Nobody’s 100% introverted or extroverted. 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, especially in the business world. Becoming more of an extrovert can help you better engage current and potential customers. It can also help you foster stronger relationships with employees and improve company communication.
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Although there are no exact steps to take to become an extrovert, here are tips on how to do it easier, faster and more naturally.
Introverts are usually most comfortable in their own surroundings. If you can swing it, host personal and professional events on your home turf as often as possible, whether that’s a farewell dinner at your favorite restaurant, a home-cooked meal at your house for a date or a company happy hour at your go-to lounge.
This will help you begin to associate other people with those surroundings, and it gives you a safe space to practice talking with others, listening to group conversations and learning about others’ interests. Every gathering is practice that will help you become more comfortable conversing with others, allowing you to learn how to better communicate with people. The best place to do that, especially in the beginning, is where you feel most secure.
Rather than making a vague goal of becoming more extroverted or outgoing, create specific goals that can lead you to become more extroverted. These may be smaller goals at first, and that’s okay. A goal may be complimenting someone on a project, responding to a colleague with more than one word or making lunch plans with a new co-worker each week. Tackling these small goals that take you out of your comfort zone can get you closer to reaching your overarching goal of becoming more extroverted.
Every day, you should aim to have a conversation with someone outside of your usual social or workplace circle. Ask the person, “How are you doing today?” Continue the exchange with a quick follow-up, like “What did you think of (current news or topic)?” Then embark on an engaging conversation. Try as much as possible to listen to the person and respond accordingly.
Conversations can be tricky to navigate sometimes, so it’s important to practice with different people and topics. If someone starts a conversation with you, allow it to continue by asking a question or even throwing out a compliment. Spontaneous conversations can sometimes lead to forming a bond down the line. 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.
Force yourself to have a brief conversation with someone at least once a day, such as the barista at your favorite coffee shop or your bank teller. The more you do what’s not natural, the more comfortable you’ll get.
Many introverts will agree that while they like (some) people, they also need time to recharge. If you have something coming up where you need to be an extrovert, allow for downtime before and after. That may mean reducing your social interaction in one area of your life in order to increase it in another.
For example, before a big meeting or a situation where you know you will have to be extroverted, take a short nap or engage in a calming activity, like meditation or journaling. This can calm your thoughts and help you focus on something else for a little bit. It also allows your body and mind to have a full charge, which many introverts need when going into an extremely extroverted situation. Then, following the event, give yourself time to decompress. That could involve practicing yoga, taking a bath, reading a book or even going to bed early.
Allow for downtime to give yourself an opportunity to recharge. That’s an important form of self-care, which is also critical for supporting the mental health of your employees.
Is public speaking your biggest challenge? Join a formal group, such as Toastmasters International, where you’ll have a supportive network and opportunities to overcome this hurdle. Besides working on your speaking skills, joining an organization like this is a great way to network and make new friends.
With Toastmasters or similar groups, you will be asked to stand up and speak regularly. This will help you become a better speaker in front of people and improve your ability to think clearly while in public situations. The more you get up and speak in front of others, the more comfortable you will become with it.
“In the business world, there will be numerous occasions where you have to publically speak,” said John Rampton, a public speaking expert. “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 one event a year to five or six events a month.”
Challenge yourself to say yes to any and all invites for a set period (a month is a good starting point). By forcing yourself into new situations, you’ll be given plenty of opportunities to develop extroverted tendencies.
Often, introverts decline invites to social events due to feeling drained, overwhelmed or nervous talking with a group of people. But saying yes to invitations or attending events you might normally turn down can increase your social exposure and allow you to practice conversational skills. Clients find business owners more trustworthy when they are willing to engage deeper, but you can’t engage if you don’t accept opportunities to socialize.
It isn’t always beneficial to say yes to everything, of course, as a packed schedule can cause burnout, but being more open to regular interaction with others will help your business grow.
Does the thought of attending the holiday office party put you in panic mode? Allow yourself an out, such as committing to staying at an event for at least 45 minutes. Just going in with a specific expectation can change your mindset. You might even find that you’d like to stay longer.
