I’m an ambivert.
If you think of a continuum on a line, with Introvert on the left and Extrovert on the right, I sit about in the middle and vacillate one way or the other– turning on or off depending on the situation.
“Hey, let’s go to this 500-person wedding where there will be NO ONE there that you know and no way to escape!” – UM…NO. NOPE. SUPER NOPE.
“Hey, let’s go to this 20-person wedding at Voodoo Donuts in Portland that’ll last 15 minutes and you’ll know 100% of the people there!” – Hmmm…. I guess that’ll work. I can tell my 10 dumbest jokes, everyone will GET them…and probably laugh.
I generally spend more time on the ‘introvert’ side of the continuum and while being an ambivert CAN be useful in some situations, as they tend to bring balance, sometimes being an ambivert who is a little too introverted can really complicate raising your public profile and promoting your personal brand.
You don’t want to talk about yourself…too vain or maybe people will think you’re too weird and that’s going to turn people off.
You don’t want to show your quality…too self-serving and people will see right through that.
You don’t want to put yourself out there…too scary, what if people now want to QUESTION me about my accomplishments?
What we know: Your personal brand matters and it doesn’t matter how old (or young) you are.
Here’s something else we know: You must nurture it, regardless. You’ve got to. There are too many important things for you and your career riding on it. Everyone has to do the basics, but for an introvert or ambivert, taking the next step of putting yourself out there is a ponderous one.
So, what are we introverts and ambiverts going to do about it?
Let’s ease into action, shall we, with these 5 tips to putting yourself out there…without all that heavy, cloying anxiety (ok, we’re still going to have SOME):
1. You have accomplishments to talk about. They are demonstrably yours and you can prove it. You’re not an imposter. So, talk about them.
List out the professional accomplishments you have done and the roles you have had. You’ve learned from all of them and had success (even if just a bit) at all of them. Break out your resume or ask former peers for details you might have forgotten.
Flesh out those details and know them inside and out. Consider making an offline or online portfolio. Treat it like preparing for a job interview. A lifelong one where you’ll always be talking about yourself. The more details you have written down the more confident you’ll be when someone asks you a question. Not having a ton of confidence can show, and that’s a mistake you can’t afford to make when it comes to talking about your accomplishments.
Update your “Skills” on LinkedIn. Listing 5 or more skills in your LinkedIn profile will get you up to 17 times more profile views than without.
Practice explaining those skills and accomplishments. And then practice again. Make flashcards. Make lists. Buy a whiteboard and hang it in your home and list out details that you have difficulty remembering so you can take a gander when walking to put away the dishes. Write things down on a big notecard and use clips to adhere it to the sun visor of your vehicle. The more you PRACTICE explaining, the less anxiety you’ll feel when someone FINALLY asks you about you.
Put it out there. Release your accomplishments to the wild and gain confidence by engaging with the response, at whatever speed you need. The beauty of the internet and social networking sites is that you don’t HAVE to respond right away. Take a breath. Take a moment. Respond when ready…but keep it authentic.
2. Or…get others to do it for you.
Find people who know you and know your skills. This shouldn’t be hard to do with social networking. The hard part will be the next part:
Ask them for recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn. One of the hallmarks of being an introvert/ambivert is not feeling comfortable ‘bothering’ anyone for anything – even if it’s important. You won’t even send back that cheeseburger at a restaurant (you ordered the fish, dang it, and you were looking forward to it!) and now we’re asking you to ask a peer (and maybe one you haven’t talked to in-person for years) for an endorsement on LinkedIn? Tip: Do one for THEM first. Do one for as many peers as you can BEFORE you ask for one back. Make them authentic and lead by example.
Thank them for doing it – even if they are just returning the effort. No one is EVER upset by being thanked and people don’t do it enough. Your brand has always been to thank people for helping because you DO appreciate it. BE your brand and show them love.
3. Embrace your ‘weird’ and get others excited about it as well
Share what you are stoked about and teach others about it to try to get them stoked too. Are you into cars so much so that you have engine oil pumping through your veins and can explain what a catalytic converter is to someone like me who thinks a “disc brake” is some sort of lull in the music at a club? Are you so into data that you named your cat Excel? What’s weird to some is utterly fascinating and useful to others. Embrace your uniqueness – people love that and want to know more about you (aka, your brand).
Don’t be afraid to show “your” sense of humor, but keep it appropriate in content and use only at the appropriate times. You’re good at all sorts of things but it’s helpful for people to understand you are human and a little humor can go a long way to show that you’re not just a really great resume.
Following through means making yourself vulnerable – do it the right way and on the right channels for you. Your personal brand resides in your physical interactions with people as well as your electronic ones. Mold your expression and sharing to the audience. On LinkedIn, you’ll want to be engaging but professional (let’s keep MOST of the jokes to yourself). In-person, at that wedding at Voodoo Donuts, don’t be afraid to tell that “dad” joke (or 10). Just do SOMETHING. It will be scary but once it is over it will feel as sweet as that maple bar tasted.
Ask for feedback from peers you trust. The issue here is that, as an introvert/ambivert, asking for feedback can be nearly as painful as putting your stuff out there in the first place. You are now ACTIVELY asking to be judged. Everyone has that one friend that they trust 100% – reach out to that one. Ask for feedback on your brand as you’ve presented it. Make changes and, when you think you have it in an even better place, find the next trusted friends on your roster and ask them. Rinse and repeat until you feel a rise in confidence, that’s how you’ll know you are moving down the path.
Get a mentor – either an ambivert who is a little bit more extroverted than you or someone who has both feet firmly planted in Extrovertville. They’ll know how to do all of this – even if you aren’t ready to yet. Ask them to gently push you.
5. Be there for others
Be honest about who you are, and others will thank you – you’re not the only one with these hurdles and challenges and you can really help others by modeling behavior that might help them overcome the same things. How about writing a blog post about being an introvert/ambivert and the challenges of personal branding as one?
OFFER to mentor. You’re now fully ‘in the game’ as an introvert/ambivert and it’s time for you to learn all over again by teaching. Mentor someone who is like you and see what that can do for their confidence.
It’s going to be tough and uncomfortable. Maybe even painful. You might have to do all these pieces over months and years vs. days and weeks. When you finish doesn’t really matter. In fact, you’ll NEVER finish. What’s imperative is that you start and then monitor how you’re doing with any number of tools used to monitor someone’s Personal Brand.
Put down that maple bar. Pick up that brand. Dust it off and let it shine.
Thanks for reading.
Nathan Pfeifer – Digital Marketing Specialist at Delightful