The coaching industry seems to be full of extroverts who really know how to shine in the light. This makes us wonder, what is an introverted coach to do?
How do they survive running a business which is very well-known to be an extraverted marathon?
How are introverted coaches supposed to deal with networking events full of people?
How are they supposed to sell themselves, market themselves and generally put themselves out there when the mere thought of doing so makes them a bit squeamish?
While this may seem like a daunting task for the introverted coach, and while perhaps they may have to work a little bit harder to overcome some obstacles, it doesn’t have to be excruciatingly difficult.
In this article we’re going to lay out exactly what it is you need to do to survive as an introverted coach.
The first place to start is to actually define what an introverted coach is.
A quick Google search will tell you that an introvert is someone who is generally shy or reticent, meaning you don’t really share your thoughts or feelings readily.
It’s a temperament, which is a person’s nature, especially when it comes to how that person behaves.
Here’s where it gets tricky though. Most introverts don’t fit the stereotype of being the wall flower at a party.
In fact, introverts can sometimes be very hard to spot. Many people who may seem extraverted may actually possess several introverted tendencies which can make it difficult to run some aspects of their coaching business, but not others.
Most people who are introverts also aren’t even aware of it because they don’t fit the “shy” stereotype.
Here are some other signs that you may be an introverted coach and possibly not even know it:
- Speaking in front of a crowd is much easier than having to mingle with them individually.
- You go to a party and would rather hang out with people you already know rather than meet someone new.
- Networking makes your skin crawl because you feel fake.
- Most introverts carefully think about what they are going to say before they actually say it.
- You’ve been called an “old soul” even when you were very young.
- You have a natural ability to communicate in writing.
- You alternate between phases of solitude and a jam packed social calendar.
- When you go to a conference and feel like you need three days alone after it’s over.
- If you feel like the energy has been sucked right out of you after a day of dealing with people.
So at the end of the day, many introverts can pass as extraverts.
Even coaches who seem to be putting themselves way out there and gracing stages can actually be introverts themselves.
This begs the question, why is there so much confusion about what is is to be an introvert?
Simply because as a society we tend to focus on only the social aspect of being introverted instead of what makes up the temperament as a whole.
In other words, by assuming that introverts are always just shy we’re only focusing on one piece of a very big puzzle.
Furthermore, you could be an extraverted personality and still have a couple of introverted tendencies. This doesn’t make you an introvert, but it’s still important to pay attention to.
Now that we’ve clarified what constitutes and introverted coach we can begin to talk about how you can survive in a seemingly very extraverted field.
1. Embrace your gifts as an introverted coach.
As an introverted coach you will have certain gifts that extraverts don’t. According to The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World these gifts include but are not limited to:
- Work well with other people, especially in a one-on-one capacity
- Maintain Long-Term relationships
- Ability to concentrate
- Finds creative solutions to problems
- Very good analytical skills; handles complexities well and can strategize easily
- Studious and smart
These are all skills that you need if you want to be a good coach. Period. Point blank.
You need to be able to cultivate long term relationships and work well with others.
If you offer private coaching then you need to be able to work one on one.
You need to be responsible, creative, independent and flexible when running your own practice.
Introverts are also incredibly observant and detail oriented. A skill that is necessary when you’re actively listening to your clients.
So, in actuality, being an introverted coach is actually a major advantage in this line of work.
As a result, you should embrace these gifts.
Introverts tend to learn very early on that their gifts aren’t valued in a mostly extraverted world.
As a result they learn to overcompensate and force extraverted tendencies from a very young age.
They grow up believing that being an introvert is a hinderance, instead of a gift.
Granted, it wasn’t until relatively recently when the idea that being an introvert is actually a good thing started coming to light, and there are still a lot of societal pressures that would have an introverted coach think that there is something wrong with them.
However, as a coach, you already know that this is just a story like any other.
You have all the power in the world to reframe this story and claim your gifts as an introverted coach.
The reality is that you don’t have to change your temperament in order to be successful. In fact, changing your temperament would probably hinder your success rather than help it.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that you are allowed to step out of character.
In many cases stepping out of your nature may be required of you as you build your coaching practice.
However, as psychologist Brian Little states, do it mindfully for the sake of work that you are actually passionate about.
And when you’re done acting out of character, such as filming a video or giving a speech, make sure to go into your own space where you can decompress.
Little goes on to say that this comes from a place of being entitled to taking that space for yourself.
