I genuinely enjoy sharing WordPress tips, tricks, and business processes to help members of my community grow their businesses. Those who know me as an organizer of the Austin WordPress Meetup, are always a bit surprised to learn I consider myself an introvert. Over many years, I have very purposely, sometimes painfully, practiced my presentation skills, but like most introverts, I went straight home and napped in my comfy chair after every WordPress meetup event.
Where extroverts tend to draw energy and feel invigorated from interaction with others, introverts can feel drained by prolonged engagement with others. Introverts need some quite time to restore their energy. This feeling was best described by one of my favorite WordPress freelancers, designer Michelle Schulp, founder of @marktimemedia. Michelle summed up the Introverted Ethos in a five-word Tweet, “I can’t People anymore today!”
Recent studies have found that a little more than 25% of people can be classified as introverts. These studies have also helped dismiss some of the long-held beliefs about introverts. Contrary to popular belief, we are not inherently shy or anti-social — it is just that our natural preferences are to listen, rather than speak. Introverts are simply more inwardly focused, tending to analyze the communication dynamics around us, before deciding what, if anything, we wish to contribute to the conversation. Our preference is not to be the center of attention and admittedly, introverts can feel completely alone while in the middle of a gregarious group of peers.
I’ve recently read a book that has helped me more fully appreciate the traits that many self-avowed Introverts share and may indeed be the very Secret Sauce that has helped so many of us build successful Freelance practices in the WordPress Community. The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., was a fast and accessible read. The book’s author is a researcher, educator, and psychotherapist and is considered America’s foremost authorities on introversion. I loved that the book was available for both my Kindle and as an Audiobook. I live in Austin Texas — the phrase, “…fast trip across town…” disappeared from our lexicon around 2006, with the first wave of San Francisco Tech Refugees. Audiobooks and Podcasts have become my Must-Have auto accessory.
The Introvert Advantage
This book explained why, in many ways, we introverts actually have an advantage over our more extroverted colleagues. The WordPress Community and our clientele, values our technical and analytical skills, the ability to think outside-the-box, and strong powers of concentration. That is probably why there is such a high percentage of self-identified introverts the WordPress community who are successfully working as digital commerce consultants.
The book offers some very insightful strategies, offering ways to use our natural tendencies to be active, attentive, listeners. I found the advice about how to communicate our thoughts and project insights effectively to our clients and team members particularly helpful. The author even offers a few strategies on how to confidently become a tempory extrovert, when a business meeting requires a high level of interpersonal communication. Ffor me, the tips about learning by observing others were particularly helpful.
As Introverted WordPress consultants, we thrive on helping our prospective customer find a solution to their problem. This book helped me understand the Secret Sauce our clients were looking for in our business relationship. Introverts excel at:
- being curious
- asking questions
- being more interested than interesting
- offering a sound solution
- and helping our clients to make a decision.
The Introvert’s ability to perform all these tasks well is what can help us be successful in a client-facing project like planning and build a successful website. The clients who are attracted to us, want to work with a consultant who is interested in their issues, who can communicate with them by asking the right series of questions, actively listening to their responses, offer a solution that solves the problem, and is willing to invest the time to help them make a sound decision about the best path forward.
The Introverted WordPress Consultants who are most successful in our community share an important, and possibly crucial, trait. They all seem to have empathy for other people, often putting their client’s interests ahead of their own and seem have a goal of not only meeting but exceeding their client’s expectations.
Because most introverts usually feel ‘alone in a crowd,’ we develop a sense of empathy for other people and appreciate the importance of putting the client’s interests ahead of our own. We want to outperform expectations of every client.
Another thing I’ve noticed about the Introverted Consultants in our WordPress Community. Most of us have developed the professional habit building fewer, but deeper customer relationships over time. Many of us have clients we have served before we moved them from the old HTML static sites to WordPress. These long-term clients are the best source of new clients, who come to us as referrals from vetted sources. In the WordPress Community, an environment that demands a commitment to life-long learning, being an introvert is not a limitation — it actually is a Power-Up that helps us build a client-facing business based on our strengths.