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  • Diana Schneidman

Should introverts phone for freelance and consulting assignments?

I say yes, but first, let’s clarify exactly what an introvert is.

The definition of “introvert” on Gifted Children is typical: “An introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.”

Notice that words like “shy” and “quiet” are absent from the definition. Introversion is about how you feel when interacting with other people at length, not how you perform and how you appear to others in these interactions.

It’s easy for an introvert to automatically excuse himself from certain business-building techniques because of this inborn trait.

However, an introvert can phone prospects—or even “cold call”—just as well as an extrovert, and I should know because I am an introvert.

Furthermore, there’s no reason to assume that phoning strangers or at least mere acquaintances for work comes naturally to extroverts. Calls in which you are asking for something can be scary to anyone, even those who relish social events. Not only “cold calls,” but requests for charity donations and personal favors are often difficult for people regardless of where they fall on the introvert / extrovert spectrum.

It’s the ask that’s scary, not the engaging in conversation.

Very few people are so introverted that they don’t gab on the phone, at least with friends and family.

Cold calling may seem daunting if you haven’t tried it, but it’s relatively easy—even for introverts—after you gain a little experience because you know exactly what you will say. You only have to formulate a few sentences to start the conversation.

If the callee is interested, the conversation proceeds as give and take like any other conversation. And if the callee is not interested, the conversation doesn’t take long.

Most likely, no one answers your call and you quickly and efficiently leave a message telling the person exactly what they need to know. Don’t worry, they won’t call back if they don’t want to talk to you.

Now back to this thing about introverts. I believe that there are no lucrative assignments in any area of freelancing or consulting that are won, implemented and concluded without some telephone or in-person conversation.

Talking to people is part of the deal. Introducing yourself is only one of many tasks that may have you biting your nails but there are others. Like naming your price . . . following up to find out if you have the assignment . . . questioning client decisions that you think stink . . . getting paid.

It’s interesting that while many people claim to hate cold calling, they feel totally comfortable with networking at meetings. Or at least they say they do.

Telephoning is much easier for the introvert than is in-person socializing because you have much more control over how you’ll start the conversation. And if it’s going especially badly, you can simply hang up. (I’ve never had to resort to that, but it’s an option.)

I suppose it is because many in our society see distaste for phoning (or “cold calling”) as a source of personal pride while networking is so universally lauded that no one can remove it from his tool box.

Originally posted 11-9-11

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