Nobody’s 100 percent introvert or extrovert—we all have tendencies of both personality types lurking inside us. While there are plenty of upsides to being an introvert, sometimes you need to embrace your inner extrovert. Becoming more of an extrovert will help you to be more engaging with your customers and potential customers.
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Here are a few tips on how to do it easier, faster and most naturally:
1. Revere your turf
Most introverts are most comfortable in their own surroundings. If you can swing it, have events on your home ground as often as possible whether it’s a farewell dinner at your favorite restaurant, a home-cooked meal at home for your date, or heading to your go-to lounge for a company happy hour.
This will help mentally to associate other people with those surroundings. This will also help you to be much more comfortable with talking with people and going out of your comfort zone.
2. Practice smiling
Non-verbal cues are more powerful than you think. If you prefer other people to approach and start conversations, encourage them by making eye contact and smiling. You can practice on the street, at the store or just about anywhere else.
People associate happiness and joy with smiling. This will also cause potential clients to loosen up and become more relaxed around you, making a sale much more likely.
3. Practice, practice, practice
Force yourself to have a brief conversation with anyone from the barista to your banker at least once per day. The more you do what’s not natural, the more comfortable you’ll get. Plus, you might even score some discounts down the road!
Everyday you should focus on having a conversation with someone outside of your comfort zone. "How are you doing today", with a quick follow on "What did you think of (insert current news or topic)?" Then begin a conversation. Try as much as possible to listen and respond accordingly.
The more you become accustomed to this, the more likely you’ll be able to do it in networking situations when it’s really needed.
4. Allow re-charge time
Many introverts will agree that while they like (some) people, they also need time to re-charge. If you have something coming up where you need to be an extrovert, allow for down time beforehand.
I personally like to take a nap before a big meeting or somewhere I'm going to have to be extremely extroverted. This allows my brain to shut off completely and not be focusing on being out there. It also allows my body and mind to have a full charge, which many introverts like myself need when going into an extremely extroverted situation.
5. Join Toastmasters or another speaking group
Is public speaking your biggest challenge? Join a formal group such as Toastmasters where you’ll have a supportive network and opportunities to overcome this hurdle. Plus, it’s a great way to network and make new friends.
In Toastmasters International or other similar groups, you will be asked to stand up and speak regularly. This will help you become a better speaker in-front of people as well as be able to think while in public situations. The more you get up and publically speak in front of people, the more comfortable you will become with it.
Public speaking expert John Rampton says “In the business world there will be numerous occasions where you have to publically speak. The more you’re used to this the better it will be for you and your business. For me this has proved very valuable over the years as I’ve gone from speaking at 1 event a year to 5 or 6 events a month.”
6. Practice saying yes
Challenge yourself to say yes to any and all invites for a set period of time (a month is a good benchmark). By forcing yourself into new situations, you’ll be forcing yourself to practice extrovert tendencies.
Watch the movie Yes Man and learn that saying yes isn't always a bad thing. I don’t recommend saying yes to everything as this could destroy your business, but being more open will help your business grow.
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7. Give yourself an out
Does the thought of attending this Friday’s holiday office party put you in panic mode? Allow yourself an out, such as committing to at least 45 minutes of party attendance and then you’re “allowed” to leave. You might find that you’d like to stay once you arrive, or if not then you know you can handle anything for 45 minutes. This will help adjust your brain to know when it's time to turn off.
I do this in the business world as well. If you have a meeting with a large group of people you’re presenting too, schedule the meeting for 15-30 minutes. This will help you know that after 30 minutes you don’t have to be extroverted.
8. Balance liquid courage wisely
If you imbibe every now and then, don’t get too dependent on liquid courage—but know that it’s a resource if it works for you. One or two drinks (max) can help in the most stressful of situations, but it should never be the first resort.
9. Know where to stand
In a networking or party environment, do you hug the walls or head straight to the refreshment station and stay there? Think of the extroverts you know: None of them will be spotted stationary or against walls. Instead, stand in the middle of the room and be open to conversations.
When standing in-front of someone, look them in the eyes and stand 2-3 feet away. Try to stand directly in-front of the person you're talking too. This will help you to develop a much personal relationship with them.
10. Pretend you’re playing host
At a wedding, the newly betrothed are committed to visiting every table, connecting with every person, and never leech on to just the people they know best. Pretend you’re hosting every event you attend, and talk to as many people as possible.
You’ll be required to do this in business situations and at networking events. Practice makes perfect.
11. Practice active listening
The most fascinating people are usually the best listeners, and this is where introverts can excel as they are gifted listeners. Ask questions, ask follow-up questions and show genuine interest in what others are saying. Not only is this your natural comfort zone, it will make you seem intriguing.
Us this to your advantage in the business world by listening and asking the right questions to get you the sale.
12. Brush up on current events
If you’re heading to an event, do a quick scan of Google’s top news stories (or whatever media source you prefer). This will help you to be up to date on current events and have something to talk to with everyone. Every leader has to develop a set of skills that they normally don't have. Learning about current events can help hurdle problems when there is no synergy between you and the person you're talking too.
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13. Pinpoint the icebreakers in the room
Whether it’s a person’s interesting jewelry or the most eclectic item in a silent auction, choose a few items that are icebreakers and use them to your advantage. This works whether in a professional setting or at a singles bar.
When I’m with a potential business partner, I like to make icebreaker comments on things they are wearing. This helps to eliminate that small tension that most introverts have when going into a business situation.
14. Stay off your phone
This can be a huge challenge for introverts and extroverts alike. However, it’s like a security blanket. If possible, don’t even bring your phone in with you. It’s just too tempting.
If you can't keep yourself from looking at your phone 300x during a meet up, leave it in the car. I had to personally do this for months to get me to stop looking at it. Believe me, it'll help.
15. Have a few anecdotes at your fingertips
Everyone should have appropriate jokes and anecdotes at the ready. If you’re attending an industry event, look up a few factoids or recent news stories that attendees will find interesting. These are what I call icebreakers and will help you relax this potentially stressful situation for you.
It’s not easy to shift your stripes, but it’s doable. Practice leads to perfection, so stay on top of your extroversion game. It’s hard to be an introverted person in the business world, but the more you can put these tips to use, the better it will be for your business.