I’ve just made a career shift from a large organization to a small tech company. After years on a PR staff of 10, I’m now the solo communications representative.
Startup culture requires you to take initiative, work on multiple projects at once, be assertive, innovative, creative and ready to handle change at any moment. This has been a most challenging environment for me because I’m a textbook introvert.
Yet, I’m thriving. Why?
I recently read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a passionate and persuasive look at the value of the introvert. She examines how and why American business culture prizes the extrovert, and she uses social, psychological and scientific research to explain the difference between the two personality types.
The traits and characteristics of an introvert are so valuable to communications and PR. I’m good at my job because I’m an introvert, not in spite of it. Inspired by Cain’s book, I’ve outlined five traits that make introverts better publicists.
1. We prefer listening to speaking
Whether your job requires you to deliver your key messages, or prepare someone else for remarks or an interview, this skill is vital for communicators.
To properly respond to your audience, you have to hear them first. Introverts assess a situation carefully and think before we speak. This allows us to present a succinct message, and stop talking once that message has been delivered. We do this naturally and can train our spokespeople to do it too.
2. We are amazing at solving complex problems
Introverts are more likely to be motivated by diving deep into a project for hours on end. So much of our role is based on research, problem solving, foresight and preparation. We are more likely to ask “what if” and assess every possible outcome of a situation.
Whether we’re in crisis mode or are planning our next campaign, being analytical and thorough are cornerstones of a top-notch strategy.
3. We are keen observers; we are the canaries in your coalmine
Introverts are acutely aware of the world around them. We will spend time in meetings watching the body cues and reactions of those around us. Because we’re not busy talking, we’ll pick up on non-verbal communication.
Careful observation can reveal important clues about the tone and reception of your message. How useful could this be if your main role is internal communications? Consider, for example, the value in surveying staff while your CEO delivers a speech at a town hall and what that could reveal.
4. We are great writers
Remarks. Press releases. Pitches. Tweets. Emails. Copywriting. Blogs. Articles.
All of these require great writing. Most communications-style writing is persuasive and succinct. Because we think things through more carefully, observe our world and love to work through complexity, we are able to synthesize detailed or dull information into a compelling messages for our audience.
5. We prioritize our socializing
I expel significant energy socializing and I need to recharge afterward. So I carefully select the events and meetups I’ll attend, which helps me better manage my energy and my time. This makes me a more efficient networker. It might take me a moment to think about what I’m going to say and to whom, but I’ll be sure to speak to the right person in the room. Teaching yourself how to use this to your advantage can make you a superstar in your community.
Hire an introvert
I don’t need to be the loudest person in my office to succeed as a publicist. I need to listen to what my audience is saying, write persuasively without errors and consider risk before I take action. I’ll see problems before they arise and I will manage them—and my time—effectively. Maybe your next hire should be an introvert.
To hear more about Cain’s research, including her arguments about why creativity and productivity will be squandered if we don’t tap into the power of the introvert, you can find her book online, and check out her TedTalk here.
Nicole is a communications manager with a FinTech in Toronto called RateHub.ca.