In an industry where networking and “putting yourself out there” are the primary vehicles for attracting new clients, it’s sometimes difficult to be an introvert. As a coach who is an introvert living in a world of extroverts, I’ve learned what I need to thrive and be effective.
What about you?
Here’s what I’ve learned as an introverted coach: Introverts can coach and market their services in ways that are consistent with their personalities and thrive. Let’s look at what sets introverts apart.
Generally speaking, introverts share these three distinct characteristics:
- Energy Source: Introverts recharge by solitude. We find nourishment in the internal world of ideas and concepts. For me, that happens primarily through the daily discipline or journaling and nature walks. The more isolated the location, the more alive I feel. Without sufficient downtime, I lose my edge.
- Internal Processing: In a world of information overload, introverts need time to process their feelings and experiences. After a day of back-to-back clients and business meetings, I need time to process my thoughts and feelings.
- Depth over Breadth: Introverts experience depth in relationships and life.We invest our time and energy in fewer activities and topics, seeking to mine them for their riches. The beauty is we then pass on the riches we glean to our clients. Introverts often thrive in academic settings and enjoy study and critical thinking, which means we’re naturals when it comes to reading business magazines and books that help us hone our skills and our businesses.
Introverts as Coaches
And that’s not all. As introverts, we bring unique gifts to our coaching conversations and clients.
Henri Nouwen said, “Compassion is the fruit of solitude.” Our compassionate presence in the life of our clients can be a refuge from a world of high demand, a world where performance often equals worth. Clients may describe our presence as healing, although, as coaches, healing is never the focus of our coaching. But it does happen as we engage clients in the coaching process.
What’s more, introverts have a unique ability to go below life’s surface with our thoughtful, probing questions. Often intuitive, we are gifted in observing patterns in relationships and group dynamics, which translates into insight for the client.
It’s common for clients to gravitate toward us, because we are natural listeners. Our listening is an act of godly love. We give clients the space they need to “clear” and process their inner and outer worlds.
Because our inner world serves as an incubator for creativity, imagination, and innovation, we naturally “call forth” our clients’ creativity and give them permission to venture forth into unexplored depths, in life and relationships.
But be forewarned, as introverted coaches, we can quickly burn out if we schedule too many clients back-to-back with no breaks in between. My maximum capacity is three or four clients a day. I use the remaining hours each day for writing, responding to emails, or other business-related activities.
While our contribution is markedly different from that of extraverts, it is no less powerful.
Introverts as Marketers
It’s when we talk marketing that things get really tough for introverts.
For introverts, traditional marketing tactics, such as networking, come hard.
In my experience, it has borne little fruit, probably because my discomfort is painfully obvious at most networking events. But put me in a small gathering of five or six, and I’m in my sweet spot, which is why I prefer relationship marketing and offering workshops to small groups.
Writing has also served me well, as I’m able to reach a large number of prospects through the articles I write, all from the comfort of home. Remarkably, the majority of my clients come to me through my website or after reading something I wrote, which I’ve heard from others is rare. For me, it’s merely a matter of working in my strengths, and it pays off.
I can’t tell you the number of calls I’ve had where prospects say something to the effect of: I read your article on X, and I felt compelled to contact you because I think you’d really “get me.” Remarkably, few of the articles are on the topic of coaching. Rather, they are on topics near to my heart, topics like spiritual formation, finding intimacy with God through suffering, and living with chronic pain and illness. People respond because I write from my heart.
Social media is also a marketing tool that’s relatively comfortable for me, although admittedly, it takes a lot of time.
Although I am still carving a place in the coaching profession as an introverted coach, I find that my clients are fiercely committed to the coaching process and to me, staying with me for long periods of time. The feedback I received from a recent client survey was overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps it is an indicator that I’m finding my sweet spot as an introverted coach and seeing the fruit of working from my strengths.
Have you embraced your introverted nature as the gift that it is? How have you used your unique strengths to build your business? Share in the comment sections below.
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