This applies to business operations as well. If you have a meeting with a large group of people you’re presenting to, schedule the meeting for 15 to 30 minutes. Setting a specific time frame focuses your brain on being social and outgoing for that period, and anything over that time is simply a bonus accomplishment. It also helps you track how long you will be extroverted on a given day.
If you like to have a drink from time to time, especially in social situations, don’t get too dependent on liquid courage – but know that it’s a resource you can use if it works for you. One or two drinks (max) can help in stressful situations, but it should never be your first resort. If nothing else seems to be helping, a cocktail may make you relax in a group setting.
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: You probably won’t spot any of them stationary or hanging back against walls. Instead, they typically stand in the middle of the room and are open to conversations with the people around them.
When standing in front of someone, look them in the eyes and position yourself a few feet away. Try to stand directly in front of the person you’re talking to. This will help you develop a personal relationship with them without invading their space or increasing your anxiety due to your proximity.
At a wedding, the newly betrothed are committed to visiting every table, connecting with every person and not staying next to the people they know best. Pretend you’re hosting every event you attend, and talk to as many guests as possible. You should do this in business situations, networking events and even family gatherings. After all, practice leads to progress.
The most fascinating people are usually the best listeners, and this is where introverts can excel, as they are often gifted listeners. Ask questions, give follow-ups and show genuine interest in what others are saying. You’re unlikely to build a strong sales team, close sales or win customers over the phone without being good at verbal and nonverbal communication.
If you’re heading to an event, do a quick scan of the top news stories of the day. This will ensure you are up to date on current events and have something to bring up in conversation. You also want to appear informed if someone mentions a hot topic to you.
Whether it’s a person’s interesting jewelry or the most eclectic item in a silent auction, identify a few things that are icebreakers and use them to your advantage. For example, when you’re with a potential business partner, you might decide to make icebreaker comments on things they are wearing or carrying, like a purse or briefcase. This can help eliminate the stress that most introverts feel when going into a situation that requires them to be more extroverted.
This can be a huge challenge for introverts and extroverts alike, as business owners often have notifications and messages coming in constantly. A phone can also become a security blanket in a detrimental way if it gives you an out from having a conversation with someone or an excuse for not responding. People probably won’t want to talk to you if you look busy. This is unprofessional and can make the other person feel unheard and frustrated. If possible, leave your phone in your bag or in your car to avoid the temptation of using it as a crutch in environments where you should be focused on engaging with others.
Whenever you are expected to engage with people, have appropriate jokes and anecdotes at the ready. If you’re attending an industry event, look up a few related fun facts or recent news stories that attendees will find interesting. These are great icebreakers and will help you relax during a potentially stressful situation.
It’s not easy to shift your mindset and natural tendency to avoid engaging with others, but it’s doable. The more you put these tips to use, the better it will be for your leadership and business.
That said, for any of these tips to work for you, you need a firm understanding of what an extrovert actually is. While introverts are more on the quiet side and tend to keep to themselves, extroverts are more outgoing and expressive in their behavior and interactions with others. Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, described these two personality groups as having different sources of energy.
Extroverts, Jung argued, get their energy by interacting with others and the world around them. They are most comfortable working in groups, exploring their thoughts and ideas aloud, and problem-solving with others. Extroverts are more likely to be spontaneous, leading to risk-taking behavior. Their spontaneity also contributes to their flexibility and adaptation to new situations or circumstances. It’s easy to see why these skills, as they relate to communication and confidence, are valuable when running a business. They are qualities to look for not only in yourself, but also in managers and other high-level employees who help lead your company. [Learn more about identifying leadership skills.]
While all personality types are needed for a business to flourish, it can be vital to have extroverts in key roles. You’ll want to express extroverted behaviors yourself as a business owner, like openness, creativity and adaptability.
Businesses thrive with both introverts and extroverts working together and using their strengths. However, extroverted behavior and interaction can be more beneficial in a business, especially when working with colleagues, clients or consumers. Here are a few benefits of being an extrovert in business.
Drew Hendricks contributed to the writing and research in this article.