Personal branding is a powerful tool that can help establish and advance your business goals. At the same time, for introverts, it can be an emotionally taxing endeavor ― such that many avoid it altogether. And with 30–50% of people considering themselves introverted, that’s a lot of missed opportunity.
So how does an introvert reap the benefits of a strong personal brand without burning out in the process? It takes a keen understanding of the differences between extroverts and introverts as well as of your own limits.
Introversion Doesn’t Mean Shy
Society commonly conflates the two, but introversion is not the same as being uncomfortable around people. An introvert is someone who must use additional energy in social situations and at a certain point needs to recharge. Someone who is shy simply doesn’t like being around large groups of people. There are certainly people for whom these are one and the same ― or for whom being an introvert has made them shyer around people ― but it’s not a guarantee.
Even for those who are shy and introverted, it is possible to overcome that initial discomfort to build a personal brand. The key is to listen to yourself and understand when you need a break to recharge.
There are problems with this approach, of course. Most personal branding advice is focused on things that extroverts naturally gravitate toward ― public speaking, networking groups, and taking on leadership roles in the community. For an introvert who has limited social energy, this can prove challenging. But there are tricks that will help to tackle these issues head-on.
Leveraging Social Media as a Bridge
For many introverts, social media represents a perfect alternative to in-person engagement. It rewards those who are thoughtful and methodical in their approach, and it offers dozens of low-stress ways to interact with people. At the same time, social media is a powerful amplifier for your message, especially thought leadership in the form of blog posts you’ve written or videos you have recorded.
Instead of focusing primarily on how to meet and exchange contact information with strangers at networking events, introverts thrive in building a brand based on their ideas and experience. Social media offers the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Building a Curated Network
As an introvert, you will always struggle in large, overly social environments. Meeting dozens of people in succession will sap you of your strength and make it difficult to fully engage with anyone.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t network. It just means you need to do it smarter. Carefully select who you want to spend time with, when you want to spend time with them, and how you will build a relationship with that person. For example, invite specific individuals to lunch once a week. Colleagues, coworkers, or fellow business owners are all good targets with whom to build a small, curated network that is relevant to your expertise. While networking is only one step in building a personal brand, it provides the backbone you’ll need for future activities.
Investing in Increased Knowledge
Be realistic about what you can achieve and how you can achieve it. You’re not going to be the social butterfly who jumps into the fray at networking events or takes the reins of a local business organization. Introverts are thinkers who do their best thinking alone, so take advantage of that by investing in ongoing education. Read industry journals, watch webinars from fellow thought leaders, and send carefully worded emails and LinkedIn messages to people you want to connect with.
These things will help you build up a larger foundation of expertise in your field while carefully selecting and growing your connections with people who can help you distribute your personal brand. While knowledge doesn’t automatically equate to success, it can help give you an edge over extroverted colleagues who can spend more time engaging with your ideal audience.
Keeping Personal Branding from Being Too “Personal”
Some of the most successful personal brands work because they rely heavily on personal details and insights into the person’s life. For many introverts, the thought of opening their life to outsiders creates additional anxiety and stress. They prefer to keep personal and professional strictly separate and not share intimate details about their families, their personal struggles, or their preferences. But this makes things harder. For every Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey, there are thousands who would prefer to build their brand on expertise alone, without oversharing. This is possible. Your story can be inspiring without oversharing. People will respond better if you appear to feel comfortable in your messaging. At the same time, a certain amount of “personality” is needed to make your brand memorable, so be selective about the details you share and their impact on your life.
Building a Stronger Personal Brand
There is no right or wrong way to build a personal brand. After all, this is your personal brand. It should reflect what you excel at. For introverts, this means doing things a little differently than your extroverted colleagues. Focus on thought leadership, invest in professional development, and build a network of the right people, and you’ll be well on your way to standing out among a crowd of experts in your field.