So go ahead, embrace your gifts and then create the solitude you are entitled to after acting out of your introverted nature.
2. Networking as an introverted coach.
In her book, Quiet, Susan Cain outlines some key things to keep in mind when you’re networking as an introverted.
(Quite frankly this book should be in the library of every introverted coach out there.)
One key principle she mentions in this interview is that while there may be a tendency to think you need to “work a room” when networking, there really is no one size fits all formula that works for everyone.
So the first step is to really embrace the fact that you can network any way that you want.
There is no need to work a room.
There is no need to walk out with a million business cards.
There is no need to force yourself into conversations.
Once you’ve got that sorted out there are some very practical tips you can keep in mind when networking as an introverted coach.
Create a quota system for networking events.
One of the worst things an introverted coach has to deal with is to make a decision as to whether or not they want to go to an event. Because of societal pressures around business and networking they may feel the need to go to every event they can find in order to be successful.
However, there is a very real struggle for introverts between going to an event and staying in to work on their next offering for the world. This is where Susan Cain recommends establishing a quota system for networking events. That is to say, you establish a set number of networking events to attend each month. After you reach that quota you no longer have to say yes to networking invitations. This relieves some pressure and takes the burden out of having to make a decision that may go against your nature. It also removes any guilt that may be associated with not going to an event.
Go through the world looking for kindred spirits.
Rather than going to an event to “work a room” Susan Cain suggests looking for kindred spirits.
Go to events not with the purpose of getting business cards, but with the purpose of meeting people who are like you and share the same interests. Over time it’s not even like you’re networking, you just have friends.
Remember the power of one.
Susan Cain suggests going to events with the intention of meeting just one new person. This takes the pressure off of having to put yourself out there and eradicates the guilt associated with introverts who try to network.
Try a conversation starter.
This particular tip may not be from Susan Cain, but it works wonders for introverts. Introverted coaches may have a naturally observant and inquisitive nature. As such they may find comfort in going to networking events asking questions. For example, if you’re looking for content for your blog you may consider asking event attendees a question related to a blog topic for research. This paves the way for a natural conversation instead of forcing one to happen. At this point you can use your introverted ability to create a lasting friendship.
Networking ultimately doesn’t have to be the nail biting experience that an introverted coach may usually experience. By putting systems in place like a monthly quota and attending the event with the intention of meeting just one new person, it can totally change the way an introvert networks for good.
3. Speaking as an introverted coach.
One incredibly effective way to get new coaching clients is to either speak at events or put on your own engagements. This could potentially be an introverted coach’s worst nightmare. You may have a crippling fear of speaking in front of a crowd of people.
Or, as is the case with some introverts, you may completely fine with speaking in front of hundreds but having to mingle with them afterward makes your skin crawl. Unfortunately, speaking is a part of the game in this field. The good news is that as an introverted coach you most probably already have a natural ability for communication and connection
Susan Cain has some fantastic tips for this area as well.
Realize that people want you to succeed.
There are very few people in the world who want you to do poorly.
In The Gift of Change Marianne Williamson puts it perfectly when she writes:
“If you want a miracle you have to consciously claim it. And for every person out there who asks, ‘How dare you?‘ there are at least two more who will say ‘Thank you for showing me how.’”
People want you to succeed. Just like a potential employer wants a job candidate to succeed so that they can stop looking, so do participants listening to your speech.
The only difference is rather than them having to stop looking for someone to fill a job, they will be happy to stop looking for a solution to their problems – a solution that you provide for them through your speaking.
So, in actuality, you must remember that for the most part people want you to do well. Those that don’t are the exception to the rule.
Train yourself to look for the good.
To further expand upon the last point, Susan Cain recommends training yourself to look for the people in the room who look engaged and happy to be there. She points out that there will always be those individuals who get bored and fall asleep.
Nervous people seem to look for those individuals and then get discouraged even further. So instead, she encourages introverts to start looking for the happy people in the room. It will boost your confidence and help you connect.
When it comes to stepping out of character as an introverted coach Susan Cain says you can’t do it all at once.
Instead, start small.
Speak to a couple of people. Then to a small group. Then work your way up to larger audiences. With time you start feeling more comfortable with public speaking. And as always, remember to create your quiet space after you’ve stepped out of character to give a talk.
This will help you regain your energy.
