It's a myth that introverts can't become successful entrepreneurs. In fact, about four in 10 top executives are introverts, according to USA Today, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Steven Spielberg.
Many people (falsely) assume introverts are automatically shy, unassertive and even nebbish — not qualities associated with leadership. The truth is introverts can be as social and interpersonal as extroverts; they just prefer to return to an inner world to recharge. In fact, their many strengths -- introspection, analysis, awareness -- make them effective and successful leaders, perhaps more so than those who feel at home entertaining a large group of coworkers.
Introverts are great observers, which means they get more opportunities to study what other people want; on the other hand, they may not be as comfortable elbowing their way in front of people to get their ideas out there.
Because of this, introverted entrepreneurs can face problems when it comes to marketing themselves. In a work environment where extroversion is considered the norm, marketing can become an impossible hurdle for those who would much rather take over the business world from behind a laptop. Introverts don't need to change who they are, they just need to learn a few tips about selling themselves as an entrepreneur.
1. Focus on one-on-one networking opportunities.
Marketing yourself can seem like bragging or showing off -- and for those who think the entrepreneur world is already too flashy, it can be a pain. That said, introverts have a range of people skills that not everyone has and these can be put to good use in business situations.
For one, introverts are typically great listeners who make meaningful one-on-one connections. Though small talk isn't really their jam (never ask an introvert about the weather), they excel in "big talk," and love debating an issue they're passionate about.
To put that skill to use, introverts should still sign up for networking events and seminars but find ways to zero in on one person at a time — this will allow them to make a personal connection, develop of list of contacts, have in-depth conversations and soak in information using their great listening skills.
2. Use technology to your advantage.
Words are an important tool in business and in marketing yourself and introverts have a way with them. But unlike extroverts, who often talk as a way of thinking, introverts tend to hold back, gathering their thoughts and giving eloquent, perfectly formed answers -- rather than blurting something out. Understandably, many introverts prefer writing to speaking.
Well, there's a platform for that. The Internet is a great way for introverts to put their ideas and words out there -- and it's also essential for any entrepreneur who wants to brand him or herself. These days, personal websites, blogs, emails, newsletters, podcasts, videos and an active presence on social media are crucial for people who want to market themselves, increase their business following and network, and get somebody's attention.
3. Don't worry about impression, worry about results.
It's a rule of thumb that applies to everyone, introverts and extroverts alike: Don't focus too much on the impression you're leaving people with, focus on how your ideas can help them. People want to know how you can make their lives easier, so that should be the first thing you talk about when you're marketing yourself and your product.
Of course, one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur, especially an introverted one, is worrying about making a good impression. So, take that task off the table. Instead, simply focus your conversation around your ideas.
When you become an entrepreneur, your main job is to use your skills to provide the public with something that will make their lives easier. If you're an introvert, you can use your attention to detail, one-on-one people skills, aptitude for listening and intense empathy to find out exactly what that will be. The next, crucial step is to promote these ideas, which you can do by relying on the exact same set of skills. You'll end up giving the public the one thing that was missing from their lives.