Personal Brand-Building for Introverts

I just started reading Quiet, by Susan Cain, and realized with some discomfort that I, as a personal branding expert and presentation coach, am part of our cultural drive towards extroversion.

We weren’t always this way, favoring or even requiring people to be extroverts. The author describes a cultural shift around the turn of the 20th Century from the Culture of Character to the Culture of Personality. A mass movement from farms to cities, from agriculture to industry, drove this change. Rather than working with neighbors, people were now working with strangers.

With strangers, it’s important to make a good first impression. Even with acquaintances, colleagues, clients or contacts. Especially if you want them to connect you to someone else who will help you reach your goals.

It’s called networking, and it’s something I teach in my workshops. And the fact of the matter is, in our society, that is how things work. I don’t believe in the old saying: it’s not what you know it’s who you know. To be successful, you need to know who and what.

That means sharing of your knowledge, skills and talents so people will know that you are the person who can help them fill their needs. I always say: it’s not selling, it’s sharing.

Selling downright freaks some people out, especially introverts. To many, it means being disingenuous. I focus on sharing who you really are in a way that’s authentic to you.

But there’s good news for introverts, which those of you who start your Myers-Briggs with an I already know. The shift from an industrial to an electronic society makes it possible to do a lot of sharing via technology.

If you fear public speaking, you can make videos and post them on your website or YouTube. Millions can benefit from your knowledge and you never even have to make eye contact.

Some people lament they can no longer just show up to meet the hiring manager and give them your résumé. Others are thrilled they’ll never have to do that again. Instead, you can ask one of your LinkedIn contacts to connect you to their colleague at your dream job.

It seems technology is starting to even the playing field for introverts.

The important thing is, be yourself. Find the way to share that suits you. But don’t keep your gifts to yourself. Otherwise no one can benefit from them, and that includes you.

As for me, I learned a new word from Quiet: ambivert. That’s what I am – neither an extrovert or introvert, but some of both. That explains a lot – like why I’ve never met a microphone I didn’t like, and why I usually prefer an evening of good conversation with one other person, or just the company of my dog. Sometimes I get energy from others and sometimes I just need to go home and take a nap.

These personalities all reside in my body, and now I know it’s just me being an ambivert.

If you want to know more about the power of introverts, read Quiet or watch Susan’s TED talk.