When we imagine successful and prominent business people, we expect them to have extroverted personalities. We assume that they are the life of the party, who chats up every person and charms every business partner they meet.
Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of hosting many top industry leaders on The Influencers Podcast and it continuously surprises me how few of them fit into this mold. In reality, many of the most famous and successful people in the world are introverted, more than you might expect.
1. Don't assume you know a person based on their public appearances.
Our culture values extroversion, so many people assume that they need to be extroverted to be successful. In the public eye, entertainers and notable figures often seem extroverted. You may see a music performer get on stage in front of thousands of people or an actor perform in a sold out theater every week. It doesn't mean that they feel comfortable in crowds or social gatherings. We shouldn't expect them to either.
According to Susan Cain, an estimated one-third to one-half of the population are introverts, so it would make sense that some famous personalities are among that segment. It doesn't necessarily mean that they are shy or quiet. Many are talkative and outgoing at times but can get overstimulated in social situations. They value time alone to reflect and recharge.
2. Don't force yourself to be someone you're not.
Being an introvert doesn't prevent your success. Being an extrovert doesn't guarantee it.
If you're better at connecting one-on-one or in small groups, leverage that. In fact, as an introvert, you may be able to create deeper more meaningful relationships than the traditional social butterfly who bounces from conversation to conversation. If this is your skill, use it to your advantage.
Note: Being an introvert does not give you an excuse to not put yourself out there and meet new people.
3. Connect with people in ways that work for them.
It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that what we like is what others enjoy. You would be astonished by how many of the top minds and public figures have debilitating social anxiety, and would rather spend their evenings at home with their pets and a good book than in front of the cameras and crowds on the red carpet.
This might mean you should go to coffee, or enjoy a run with them rather than invite them to a party. Find out what meeting environment works best for the person you want to meet.
There is nothing wrong with being introverted, or extroverted for that matter. The key is to understand what works for you and the people with whom you want to connect. Be true to yourself. If you try to be someone you're not, you'll just tire yourself out.