by Emmy McCarthy
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t an introvert, I have always been very happy in my own company, on the sidelines, quietly doing my own thing. But over the years something happened, I found a purpose and suddenly I had to start showing up and being more visible than I ever had before.
I can’t tell you that it has been easy (it hasn’t) or that it is now something I am comfortable with (it’s not), but what I can pass on to you are the ways I have discovered to be an introvert and still show up for my business and my people.
Here we go…
1) Gather Your People
Do you know one of the best things about being an introvert? We are great listeners, and other people really like that quality in us. We may not have the biggest address book, or the most people on Facebook but the people we do connect with tend to be more engaged with what we are doing. Those people feel like they know us because we spend our time listening to what they want and getting to know more about them. Which means that later on, when we need to raise awareness about what we are doing we can use that to our advantage and ask our people to spread the word for us. All it takes is for one person to tell two people, who tell two people, who tell four people etc. to start the ball rolling. Gather your people, when you need them, they’ll be there.
2) Give Back
Hands up if you hate networking. So do I. There is nothing I dread more than having to make small talk with other people, particularly in a small business setting where if feels as if the other attendees are looking at me as if I am their next paycheque aka. lunch. I know how important it is to connect with people in real life instead of from the relative safety of your laptop – actually doing it though, is much harder in my opinion. When I was a child, my mother would frequently be complimented on what a nice helpful child I was. As confusing as this was for my mother, who saw nothing of this helpful child at home, it was a true observation, no matter who’s birthday party I was at, you would find me in the kitchen with the adults offering to help. It didn’t matter what help they needed, I wanted to help because when I was helping I had a job to do. As an adult, I am just the same, happiest in a group setting if I have a job to do. So I volunteer for things, I get involved, I help out. Not only do I get to feel good about that, it has the added benefit of introducing me to new skills and contacts. Win=Win.
3) Raise Your Voice
I know what you’re thinking, “are you crazy Emmy, you want me to get up in front of a room full of people and speak about what I do? In front of people who are going to be looking at me?” Yes, yes I do. That is exactly what I want you to do and here’s why: knowing how to explain what you do and learning to speak as an authority on that topic is a skill worth cultivating. Right now the idea of doing so may feel paralysing but, I promise, the payoff can far outweigh that temporary discomfort. As a speaker at an event, you have a role, a reason for being there. It is the ultimate icebreaker, the introductions are already done for you. Everyone will know who you are and what you do. I won’t lie to you, getting up on stage wasn’t always easy for me, I have invested time and money into getting better at it. I still find speaking exhausting but I know that if I am going to make an impact in this world then speaking is the quickest way to do so. After all, given the choice of speaking to a room full of 200 people or being asked to network in a room with 200 people I know which option my introverted-self would choose.
4) Share Your Knowledge
This is going to get a bit meta, so do bear with me… I am a huge fan of teaching everything you know. I think sharing knowledge is a great way for us to connect with others. After all, unless you really have discovered the meaning of life or have invented something truly life-changing that has never been seen before, then mostly what you will be sharing is a new take on an existing concept. Be generous with your knowledge, share it with others. For me, one of the easiest ways to share my knowledge is through writing and one of the best ways for to make sure that other people see what I am writing is through guest posting. Just like I am doing now with a guest post about guest posting, see, meta, I told you… If you love to write, then it is much easier to approach other people and offer posts to them (or say yes when people ask you for posts) than it is to single-handedly build your own audience.
5) Find Your Allies
In your career, you will find that there are people in your circle that others naturally gravitate towards. You will discover that you hang out in the same Facebook groups, know the same people and you are always being asked, “Do you know X? You must know X.” Listen carefully when others point these people out to you. Get to know these people, and what they do because they may become very important in your future. Likewise, look for people that you want to champion, who are doing things which you believe in. If they are doing something well, highlight it to your community. Be a connector, help people discover each other and you will naturally find your own allies who will share what you are doing whenever they have an opportunity to do so.
As an introvert, navigating the topic of visibility can feel overwhelming, but at its core all visibility means to me is telling one more person about what you do. I want to challenge you to tell one person what you do, then tell one more person, and another, and another. Because, you need to keep showing up for the people who genuinely want to hear about what you do, who need the solution that you provide to their problems. Trust me, before you know it, you will discover that there is much more ease in how you are being visible for your purpose, and sometimes it may even feel effortless.
About the Author:
Emmy McCarthy helps small business owners get clear, get focused and take action as they design their business to make impact, and income. Emmy is a community builder to her core who likes nothing better than popping the lid off small businesses and poking around to make them work better. You can connect with Emmy every fortnight through her Notes for the Curious, a curated digest of the most interesting, inspirational and actionable content she can find on the internet. And if you are looking to take your business to the next level then you will definitely want to check out her signature Change Maker Programme.