4. Self-promotion and sales as an introverted coach.
Self-promotion and sales are two things that scares people whether they are an introverted coach or not.
However, introverted coaches may have to use a little bit more energy to overcome with this particular part of running a business.
Let’s remember the good news: introverts are solid at building relationships and work really well with people one on one. Those are probably the two most important factors of self-promotion and sales anyway, so you’ve already got them down. The part you may need to work on as an introverted coach is the actual self-promotion part.
That is to say, putting yourself out there and telling people what you do.
By general rule introverts don’t like a lot of attention on them, so imagine when an introverted coach has to go out there and proclaim their greatness with the intention of getting noticed?
It can get a little hairy to say the least. Enter Nancy Ancowitz.
Nancy Ancowitz has spent much of her career teaching introverts how they can promote themselves and get ahead in the work place.
Her book, Self-Promotion for Introverts, has been read by millions as they learn how to maneuver self-promotion in an extraverted world.
Susan Cain recommends building on your strengths as an introvert and then slowly beginning to learn the other skills you need and applying them gradually.
She used the example of Warren Buffet who you may know as one of the richest men in the world who runs tons of successful companies.
What you may not know is that Warren Buffet is actually an introvert, one who has had to learn to self-promote and pitch for funding. Buffet told Cain that one of the first things he did was take a class on public speaking at Dale Carnegie. It was a seemingly small step but one that would be paramount for the rest of his career.
She also explains how self-promotion and marketing don’t need to be dirty words.
At it’s most basic level, all marketing is is sharing a skill that you have that someone needs. It does not require pushing because your target market needs it. She also states how it doesn’t even require adjectives like “I’m great!”
You simply just need to state the facts: who you are, what you do and who you can help.
And then stop talking.
Additionally, to go back to Susan’s Cain point about taking it slow, you don’t have to put yourself out there all at once, but perhaps start with a Facebook post here or an email there.
With time it becomes much easier to put yourself out there and handle the attention coming your way.
Another helpful tool may be to start practicing some gratitude for the compliments and attention you may receive. This can help you start appreciating attention instead of being uncomfortable with it.
As a side note, this will also help you start boosting your confidence so that self-promotion becomes easier.
Asking for money.
Asking for money is imperative whether you are an introverted coach or not. While everyone needs to learn how to do this, it’s particularly true for introverts. As an introverted coach you may not like attention and now you need to add asking for money to the mix?
The truth is you won’t be in business very long if you don’t ask for money.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make asking for money as an introverted coach much easier.
The first steps are similar to how you get used to self-promotion. Remember, you’re just stating facts. Now all you need to do is state the fact of how much something costs. There’s nothing scam-like or pushy about this.
It’s just an exchange of value.
You have an offering that can help someone and you are exchanging it for money. Simple as that.
Expressing gratitude for compliments and attention also helps in this department because you’ll be boosting your self-confidence. As we’ve discussed before, boosting your self-worth directly affects your net-worth in a positive way.
And of course, you need to take it slow here. If you’re not comfortable asking for money you may feel overwhelmed if you try to do eight sales calls in a single day. Just take it one step at a time and give yourself credit for dropping some numbers.
The last component is to remember that even closing a sale and asking for money is about building a long term relationship – something that an introverted coach can do extremely well.
Even if your prospect says “No, I can’t afford it right now” that doesn’t mean the relationship is over. You can continue to build a relationship over time through follow ups and checking in to see how they are doing.
5. Giving yourself the space you deserve.
Being an introvert is a lot about energy exchange.
For example, you may not exactly fit the stereotype of being shy but you may feel depleted energetically after being around people. Simply put, it takes an introvert a lot of personal energy to put themselves out there and talk to people. That’s why it is imperative that you add some time by yourself as a self-care routine.
Brian Little calls is a “restorative niche”, but all that really means is giving yourself some space in whichever way that feels good to you.
If you need a day to chill out after a conference before you hit those meetings, give it to yourself.
If you need to do some major meditating after a long day of coaching calls, give it to yourself.
If you need to spend some time alone in nature after a big meeting, give it to yourself.
And give it to yourself because you genuinely deserve that time and space to yourself, not because there may be something wrong with you for being an introverted coach.
The truth is you can run a successful coaching practice as an introverted coach if you embrace your strengths and take the time and space to take care of yourself properly.
Do you consider yourself an introverted coach? What are some of the challenges you feel you face? Share in the comments below!