instead – particularly in the age of social media there is so much pressure to share it all. So how can we be seen and heard whist remaining authentic?
Here are things that I have found helpful running a business as a creative introvert. I hope they resonate with some of you:
Celebrate who you are. Don’t let the world make you feel less important for being an introvert. It is not a weakness. You are valued and have so much to offer. Just like everyone else, you have a voice and deserve to be heard. Let your passion and determination drive you.
Find the platform that helps you best express yourself. You might hate large crowds and public speaking but you may have amazing writing skills – use this to your advantage. Share your passion for your craft with your social media posts, your blog posts, written interviews. Platforms that give you the opportunity to do what you do best – think and reflect before you speak. Play to your strength and run with it!
Arrange to meet people in smaller groups or one-to-one. The thought of a huge networking event with hundreds of people might fill you with dread. Like me, you may often find yourself at the back of the room pretending to read every leaflet you’ve been given a hundred times to avoid looking lost and awkward. It’s okay, these meetings are not for everyone. If there are particular people you would love to meet and potentially work with, reach out to them. Perhaps not in a creepy “I want you to give me business way” but with kindness and respect. Offer to meet them for a coffee, take them some cake. Sit with them and again, do what you do best, listen. Get to know them, give them the opportunity to ask you questions.
Buddy up. Sometimes, we may need to attend large gatherings. In these situations it might be nice to go with someone. You don’t necessarily have to be by their side all night, you could still go off and talk to people separately if you wish. You can however feel reassured that if you find yourself feeling awkward and reading leaflets again, there is at least on person there you can turn to!
Practice some of the things you struggle with. I remember being in a crowd and people asking me what I did. My mind was blank and I couldn’t find any words to eloquently put together a sentence. If this happens to you often, it might be a good idea to practice an answer beforehand. Make it short and simple, so it doesn’t come across as rehearsed. Chances are when you break the ice this way it gives people the chance to ask you more specific questions. Again, play to your strengths, listen and you’ll see that your responses will come naturally.
Be kind to yourself. You are who you are. Sometimes you will have to push yourself outside your comfort zone for your business. Always remember to give yourself time to recharge. If you can, take some time to yourself or spend it with the people who make you feel safe. Remember that these times are actually very important as we allow ourselves to be inspired and often our best ideas are birthed from this.
“Silence is beautiful not awkward. The human tendency to be afraid of something beautiful is awkward”. Elliot Kay
If you are reading this as an extrovert, can I make an appeal? Please remember that there are people out there who are different from you. Please give these people the space and support they need to be their best.
Ask them what works for them, and how you can help.
Running a business as an introvert comes with its challenges. However, if we play to our strengths and run with our passion, there are no limits to what we can achieve.
“Never assume quiet is weak and loud is strong.” Unknown