7 Ways Introverts Can Stand in the Spotlight Without Pretending to Be Extroverts
Do these two words seem like a contradiction: visibility and introverts?
They’re not. Being in the spotlight might not come intuitively or easily for an introvert, but that doesn’t mean that some introverts don’t crave it, desire it, or even require it in order to live into their purpose.
In many ways, it’s easier for an introvert to be in the spotlight than to be part of the crowd.
(I’ve heard this from clients and colleagues over and over again, and I’ve experienced it myself.)
By “visibility,” I don’t mean paparazzi outside your door or people tracking you down for an autograph. And I don’t even mean being recognized by strangers when you walk down the street. It’s about being visible—seen, heard, and known—in service to your message and purpose.
For the introvert, it can become a tug of war: Look at me! No, don’t look at me! How can we be seen, heard, and known while still being true to our introvert nature?
It helps to remember the basic definition of introversion: It’s an energy that requires solitude and low stimulation environments in order to recharge. On the other end of the spectrum, extroversion requires social interaction and higher stimulation environments to recharge. As an introvert, my default is set to Prefers to spend ample time alone or in small groups, without interruptions or distractions. When I have enough time in my happy place, it allows me to be visible and social with more energy and enjoyment.
This understanding is key to my visibility strategy, and I suspect it’s key to yours, too.
Whether your intention is to be more visible in a crowded market place or an extrovert-leaning work environment, here are seven simple, introvert-friendly strategies to consider:
1. Arrive Early, Speak Up Quickly
Whether it’s a networking event or team meeting, avoid the temptation to slip in at the last minute, or to be fashionably late. Arrive early and connect with people one-on-one, while there are fewer distractions and competing conversations. This helps you to establish your presence, and you will be noticed by others more.
Speaking up early is similar to breaking the ice; You put your energy into the room and make it easier to speak up again later on. And even if you don’t, at least you’ve gotten it out of the way! Ask a question, make an introduction, offer a resource, clarify a point, make a joke—whatever establishes you in the space and connects you with others.
2. Fine-Tune Your Public Speaking Skills
As I mentioned above, an introvert often shines when behind the microphone. Why? Because we’ve been given the floor (instead of having to fight for it). We’re positioned as an expert. We’ve had a chance to prepare (we hope). We have everyone’s attention (again, we hope!). Our time in the spotlight has a beginning, middle, and end, and our purpose is clear. For many of us, we’d much rather be the speaker at a networking event than be an attendee. Focus on delivering solid content, and visibility follows.
3. Let Color Do Your Extroverting for You
Sometimes, it’s the little things. I just had coffee with an introverted colleague who related a story about the first time she went to an industry convention. She knew her peers would all be in black suits, so she wore all white. There’s no doubt she stood out and drew people to her. She said the attention was a bit overwhelming, and she’s not sure she would go that far again.
But we agreed that wearing a bright or unexpected color or accessory (necklace, tie, scarf, shoes) can increase your visibility (perhaps becoming part of your brand) and draw people to you without expending a lot of personal energy. It’s through these types of light—even trivial—interactions that people begin to see, hear, and know you.
4. Show Up Through Other People
Think of the people with whom you have a mutual champion relationship. You advocate for one another. By connecting with a few key people who have you in mind as they connect with others, you’re visible by association. Instead of working to make sure 1,000 people know you, find the 10 that each know 10 others who would be interested in what you do. They’re not selling for you; they act as referral and resource partners, and visibility happens organically and on a personal level. Nurturing a champion relationship with one connected person at a time is more energy efficient and strategic than focusing on the masses.
5. Show Up Through Other People, Part Two
Just as having champions can increase your reach, so can contributing to their platforms. Being interviewed for a popular podcast, guest posting on a high-traffic blog, even regularly commenting on and sharing posts from high-profile sites will all lead to more visibility in a natural, unforced way.
Of course, be strategic: Choose sites that attract the audiences you want to reach. And focus on showing up with the intention of providing strong content and support for your peers. There’s no need to be self-promotional. Offering valuable, practical information is the best promotional tool in your toolbox.
6. Be Crystal Clear on Your Brand
If you own your own business, have a clear niche and a memorable way of describing it. Visibility is an outgrowth of differentiation. And differentiation does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to being seen, heard, and known. If you’re in a company, determine your role on the team and establish yourself as the go-to person for that area of expertise or particular skill. Seek out opportunities on committees and projects to reinforce your brand so that you stand out (in a good way!).
7. Lead With Your Strengths
Are you a great writer? Do you come up with pithy, clever tweets that people love? Is your gift telling stories? Trust in your strengths and lead with them. Not only will people notice, but you’ll also find you have more energy by using a platform or communication method that plays to your strengths. In my case, I love to interview people, so podcastingis a natural fit for me and my introvert energy (it’s one-on-one, short, and I can prepare my thoughts in advance but still feel challenged by the unexpected twists and turns in the conversation). When you’re aligned with your strengths and lead with them, your message will resonate with others and naturally increase your visibility.
The Bottom Line
Create a strategy for yourself that is based on being seen, heard, and known by the people who would benefit most from your offerings. And create that strategy in such a way that honors and is in sync with your introvert energy. Being successful doesn’t require that you shout from the rooftops or throw yourself at people. You don’t even have to fake being an extrovert. The people who shine are those who create visibility in a way that aligns with their values and strengths.
Learn more ways to increase your visibility, introvert style, in The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms.
This article was originally published on Medium by Beth Buelow. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of networking event courtesy of Tom Merton/Getty Images.
Beth Buelow, PCC, is an author, speaker, podcaster, and certified professional coach. She serves as a guide to introvert entrepreneurs who want to build businesses that align with their energy and personality. Beth is the author of The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms.More from this Author