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On freelancing and introversion

We may think that introversion is incompatible with being a freelancer.

A freelancer must be ultra outgoing, networking and phoning and social media-ing nonstop to build a high-powered customer base. The alternative is starvation.

Not true at all. It’s simply the American myth that there’s something wrong with introverts, that introversion is a mental disorder that may require treatment. The myth says that introversion must be overcome to achieve career success.

Kind of interesting considering that most freelancers work by themselves. A lot.

We are on the computer, perhaps at home or even working from bed. We may work independently at libraries or coffee shops or sitting outside under a tree or walking the sidewalks to clear our heads.

Actually, loners tend to thrive as freelancers, while people who are highly social get antsy, even depressed, as they crave ways to get out and about with other people.

Nor are we introverts unable to market our services.

Take me. I’m an introvert and I prefer to market by phone. I often call people I have not yet met and establish connection early in the call by talking about some professional trait we share, such as our industry or membership in a professional organization.

I’m quite able to converse with strangers and even enjoy it. One difference between me and an extrovert is that I enjoy getting down to serious conversation about a common problem (that I can solve for the prospect). I get bored with pointless small talk.

What about that rejection thing?

As I’ve written before, we have to expect some “no” along the way. That’s a fact of life and not personally crushing.

No one enjoys rejection, whether an extrovert or an introvert. However, everyone must learn to live with “no.”

When you communicate in a conversational tone and sound down to earth and genuine, only one in a thousand people hang up rudely. Honest.

What I hate to hear when a salesperson calls me

I live in the Chicago suburbs, and the thing I hate the most is, “What about them Bears?”

I have no idea how the Bears are doing. I don’t much follow sports.

I’m proud that I knew the Cubs’ win / lose status as they won the World Series. Once every 108 years I get it together.

Sometimes I resolve to read the sports pages and get in tune with the rest of Chicagoland. It doesn’t work. I’m interested in stories about team management, marketing, negotiations and such, but the details of game performance don’t interest me.

So when callers ask questions that are meant to build rapport, they actually distance me from the conversation.

I also detest when marketers from warm locales ask me about the weather here in December and brag about how beautiful it is in LA.

Hey, I don’t rub it in when your community is threatened by August fires so please return the favor. If I felt as strongly about weather as you apparently do, I would have moved away years ago.

Back to the introversion thing

I’m getting kind of bored with Twitter. Thousands of links to “the one secret you must know to succeed.” The secret is to narrow your niche. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

So I’ve started a new list on Twitter to track posts on introversion, my Myers-Briggs (INFJ) and my Enneagram (type 4 with a 5 wing).

And I’ve fished out my copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain for winter reading.

Are you an introvert? Dare you admit it? How’s it working out for you? Please comment.

Originally posted 12-12-16

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