The Introvert’s Guide To Becoming An Influencer
Your ability to make a difference isn’t tied to your Myers Briggs. It’s tied to your ability to use natural strengths to influence others. Learn how introversion can be used as an advantage when developing influence, plus a few practical tips for introverts who want to become influencers.
If you’re an introvert, you can be an influencer, too.
“Your grade in this class is based on participation.”
“Let’s walk around the room and I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
“I’m having so much fun at this party. Can we stay a little longer?”
If you’re an introvert, these moments are your worst nightmare. Of the two personality types — introvert and extrovert — research tells us that introverts are the minority in the U.S. So extroverts dominate the conversation and they dominate the demographics, making up anywhere from 50 to 75% of the population.
The prevailing narrative tells us that those “social butterflies” extroverts hold a monopoly on the ability to influence. With all due respect to extroverts, that narrative needs to change. Introverts are influencers too.
This article will teach introverts how their introversion can be used as an advantage when developing influence, plus a few practical tips for introverts who want to become influencers.
“The Introvert Advantage” in 6 Personality Traits
Abe Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Mahatma Gandhi, and Steve Jobs all have one thing in common.
No, they weren’t all introverts. And they weren’t all extroverts either.
They were all influencers. What makes someone influential isn’t determined by their score on the Myers Briggs. It’s their ability to be self-aware and use those traits to their advantage. For introverts, this can be summed up in 6 unique traits.
#1. Introverts Have Impeccable Listening Skills
The words you speak as an introvert carry a lot of weight. You speak with intent, and when you speak it’s only after carefully listening to the other people in the conversation.
You actively listen to what the speaker is saying without fretting about giving an immediate response. Whereas extroverts play the back-and-forth game in conversation, introverts prefer to process what other people say and respond on their own timing.
Listening like this allows you to develop deep, authentic relationships with people. You develop strong connections and people know they can trust you.
Trustworthy figures are more capable of influencing others, and since you diligently choose your words, the words you DO speak carry much more weight than those of your extroverted counterparts.
#2. Introvert = Empathic
“Empathy and understanding must precede advice.”
John Gottman’s quote speaks right to the core of what successful influencers do. Influencers understand people and empathize with them first. They speak wisdom and expertise second.
This skill comes naturally to introverts. As an introvert you’re constantly taking in data. You’re observing. You’re listening. You’re picking up on subtle hints. You’re paying attention to others, and it actually shocks them! Others are surprised by how well you understand their needs, desires, fears, joys, and dreams.
As a result, people associate positively with you and consider you a trustworthy figure. They essentially give you their trust. You never have to ask for it because you’ve earned it organically.
It goes beyond trust. You’ve now earned their attention. That’s the perfect recipe for creating massive influence.
Introverts work best when they work autonomously and at their own pace. If you’re an introvert, you love and enjoy the feeling of being completely immersed in your work. You’re in your zone and you’re happy.
The corollary to autonomy? You know how to motivate yourself and you devote more of your concentration to big tasks or projects.
Because you’re not afraid of your independence, you embrace it. It means taking a step back from the social energy of a hard day’s work to regain your vigor. You read a book. You go for a walk. You spend quality time with yourself and in your thoughts.
These times of independence provide clarity and move you into a deeper state of thought. You’re able to tap into internal insights in this reflective state. The wisdom you gain in periods of independent introspection lay the foundation of your influence.
Authenticity plays off of independence. Introverts are more likely to be in tune with themselves because they value alone time.
You know yourself on a level that most others don’t. You know your past experiences. You know about your future dreams. You see the big picture and it keeps you grounded in reality. As a result, you know your place in society.
What role do you play in your community, family, volunteer organization, and company? Introverts understand their role and live authentically through it.
The most successful leaders in history didn’t achieve success by copying the personalities of others. They followed their internal compass and stayed true to their true, genuine self.
How can you lead authentically if you don’t know yourself? You can’t. Real influencers exhibit authenticity. Introverts know themselves and have the unique ability to influence others in the most authentic way possible.
#5. Introverts Are Keen Observers
Recent research uncovered an interesting trend among introverts and extroverts. It suggested that extroverts naturally miss the same details that introverts naturally notice. So introverts — congrats! — you are the masters of detail. Generally speaking…
You can gather a lot of information about someone or something after a brief conversation. You’re not only in tune with yourself. You’re in tune with your surroundings. That’s a dynamic duo. As an introvert you observe your surroundings and use your keen observations to plan and execute major decisions.
It allows you to make smart, wise decisions. Your decisions, like your words, carry weight. You say what you mean and you do what you say. That’s the type of power that attracts respectful attention. As an introvert you can develop your influence by channeling that attention to your advantage.
