An Introvert in the Extroverted World of PR

IMG_2381 (1)I am unquestionably an introvert. I love people, and I love being around people… until it’s time to recharge. Then, I need to be alone. With a good book, hiking the trail near my home, or simply laying down and staring at the ceiling fan. I need to be quiet, turn my focus inward and regroup. Afterwards, I’m ready to be around people again.

My introversion shows up in other ways, too – especially within the context of working at a PR agency. I always knew I tended to be quiet in meetings – especially meetings that required a lot of brainstorming with a bunch of gregarious folks. My best ideas come when I can study whatever background information may be available and thoughtfully formulate – away from noise and distraction – one or more potential strategies. I’ve also never loved networking at cocktail parties and happy hours. The idea of trying to develop and nurture new business leads in such a scenario is even worse. I much prefer occasions with small groups of friends or acquaintances. Give me a coffee meeting with a warm new business lead any day over having to navigate a room full of potential clients I’ve never met. I didn’t always tie these traits back to being an introvert, though. I just figured they were shortcomings I needed to somehow fix. Until someone turned me on to Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’ve been listening to it on Audible and have been thrilled to learn that a) a lot of really smart, successful people are introverts, and b) the traits that make me an introvert can actually be assets in the business world.

So, imagine my delight when I saw the recent Ragan’s Daily article, “Ways introverts can succeed in PR.” Beth Mayer, the article’s author has also read Cain’s book and cites a number of strengths introverts bring to the PR table, including the tendency to:

  • Listen and think before you speak
  • Embrace the calm in a crisis situation
  • Choose quality over quantity when it comes to media outreach (i.e., identifying and focusing on a few, targeted reporters when pitching a story idea vs. blasting out a press release)
  • Be prepared

The last two in particular really resonated with me. When it comes to choosing quality over quantity, Beth goes on to talk about how introverts tend to prefer close relationships with a smaller number of people over a large number of casual connections. My virtual Rolodex may not have the largest number of contacts in it, but it does contain some really solid connections – whether you’re talking about media contacts, past and current clients, or contacts made through participation in programs like the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Leadership Program.

I also know how vital it is for me to feel prepared going into a meeting or presentation. I’m not one who can “wing it” well. However, if I can take the time to read through available background materials, familiarize myself with the topic and players involved, and jot down some thoughts/ideas ahead of time, it makes all the difference.

Are you an introvert in an extroverted business world? If so, I’d love to hear how you’ve made your more introverted tendencies work for you!

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