How I Run A Successful Relationships-Based Business As An Introvert
Ok, first of all, let's make it suuuper clear that it is not hard for an introvert to build a huge empire and be wildly successful in business. Being introverted isn't an obstacle to overcome, it's just a personality type. Extroverts gain energy by being around others, and introverts gain energy by being alone. That's it. I have had soooo many people tell me, "I could never do what you do! I'm so shy!"..."I get too nervous around people"..."I am kind of anti-social"...and every time, all I can think is how they are just EXACTLY. LIKE. ME. When people comment on how I'm just so fun and they could never be like that, I want to scream, "I'm not just LIKE THAT, you guys! I'm doing that on PURPOSE, and you can, too!!!" It kills me that anyone would think being an introvert, or just being shy in general, or not ever wanting to be around big groups of people, are things that would hold them back from the success they want in life. None of that matters, and all you fellow introverted badasses NEED to know that.
Being introverted is not going to hinder your success in building a business. You can actually use it to your advantage, like A LOT. One of the ways I use it to my advantage is by running my business almost completely online and via texts and phone calls. BUT...when your business depends so heavily on networking, meeting and speaking to strangers, it can be REALLY exhausting for someone like me, who doesn't even want to put on pants or leave the house, just to meet strangers virtually. I have a very love/hate relationship with meeting new people. I LOVE getting to make friends! Finding awesome people, who are MY people, brings me so much joy! I love that because of my business, I have all different kinds of friends, from all over the world, who I truly, genuinely CARE about. The "hate" part...it's that first awkward conversation. Introducing myself. Having someone else introduce me. Having people who don't know me looking at me, listening to me speaking, watching my facial expressions, and in my mind...judging me. I once became physically ill, just from watching a video of a couple introverted friends walk across a stage to receive recognition in a room full of people. A VIDEO! It wasn't even of ME! And they were totally fine! I wasn't prepared to WATCH them have to extrovert for those 2 minutes, and suddenly imagining myself walking across that stage, in front of all those people, literally made me nauseous. I CAN be in front of people and be totally fine, in fact I can LOVE it, but I need time to pump myself up first. I have to get my brain ready for allllll that incoming energy from everyone else in the room. Oh, and small talk! Having to make small talk is literally painful. I'd rather jump right into a political debate than talk about the weather! Meaningful, thought-provoking conversation does suck my social energy just as much as small talk, but at least it also feeds my soul. Unfortunately, it's slightly frowned upon (especially in business relationships) to skip the fluff and jump right into, "Hi, I'm Lauren! Have you ever looked into where your taxes go, which trusted professionals get kick backs when you follow their advice, or the corruption of our federal government? What are your thoughts on abortion and the poverty cycle?" People tend to be turned off by that. Weird, right?
So how do I do it? How do I extrovert? Yes, that is a verb now. It might have already been, but now it definitely is. When I have to go be in a group of people, when I have to make small talk, when I have to be the center of attention, I don't get to just magically change my personality type. I can't change what makes me ME, and I don't want to! Like I said before, I have to really pump myself up. If you've met me in person, or in a virtual party, or seen me in a live video on my fan page, I likely spent all day preparing myself for those few minutes. No crazy prep exercises, nothing that anyone would be able to tell I was doing, but just running through the impending scenario in my head, and visualizing how I would act. I picture myself being fun and energetic, and I imagine the long-term payoff of the temporary extroverting. In social situations, it's that I'll have more awesome friends in my life to sit quietly and drink wine with while wearing leggings. In professional situations, it's that I'll be able to reach more people with my business, solve their problems and bring value to their lives, and likely also end up with more friends to sit quietly and drink wine with while wearing leggings. See how the extroverting is a means to an end, and the end is always something my introverted self would LOVE to do? It's all about training your brain. Whatever you WANT to happen will happen, but you have to believe it.
Another trick is to pretend you are talking to your bestie. You know that friend who you can say ANYTHING to, who you can literally pee your pants laughing with and it just makes you both laugh even harder? Whether you're in front of a camera or in a room full of people, picture your best friend standing right there. Talk to her, and ONLY her. You won't forget everyone else is there, but you won't care as much. My family and close friends jokingly refer to me as an "attention whore". They are 100% correct. I DO love attention...from them. I love being the person to make everyone laugh...amongst close friends. I am the life of the party...when the party is a small group of people who I'm totally comfortable with. When I'm around strangers and I don't FORCE myself to be social, you wouldn't even know I am there.
For example, I literally just stopped writing this to go hand a couple ladies at Starbucks samples. They were talking about where they get their nails done, I took like 5 minutes to get it together jussst enough to go hand them samples and say, "Let me know what you guys think of these!" I'm back at my computer now, in my quiet little corner, with my hands shaking and my heart in my throat. It wasn't EASY, but walking over to them spurred a conversation and I made two new friends, and you guys...I DIDN'T DIE. Some deep breathing is bringing me back to my happy place. Which brings me to my next tip...(and seriously, how serendipitous was THAT?!)
Have an after-(anti)-party. When you know you are going to go expend loads of energy being around people, you HAVE to know that solitude is coming soon after. When I have an event or meeting, I have a set time that I KNOW I am done. Virtual or face-to-face, I know exactly what time I am closing my laptop or heading to my "next appointment". Confession: My next appointment is with MYSELF, and usually consists of a nap, book, or binge watching my favorite show. There is almost always either Extreme Maximum Fudge Moose Tracks ice cream or a good merlot, and if we are being reeeally honest there is usually both. If it's the middle of the day, it's coffee. When I have an entire day full of action, I know when my next break is. Bathroom stalls are a hell of a quiet space for some alone time. NO ONE is gonna come talk to you or question why you're in there! You know how as moms of little kids, we joke about hiding in the bathroom to get away from the stimulation overload for a few minutes? Yeah...I totally do that with my kids, but I do it with adults even more. Don't tell anyone! Those bathroom breaks keep me sane and fun, and get me to the end of the day, where ice cream, wine, a blanky, and Scandal is waiting patiently.
I realize this may be coming off as very, "fake it til you make it!" It IS a little bit like that! The most important thing you can do to conserve your energy and find the success you deserve is to be true to yourself, though. Remember how I said to pretend you're speaking to your best friend? It's not about pretending to be someone else, it's about tricking your brain to believe you are in a comfy place with close friends, who you can be 100% YOU with. If you have a dry sense of humor, don't pretend to be bubbly. If you are sarcastic AF, don't pretend to be a sweet little strawberry shortcake.
Every single person on this Earth has something beautiful to give the rest of us. Still be YOU! Just be the version of YOU that isn't holding back the amazingness that you have to offer!