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07/10/2013

How to build your personal brand as an introvert.

Despite the common misperception that all introverts are shy, and vice versa, they’re two very different phenomena. (Author and introversion expert Susan Cain defines shyness as “the fear of negative judgment,” while introversion is “a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”). 

It’s true that many of the best ways to establish your brand in the professional world are still weighted toward extroverts: taking leadership positions in professional associations, starting your own conference or networking group, or — indeed — embracing public speaking (all of which frequently entail extended social contact).
Over time, I’ve learned “when to say when” and graciously call it an evening. But for many introverts, it’s a
tough balance. Yet I’m convinced it’s possible to be real about building connections and developing our personal brands, while still respecting our natural tendencies.

First, social media may actually be an area where introverts, who thrive on quiet contemplation, have an advantage. With a blog — one of the best techniques for demonstrating thought leadership — you can take your time, formulate your thoughts, and engage in real dialogue with others. Indeed, while extroverts desperate for their next fix are trading business cards at cocktail parties, you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas.

Finally, use your downtime strategically. You’re likely to need more “thinking time”. So while the extroverts may be schmoozing with colleagues after work, you can ensure you’re being productive while you recharge by reading industry journals or thinking creatively about your company and your career. (Introverts often do their best thinking on their own.

In popular imagination, personal branding is often equated with extroverts. But there are other, sometimes better, ways you can define yourself and your reputation. Taking the time to reflect and be thoughtful about how you’d like to be seen and then living that out through your writing and your interpersonal relationships is a powerful way to ensure you’re seen as the leader you are.

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