So, while on vacation last week, I needed something to read. I’d seen this book online a while back and, recently, someone else reinforced my interest in it by recommending it to me out of the blue. Unfortunately, it was not available on Kindle. Still, my interest in networking and marketing for introverts was piqued.
My networking preference.
Like many other writers I’ve met, I am extremely introverted. Yet a majority of the advice you see for writers is: “sell yourself,” “get your name everywhere,” “network,” and just plain “get out there.” And for someone like me? I’d rather have a root canal than go to events, mingle, and force smalltalk with strangers. It’s draining. And yet I feel obligated, forced, to do it if I want to get anywhere with my writing.
Perusing the Amazon Kindle store, I found this:
I think this was written just for me.
In the sample I read, Devora Zack says: “Introverts, the overwhelmed, and the underconnected fail at traditional networking by following advice never intended for us in the first place. […] Standard networking advice fails you, so you assume you fail at networking.”
I was hooked and shelled out the $8.95 to download the rest. As I read, I seriously felt like she was speaking directly to me, like she wrote this for my eyes only. She said that people also told her reassuringly that “Oh, no, you’re not introverted!” (as if it were an insult) because she speaks so well in front of people, etc.
I have had people – kind, well-meaning, but misguided people – reassure me that “you’re getting better” when it comes to my introversion because I speak comfortably to crowds (I even *gasp* do karaoke). But guess what? That’s not introversion! Ms. Zack addresses this, stating: “Introverts are entirely capable of being skilled public speakers. In fact, introverts prefer clearly defined roles and so may be more comfortable leading a discussion than participating in one. Many introverts are more at ease in front of a group than roaming aimlessly through a cocktail party.” Honestly? I nearly wept with relief at this (and many other statements she made). I’ve never felt so understood. In fact, here’s another quote that made me laugh:
“Q: Why do extroverts have voice mail?
A: To never miss a call.
Q: Why do introverts have voice mail?
A: To never answer the phone.”
Oh, GOD, it’s so true.
Though you really should check them now and then.
I don’t need to “get over” my introversion as if it were some kind of social handicap. Because it’s not. The book teaches that introverts are reflective (think to talk) to extroverts’ verbal (talk to think); we’re focused (go deep) to extroverts’ expansiveness (go wide); and we energize alone (self-reliant) to their energizing with others (social). There’s nothing wrong with either side. There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with me. I just need to use my strengths. Why force myself to do something I hate in order to “compete” with people who do that same thing as naturally as breathing? Shouldn’t I use my own methods and what works better for me?
Because networking is not about being a “social butterfly”; it’s about making connections. I, like all introverts, make deeper, more meaningful connections (the “focused” aspect above). It’s extremely draining for me to meet a gazillion people because I unconsciously want to make deep connections with them all. For events such as the Las Vegas Writers Conference that I attended in April (and will be attending again next April), I prefer to research ahead of time and decide on the direction I’m taking, what discussions I want to hear, who I want to meet, etc. Guess what? This method works! I did indeed find a publisher interested in reading my sample chapters.
And secretly, I did feel there was something wrong with me because I needed time alone before and after social events. But it turns out that’s the introvert’s way of re-energizing. In fact, I probably don’t do it enough.
There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to “get over it.” Introversion has its own strengths and we can learn to use them.