What's the difference between an introvert and a shy person? In a fantastic post on Social Media Today, Minter Dial, president of The Myndset Company, and Noam Kostucki, a professional speaker, coach and consultant, explain the difference--and why it matters for your personal branding efforts. 

"Shyness is a learned behavior of discomfort and anxieties," they write. "Introversion is a trait whereby people recharge and gain energy through 'alone time.'"

You can imagine what a difference this makes when it comes to self-promotion via social media. A shy person might feel embarrassed by the act of Tweeting. A shy person might worry to the point of inaction about what others think.

By contrast, an introvert wouldn't necessary feel that way--she'd just want to balance all of that visible public effort with doses of solitude and serene social settings. Dorie Clark, a personal branding expert and the author of Reinventing You, tells Dial and Kostucki that when it comes to self-promotion, she's learned to play to her strengths as an introvert. "It's important to understand what energizes you--and what doesn't," she explained to me in an email.

For example, Clark used to force herself to attend pre-conference cocktail receptions. "They sound like a good idea, but often they're held in noisy bars and people were screaming to be heard, defeating the purpose of networking," she continues. "Midway through one earlier this summer, I decided to walk out and leave. It felt incredibly liberating and I realized I'd never go to one again."

Instead, Clark now organizes dinner parties to meet people that she wants to network with--for example, other business authors. Compared to pre-conference receptions, these parties feel manageable and comfortable. "It's quiet, intimate, and you get to really know people instead of awkwardly approaching strangers and making ridiculous small talk for three minutes," she adds. 

If you're introverted, you too can boost your personal brand by creating your own comfortable, do-it-yourself networking gatherings. And if you're shy? Dial and Kostucki suggest that, as a first step, you take a deep dive of self-exploration. The goal? Figure out exactly what you're shy about. "For example, if you are shy about your appearance, you wouldn't want to start with selfies or a video blog," they write. "You might rather focus on writing and curating content."

They then provids a fantastic checklist you can use to gauge your "specific zones of discomfort." It includes: 

  • Your voice.
  • Your appearance. 
  • Eye contact.
  • Colleagues. 
  • Strangers.
  • Your aspirations.
  • Your values. 

Of course, the idea is also to figure out what you're not shy about. Perhaps it's easy for you to Tweet about your favorite football team or your favorite television program. Those comfort zones can give you a place to start, when it comes to personal branding.

Overall, the idea is to be true to yourself--even in acts of self-promotion. "A good personal brand reflects who you are in the best possible light," they assert. "The process of building your personal brand takes place without losing your integrity or corrupting your core values."