My name is Amanda and I’m an introvert.

Sometimes I feel that it’s so misunderstood that I have to open with something like that. Like I have to identify myself as an introvert, so people understand how I’m going to react in certain situations. Because a lot of times I find that being an introvert is misunderstood. A lot of people just assume we’re shy, which is not the case for me. I can talk to anyone. But it really comes down to, for me at least, is I’m not comfortable in large groups. I do much better one on one. And if I spend a lot of time around people, it means that I need to decompress and be alone for a little bit just to balance out. Because balance, as we know, is one of the most important things we need when we’re running businesses. Sometimes you have to just hustle like crazy, and sometimes you need to take breaks. Sometimes you need to push yourself out of the comfort zone, and sometimes you need to play it a little bit safe. Just like sometimes you have to take those risks, and sometimes it’s better to hold off for a little while before making any major decisions. We always have to find that balance to make sure everything is running the way it’s supposed to.

A major difference between introverts and extroverts has to do with energy. Extroverts feed off the energy of others. That’s why they do so well in social settings, and large gatherings, and being the center of attention. The energy of others propels them forward. But for us introverts, that same energy depletes us, and sometimes leaves us feeling completely worn out after a big event.

I’ve had people tell me that I’m not an introvert, and that makes me laugh because I know myself really well, and I’m pretty much a textbook introvert. But, I can kind of put it aside a little bit when I have to for a certain situation. So I can be outgoing during a social situation, or if I have to be on a shoot for 10 to 12 hours, I can handle that. It’s not so much an act as it is being able to channel what energy I have to where it’s needed. But, at the end of the event, I’m ready to go home and be alone for a little bit.

And this makes networking a particular challenge for me because I do much better in quiet settings with fewer people. And most specific networking events are big events, usually in loud places. Where I live in Vegas, they’re usually just excuses for people to just get together and drink. And very little business actually gets discussed. And so I stopped going to those. For a while, I was trying. I thought, well, I just need to push myself out of my comfort zone. Even though I’m not going to love this, I’m going to try and do my best. But it would be so loud, I couldn’t hear anybody. They couldn’t hear me because my voice doesn’t really carry very far. And it just… I never had a good time. The second I walked into one of those things, I was already wanting to go home as soon as possible. So I stopped going because I have to honor myself and what I need, and there are other ways to doing things. So the big networking events, although they do have their place, and some people love them, those aren’t for me.

And I know I’m always saying that we have to make the right decisions for ourselves. But it’s so important, because there is a time to push yourself out of the comfort zone and to try new things. But if you keep trying the same thing over and over, and every time you hate it, it’s probably never gonna work for you. And it’s okay to just say, that’s not for me.

I was at one of those networking events last year when somebody actually said to me, “You can’t be a producer if you’re an introvert,” in a very condescending manner. He then went on to mansplain some other stuff to me, and I just kind of dismissed it and walked away. But that was one of those things where I’m like, man, people just don’t understand. Now there are some really great extroverted producers as well. But the whole point is you can be one or the other, or somewhere in between, and either way, you can be good at what you do.

Some of my introverted tendencies actually help me to be a better producer. And a lot of it boils down to the power of observation, which is one of my strongest skillsets. A lot of times, the person in charge is busy talking and giving orders, and they don’t always see and hear what’s going on around them. Well, like I said, I don’t want to be the center of attention, so I’m not talking all the time. But I’m listening, and I’m hearing, and I’m observing, and I see what’s going on around me. And, a lot of times, that helps me anticipate problems that people don’t even know are there yet. It helps me read people and the nonverbal cues that are there. A lot of times that helps me connect better with people than if I were just talking at them the whole time. And that’s not to say that extroverts talk at people. They’re really great at getting people enthused, and ready to work, and happy, and all that other stuff. Again, there’s a good balance where you want to have both on your team.

I know I can be underestimated sometimes because I’m quiet, and I’m nice. But I won’t apologize for those things. It’s a big part of who I am, and it’s helped me to be really successful in business. Because business is about working with people, and people like people who are nice. And that can work in my favor sometimes because when I do speak up, it’s because I have something important to say, and people tend to listen. You don’t have to be bold and outspoken to be successful. You can be those things and be successful, but you can also not be those things and be successful.

For me, I know that I’m better one on one. So I’m not going to go to one of those networking events where I’m not going to have a good time. And if I went with somebody, they’re going to see that I’m not having a good time, so then they’re not going to have a good time. And that’s no good for anybody. So instead of doing that, I might politely decline the event, but then offer to go meet them for coffee later in the week – during the day, when it’s quiet, and we can actually have a conversation and maybe get some business moving forward. Because I know I’m not going to accomplish anything in that loud, crowded setting. But one on one, we might actually make some progress. 

A lot of this comes down to knowing who you are and owning it. Figuring out what works for you, what doesn’t work for you, and having the confidence to have these conversations with your clients, your vendors, and other people you’re working with. And sometimes you have to compromise. You might have to go a little bit out of your comfort zone sometimes for the benefit of a working relationship. But, if you’re constantly having to do that, and it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not the right relationship for you.

I’ve found a lot of times that people are scared to have those conversations – with their clients, especially. They feel like they’re getting paid, so they have to constantly do what the client wants. But that’s just not the case. You are allowed to run your business your own way. They don’t get to dictate that for you. Sometimes you have to make the decision – am I going to compromise on this and risk losing that client? Or am I going to stand my ground and do things the way that I need to do them? And explain to them why doing them that way will actually benefit them more, because sometimes people just don’t know. They might love to have meetings in person, but they don’t realize that it’s not as comfortable for you, and it takes away from the work that you could be doing for them. A lot of it again comes to communication and just being able to explain.

And I don’t mean you have to explain every nuance about yourself to every client. But sometimes having those conversations helps them understand where you’re coming from, you can understand where they’re coming from, and you can really develop a strong working relationship that works for both of you.

You just have to be who you are. It’s the best way to stay authentic to your business and make sure you’re connecting with the right people who appreciate you. After a class I taught last year, this woman came up to me and said, “I think you’re my spirit animal.” And I loved hearing that, but it turned out she just wasn’t used to seeing other introverts out there. So, I guess that’s my message. You can be an awkward introvert and still be successful. You can be a life-of-the-party extrovert, and still be successful. Just be yourself and be successful.