How Do You Market Yourself When You’re Not an Extrovert?
It seems that the vast majority of marketing advice is aimed at
extroverts. “Go to networking mixers and meet new people,” the
authorities 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
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 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
1. Attend with a friend. When planning to attend a networking
meeting or social event where you hope to mingle with
prospective clients, invite a friend or colleague to go with
you. Agree that you will help each other to meet new people.
Introduce your companion to anyone you already know there and
ask him or her to do the same. Choose in advance some intriguing
topics for conversation, and invite others you meet to discuss
these issues with the two of you.
2. Seek out structure. Many introverts abhor mixers but enjoy
meeting people in more structured environments such as leads
groups or workshops. Look for groups where the meeting format
allows each person time to introduce themselves formally, or
builds networking exercises into the program. You may find that
it’s easier to talk about yourself when there is a specific time
allotted for just that purpose.
3. Avoid the crowds. Mingling at events may not be an
environment where you do your best. Instead of trying to meet
people in group settings, do your networking one-on-one. Arrange
to meet with people for coffee or lunch to get to know them
better. When you run out of people you already know to meet
with, ask a friend or colleague to set up a three-way meeting
with someone they know.
4. Prepare what to say. Whether you are attending an event or
placing a follow-up call, most introverts find it helpful to
plan out in advance what they want to talk about. This type of
preparation gives you time to reflect on what you wish to
express and explore the best way to say it. A short list of
topics for discussion or questions you want to ask, kept in your
pocket or by your phone, may help you feel more grounded in your
5. Write instead of call. It’s true that it’s usually more
effective to contact prospective clients by phone than by email
or letter. But if calling makes you uncomfortable enough that
you tend to simply avoid it, go ahead and write instead. You’ll
probably find writing notes and letters more productive when you
use them to follow up with prospects who already know you than
if you try to approach strangers that way. To reach out to those
you haven’t met, you may need to…
6. Establish connections. Approaching people who have never
heard of you to ask for their business is not a requirement for
successful marketing. In fact, introductions and referrals will
open many more doors than cold calls. Ask friends and colleagues
to introduce you to people who might need your services, and
spend time getting better acquainted with others who serve your
target market. These collegial conversations will be both more
comfortable and more effective.
7. Promote by publishing. The focused, reflective nature of many
introverts makes them excellent writers. Writing and publishing
articles, a blog, reports and studies, or even a book can
attract many prospective clients and boost your credibility.
When clients come to you already acquainted with your work
instead of you approaching them as a stranger, marketing
conversations become more relaxed and intimate — just what most
There’s one area of marketing at which introverts often shine.
While extroverts typically enjoy meeting new people and find it
relatively effortless to fill their marketing pipeline, they
don’t always do well at following up with the people they meet.
Introverts, on the other hand, frequently excel at building
strong relationships over time.
If you focus your marketing on staying in touch with people and
getting to know them better instead of continually trying to
seek out new contacts, you may find that your introverted style
of marketing works better than what the extroverts are doing
Copyright © 2006, C.J. Hayden
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at www.getclientsnow.com.