Bonus strength: keen observers notice the little things. You take time to smell the roses because you’re mindful. You make the world a better place to live, one little rose at a time.
#6. Calming Presence
If introverts had a perfume, they’d name it Serenity. You exude tranquility and composure even in moments of stress.
You’re the person remaining calm when…
… a client sends you a nasty email during a family vacation.
…your best employee quits unexpectedly.
…a deadline or success metric becomes unattainable.
…you’re speaking at an event that could potentially bring tons of new business to your company.
You stay calm because you value internal stability more than external stability. Regardless of the storm of emotions happening outside, your inner dialogue speaks calmness.
Your inner dialogue keeps you sane, and your sanity rubs off on those around you. Others can expect a breath of serenity when they spend time with you. As a result, they enjoy being near you. You can use this bond to your advantage as an influencer. Why? Because people naturally want to be within your circle of reach. They want to consume your content.
They want to be influenced by you without realizing it.
Show Time: Influencer Tactics for Introverts
Understanding the Introvert Advantage is the best strategy starting-point for introverts seeking to develop their influence.
But what about some practical tips to implement today that will help grow your influence as an introvert? Here are 5 tactics that you can take away from this article to start growing your circle of influence as soon as you finish reading them:
Avoid any future anxiety-inducing situations with some good old fashion preparation.
(That’s why “Triumph: Prepare your best“ is one of our core values.)
Preparation is key for all types of people but especially introverts who work well with structured, well thought out plans. Quality prep takes the guesswork out of what to say or how to say it. No improv needed.
Second: Show Up
When you prepare your best, you also show up your best. Introverts know how to cultivate mindfulness, so carry that mindfulness with you when you meet a prospective client for dinner, give a presentation at a conference, or celebrate the holidays with your employees. These are normally higher-anxiety moments. By taking time to prepare for them, you can consciously give yourself permission to stay mindful and present because you know you have a plan.
Third: Spend Time Outside Your Comfort Zone
Do one small thing every week to get outside your comfort zone. Try taking a public speaking class. Sign up as the lead volunteer with a local nonprofit. Say yes to happy hour. Challenge yourself by trying something new.
You might find that you actually enjoy a new hobby all while finding new ways to grow your network and influence.
Fourth: Spend Time Inside Your Comfort Zone
Retreat back to serenity and calm to find your focus and regain energy. If you know you have a people-centric day, build in 15 minutes of alone time to recharge.
Maybe it means driving yourself to an event to get in your headspace. Maybe it means leaving a conference early to avoid the inevitable small talk afterward. Whatever it is, do not cause undue stress on yourself by thinking you need to be the extrovert that you’re not.
Fifth: Socialize With A Quota System
It’s no secret that you grow your network and influence by socializing, but for introverts this seems like an exhaustive chore. It doesn’t have to be if you socialize with a quota system.
Instead of just showing up to a networking event, give yourself the “all clear” to leave after 1 hour. Instead of just saying yes to dinners, say yes to only 3 dinners a month. Set a social quota for yourself and use the quota to protect from burnout. Once you reach your unique quota, consider it done and get back to that book you were reading before you left.
Bonus: Socialization doesn’t have to be face-to-face. Take it online. (Actually, you NEED to take it online!) If you’re not showing up and socializing on the internet now, start building your digital presence by joining interest groups across several different social media accounts. Engage with others in your industry, gather intel about your niche, and grow your network…all from the comfort of your couch.
Influencers lead by focusing less on being KNOWN and more on MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
They make a difference by being externally informed and internally aware. Influencers are the trusted source of information within their niche.
They make a difference by innovating new ideas and turning them into reality. Influencers inspire others to create positive change.
Your ability to make a difference isn’t tied to your Myers Briggs. It’s tied to your ability to use natural strengths to influence others.
As history has proven (time and time again), introverts have the ability to be wildly effective influencers when they’re dialed into their strengths.
Are you ready to dial into yours?
What skills do introverts have?
Introverts are known for their impeccable listening skills, empathy, independence, authenticity, and calm presence. Introverts are also keen oberservers.
What makes someone an influencer?
An influencer is someone who has the ability to persuade the behavior of others. Influencers leverage content distributed through public mediums (social media, blogs, etc) to communicate and influence their audiences.
Was Martin Luther King, Jr. an introvert?
MLK, Jr. described himself as half-introvert, half-extrovert. Just like Abraham Lincoln and Margaret Thatcher, MLK was undoubtedly an influencer in his ability to spread ideas.