“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein
In the current age of personal branding, everyone is expected to be their own best PR person.
Whether you’re a recent college grad, a startup founder, a company CEO or a business professional, you’re expected to be relentlessly building an image as a team player, a thought leader, a networker and an innovator.
But what if you’re an introvert?
The good news is that for every partying Marie Antoinette, there’s an introspective Albert Einstein. For many of us, the business day is already challenging, so any extra effort for personal branding or PR falls by the wayside—it’s too exhausting.
Here are some pointers for leveraging PR tactics to boost your profile, even if you’re not a TED talk candidate or a six-nights-a-week networker.
Set [realistic] networking goals. If you’re an introvert, it’s useful to set a manageable goal for building relationships, like an hour at a networking event each month or coffee with a new contact (just one!) once a week.
The same applies to daily social media. It’s easy to sit back and read a social feed or repost interesting content, but to build a profile, you need to actually engage with others. You can and should be selective; key journalists and analysts in your sector, prospective business partners, and potential customers should be at the top of the list.
Build your digital footprint. Digital media is one of the world’s greatest gifts to introverts. The key is to be purposeful in how you present yourself and spend your digital and social media time.
Stake out the social platform that feels most comfortable—Twitter, LinkedIn or, what the heck, even Instagram—and make sure your profile reflects your business life and goals. It’s also good to mix a bit of your personal story in your digital profile and real-life interactions with people. If you’ve traveled to 17 countries, built your first business at 13 or are passionate about the latest happenings in your town’s music or art scene, work that into your social profiles.
Or, go small. If taking on Twitter feels too big, join a LinkedIn networking group and become active within that one community. Or, check out Quora, whose Q&A format lends itself to sharing expertise. Introverts are natural listeners, so any forum in which interested parties engage to seek help or advice is a good prospect. The right social community can help you establish your credentials and warm up cold leads, if not build outright relationships.
Let your content speak for you. Introverts are often more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than in social or business networking situations, so, if that’s the case, leverage your authority through content that you create. A blog is still a great way to do this. But if it’s too large a time commitment, a thoughtful piece posted once a month on LinkedIn—or even your company’s blog—will go a long way toward raising your profile.
Reference your own authority. We frequently counsel clients to do this during media training sessions, and the introverts have difficulty with it because it feels like bragging. But it pays to remember that you’re not selling a service or product—you’re offering expertise. And that expertise isn’t always as obvious as you think from your job title. Whether it’s 20 years in data analytics or three “dog years” building a tech startup, it is your experience and resulting insights that can raise your profile with the people who count.
Be a resource. To that end, one of your goals should be to position yourself or your company as a go-to for relevant journalists. Get specific. What data or insight can you offer? Hard stats, evidence of category trends, competitive intelligence or actual news will get the attention of media who follow your industry.
Protect your ‘you’ time. While introverted people can be shy, this is the true touchstone of the personality type. Introverts gain energy from solitude. We can—and often do—enjoy being around people but only for so long. Once our energy is drained, we crave the peace and rejuvenation of being alone.
Taking time each day to regroup will make you more productive—even if it’s just going for a quick solo walk on your lunch break or stepping away from your computer to make a pot of tea.
And, last but not least:
Have confidence in what you bring to the table. Know you are an asset and know why. This will help you feel secure as you brave the wilds of networking, both online and IRL (in real life).