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8 ways for introverts to find their social media mojo

Do you hate going to parties? If phrases like networking event, elevator pitch and off-site social bring you out in a cold sweat, you’re probably an introvert? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Susan Cain, TED Talker and best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, says that "Depending on which study you consult, one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts".

What about social media? Are the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter stages on which you can perform with confidence, where you can interact socially, or do business? Or are they just as nerve-wracking as ‘in real life’ (IRL)?

So, if joining a Google Hangout is almost as scary as a first date, here are 8 tips for how to win at social media if you’re an introvert.


1. Feel the fear and do it anyway

‘Closet introvert’ Heidi Cohen calls social media ‘an introvert’s paradise’. But to some it seem like hell. Is it actually an extrovert’s paradise? Look at me! Aren’t I amazing? Look at my duckface! Does the deafening noise of small-talk, show-off selfies and aggrandising status updates make it even harder for the introvert to be heard? It could be argued that the social media stage is even scarier, even more pressured, even more damning than real life, when happiness hangs on the number of likes and shares. But hey, if you make a mistake, if no-one laughs at your joke, if no-one RTs your post, at least no-one can see when you go red with embarrassment, no-one can see your tears.

2. Be a social media extrovert

But I’m an introvert, how can I possibly be an extrovert? Even if you would never, ever get up on stage to do karaoke, in the social media world you can express yourself however you wish. Take it slowly - start with a pseudonym and an avatar. It’s like that mask behind which an actor may be a mess, a pop star a fragile recluse (Lady Gaga is a famous introvert). It’s actually quite common for people to be what Mack Collier describes as ‘online extrovert, offline introvert’. He says: “For me, it’s much easier to be online than it is offline. That’s why I love social media so much.”

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3. But not too much of an extrovert

Collier recognises the risk of opening up a gap between one’s on- and offline personas. He admits: “People I meet offline expect me to be extroverted. And I’m always more reserved, so I can give some people the wrong impression that I am stuck-up, or not interested in talking to them”. It may be the case that you make a business contact through social media and take your conversation offline. When it comes to that first face-to-face, be it on Lync or over coffee, you’ll revert to your old introverted self. Will you suddenly be able to give a firm handshake and crack a joke? But, like practising a presentation in the mirror, acting the extrovert online will stand you in good stead for real life, and even cure your offline introversion. If so, great - see you at the next speed networking event!

4. Be yourself

When they’re handing out business cards, working the room at an after-hours social, the extrovert can slip on that mask, flash a cheesy smile. The introvert cannot. But in social media, self-expression is more important than this self-promotion. Susan Cain advocates ‘authenticity over showmanship’ and that social media is the ideal place to demonstrate this. She says:

“Blogging and tweeting don't require the in-person social multi-tasking that many people find so exhausting”.

So leave the flesh-pressing to the schmoozers and spend your time and energy showcasing your creative, strategic strengths in social media instead.

5. Brand yourself

While you might struggle to make your mark in an offline world which seems to reward those who talk the talk and play the game, the introverts can play their own, more intelligent, game using social media. Build up yourself as a brand by associating yourself with brands and people that you respect and who reflect well on you if people see that you follow them.

Of course, be professional - sometime you’ve got to come out from behind that avatar. Xenia1987 won’t look great on LinkedIn. Start a blog, set up a Twitter account. Say: “This is me, look what I do; I’m pretty good, aren’t I?” CEOs of massively-successful companies can conversely be the most introverted people (it may be a surprise that 70 percent of the world’s CEOs describe themselves as introverts) but they express their identity, while reflecting and promoting the values of their brand, through their own ‘personal’ blog. Check out both Lisa Petrilli's and Max Schireson's blogs.

6. Maximise your downtime

While your colleagues are out bowling or having a few beers, sorry, ‘networking’ after a conference, the introvert should use the time in wiser fashion. Strategy consultant Dorie Clark advises: “You can ensure you’re being productive while you recharge by reading industry journals or thinking creatively about your company and your career”. You don’t have to be poring over the latest marketing strategy manual – follow the appropriate thinkers and relevant conversations on Twitter; then engage, post an intelligent comment and get your own interactions going. You may make much better contacts through your social media activity and, unlike your extrovert colleagues, you won’t have a hangover in the morning.

7. Make it your business

James Sun and Ben Liu, co-founders of ‘social network for introverts’, Anomo, originally conceived it as ‘a dating app for the painfully shy’. Its success (four million posts on its main message board in its first year) not only shows that there are loads of introverts out there who want like to engage with social media on a deeper level than retweeting photos of kittens or Instagramming their breakfast, but also (cold-heartedly!), that they represent a potential market for business. So, if cold-calling clients isn’t in your skillset, you could use your strategic social media skills to beat those extroverts to the sale.

8. Go to the party

For the introvert, the only way to deal with a party full of outgoing (and no doubt younger, cooler and more beautiful) people is to sink several gin and tonics while you have a what-to-wear crisis. Even then you might suffer a devastating crisis of confidence. But what’s more important: small talk or big ideas? In the social media world no-one will know what you’re wearing. What matters is what you say, what you stand for. Expressing yourself is easier in a carefully–composed Tweet or blog post than a slurred address to an audience of cocktail-clutching partygoers. So, come on, get on those glad rags on and get social!

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