Setting an Introvert Up for Success

Recently, I shared a conversation that I had with a woman who had a terrific idea for her membership start-up, but she was feeling anxious about moving forward. As we talked about why that might be, she said,”I feel like I’m an introvert playing an extrovert’s game”. She was concerned that the work required to start and run a membership was going to push her outside her comfort zone.

I had been curious if her line of thinking would resonate with others, so I asked. I was truly amazed by the responses. Here are just a few snippets from what people shared:

“Being an introvert is pretty much the main obstacle that is keeping me from moving forward with my business and reaching out to people who I may be able to help.”

“As an introverted person, I have to be super-careful how I spend my energy. My calls are scheduled days apart so I know when I have to be “up and on”…”

“My introversion does lead me to not even want to blog or post on social media but i know I have to do at least this so I try.”

“I had to stretch myself a bit to put myself out there, but that was 100x easier than trying to do offline marketing. I totally sucked at that. I understand the struggle, but you can push through.”

“As an introvert, I shy away from anything having to do with audio and video recording. I'm not articulate. I freeze up and stumble in that kind of situation. So I'm much more comfortable providing services that involve mostly or exclusively written content.”

“I also have trouble with being visible as an introvert, but it's so necessary when building a brand.”

“I love my profession and my association and I'm very excited about growing our membership and put a lot of effort into being present and making new connections during the conference, but I BURNED. OUT. and it was absolutely related to being an introvert and getting overwhelmed by the constant social connecting with very little downtime.”

If any of these comments feel familiar for you, I thought I'd share a concept that might help. (This goes WAY back to my undergraduate work as a psychology major and my graduate studies in social work.) It’s called “dominance complementarity theory” and it’s, in part, why I believe that introverts can make excellent membership leaders.

In short, this theory says that groups work best when leaders and members balance each other out.

Put too many extroverts together and everyone can feel frustrated by lots of talking, little action and a tendency for the group to get mired in conflict. Extroverted leaders will get best results when they are paired with a community that listens to the leader and implements his or her ideas.

In contrast, get too many introverts together and the group can be passive, failing to advance enough to keep people interested. Active groups thrive under the leadership of an introverted leader because members are more likely to feel truly heard, making them more willing to actively engage without fear of ideas being shot down.

Making this theory actionable:

From a practical standpoint, what does this mean for those of you who run membership programs?

1. To thine own self be true.
First and foremost, whether you are introverted or extroverted, build the type of membership that gives YOU what you need. Yes, I believe in designing a member experience that is ideal for the member… BUT you will find it very difficult to lead something long-term that drains you and doesn’t give you what you innately need.

2. Structure your engagement in a way that suits your energy.
Prefer to think before you speak? Give yourself time and space between interactions. Take member input via email, social media posts, or a special form… then gather your thoughts and respond in a structured format. Are you awesomely outgoing? Answering questions via Facebook live showcases your charisma and you'll thrive in the energy of spontaneity.

3. Provide opportunities for input.
Members like to be heard and they’ll feel most comfortable in an environment where they can share their thoughts openly and see good ideas advanced. There’s a powerful sense of community that emerges from these situations.

4. Create smaller groups.
There's a trend right now toward HUGE groups. While big numbers may be good for your ego, they aren't necessarily the best way to build meaningful connections. Inside every large membership program is an opportunity for more intimate gatherings. Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t necessarily shy. They simply prefer smaller groups and may feel drained when the group size grows too large. Use this insight about yourself (and/or members who may be more introverted) to design smaller group experiences.

5. It’s OK to walk softly, but you can still carry a big message.
The fact that introverts aren't talk, talk, talk all the time means that when you do speak, it’s likely something important and people will notice. The most powerful persuasion is not typically generated by the person shouting their message from the center of the room, but rather by the right message deliberately delivered at the right time by someone that is a trusted messenger.

6. Groups need energy and action.
Beware the tendency for extroverts to talk over each other. If this is a blind spot for you, engage a friend or recruit a team member who has a different personality than you to be mindful of this dynamic. While a bunch of high-energy people getting together can feel good at first, you'll get better results with more balance.

7. Let others promote you, if necessary.
If you’re not one to seek the spotlight, recognize that this can be a challenge in promoting your membership. You need to put what you’re creating out into the world in a way that allows people to find you. Consider working with a coach who can help you articulate your vision in a way that showcases the uniqueness and creativity of your membership opportunity beautifully, while giving you the confidence you need to lead.

Do you know your personality type? Find out in 12 minutes by taking the free personality test here: https://www.16personalities…

I am not affiliated with the test in any way. I just think that people who *really* know themselves can design the most effective member experiences for themselves and their members.

As for me, I am a “Defender” – ISFJ-T… I am supportive, reliable, patient, imaginative, observant, enthusiastic, loyal and hardworking. Yep,you guessed it… that “I” stands for introverted. As an introverted type, I design experiences for my membership programs that emphasize smaller group settings and one-on-one sessions where my strengths can shine and where I know I’ll be of best service to my audience.

I’d love to hear how you accommodate your areas of personality strength and challenge into your work with members… or do you feel like aspects hold you back in any way?

Did This Help You? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you commented below and shared on Facebook.

Hey, have you joined The CircleWhen you're part of our community of membership-builders, you face no challenge alone. In fact, you'll be surrounded by a welcoming group of people who actually *get* membership. We have membership-specific trainings, inspiring challenges, an active forum, and supports that make it easier for you to focus on what's really important.  Stop by and check us out. We'd love to welcome you.

About The Author:

I’m Joy Duling. Since 2005, I’ve been quietly helping smart, creative, passionate changemakers launch membership programs. To me, membership is more than a business model. It’s a powerful platform for uniting your unique tribe of followers around the change you were meant to bring to the world.  If you agree, let’s connect.  #leadyourcause

Twitter: @joyofmembership
Skype:  live:jduling