Silicon Valley is overflowing with misconceptions. And while, by nature, every misconception is misleading, few are more deceptive than this one: Introverted people cannot be successful entrepreneurs.
Even if people don’t say this out loud, they quietly believe it. The reason that this myth is so dangerous is that it kills the confidence of introverts and gives them a faulty impression.
Introverts Can Be Successful
The term “introvert” was introduced by Carl Jung in the 20th century and was used to “describe a person whose motives and actions are directed inward.” By contrast, an extrovert became known as a person “whose motives and actions are directed outward.”
Because the characteristics of an extrovert include making friends easily, adjusting well in social situations, and showing interest and excitement in their surroundings, it’s naturally assumed that introverts are the exact opposite. In other words, people assume introverts can’t make friends, hate social situations, and have no interest in their surroundings. In reality, this is a gross exaggeration.
Yes, introverts are more reserved — but this doesn’t mean they hate people or have no interest in being productive members of society. It simply means introverts have a different approach; and in many cases, it works equally as well as an extroverted approach. If you want proof, just consider that the following successful individuals are/were all considered introverts:
- Albert Einstein. One of Einstein’s more famous quotes is, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” While he’s best known for developing the theory of relatively, Einstein is also a famous introvert.
- Mark Zuckerberg. Did you know that the founder of the world’s largest social network is actually a bit of an introvert? Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg told the New York Times in 2010 that Zuckerberg is actually rather “shy and introverted.”
- Rosa Parks. While most people know Parks for her act of courage on a bus in 1955, those close to her were used to a much more reserved person. After her death in 2005, friends described her as “timid and shy” with “the courage of a lion.”
- Warren Buffet. According to Buffet himself, he’s an introvert. When he started his career, he knew he had the intellect to be successful in business, but wasn’t quite sure about the leadership aspect. He actually enrolled in a “How to Win Friends and Influence People” course at one point.
5 Helpful Tips for Introverts
The fact is that extroverts get more attention and coverage. This makes sense, as they are much louder and outwardly engaged than introverts. However, did you know that between one-third and half of the US population consists of introverts?
That means roughly one out of every two entrepreneurs reading this article is an introvert. If you think you may be a part of that contingency, here are some tips you may find helpful.
1. Schedule Time to Recharge
As an introvert, you need time to recharge. If you keep jumping from one thing to the next, you’ll eventually run out of energy and stop being productive. Social interactions can be draining and a break from the hustle and bustle of the business world is needed.
Depending on the situation and timing, this will look different for everyone. In the short-term, this looks like taking a 15-minute break in the middle of the day. In the long-term, this may look like taking a long weekend to yourself. You know yourself best, but make sure you’re taking some time to recharge.
2. Be Intentional About Building Relationships
Building relationships is a huge thing for introverts. It’s not that you don’t like people; rather, the thought of working hard to form a relationship tires you. This is something you need to power through, though. You cannot be a successful entrepreneur on your own. Be intentional about building relationships and force yourself to reach out to the people around you.
Instead of using business cards, try this business networking tip that I use.
3. Utilize Your Listening Skills
As an introvert, your greatest strength may be your ability to listen. In a world where most people speak before they think, your natural inclination is to listen first and speak second. From an entrepreneurial point of view, this is very valuable.
Listening is something that you can use to enhance everything from sales to marketing. Avoid suppressing this talent and instead find ways to leverage it for success.
4. Stretch Yourself Through Networking
Because networking doesn’t come naturally, you have to force yourself to take chances.
Sign up for speaking engagements at conferences, schedule interviews with local publications, and attend industry networking events.
The hardest part is signing up.
Once you get over that hump, you’ll find that networking isn’t just for extroverts.
5. Outsource Tasks You Can’t Handle
Bill Gates, another successful introvert, was once asked about how to be successful in a world that’s largely dominated by extroverts. While he touched on some of the specific skills introverts need to hone, he also admitted that a business can’t be managed and operated by an entire group of introverts.
There must be some extroverted influence involved.
“Then, if you come up with something, if you want to hire people, get them excited, build a company around that idea, you better learn what extroverts do, you better hire some extroverts (like Steve Ballmer I would claim as an extrovert) and tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas,” Gates said.
Putting it All Together
Being an introvert isn’t something negative or shameful. In fact, it’s quite normal. While the mainstream media and pop culture make it seem as if everyone else is an extrovert, the truth remains that a significant portion of the population is reserved and laid back.
As an entrepreneur, being an introvert can work to your advantage.
However, you must know how to effectively utilize the skills you’re given. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next successful, yet introverted entrepreneur.
Like this article? Check out my article on 7 social media mistakes you don’t know you are making, how I used time blocking to grow my business, and 10 biggest business mistakes that every entrepreneur should avoid.
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