Myth: Marketing Is for Extroverts
In times gone by, marketing was done by wining and dining clients and potential clients. Wining and dining is the preference of extroverts. Those personalities who thrive on engagement with others. It was the way of the world. And there is still a place for that, but there are also plenty of other marketing methods available to us now. And by us, I mean introverts.[This article is an excerpt from my book, Stop Putting Out Fires: Building a More Efficient and Profitable Law Practice.]
What is an introvert, and am I one of them?
There is a bit of a stigma attached to the word introvert. Upon hearing it, people sometimes envision homely hermits who would just as soon never see or interact with another human. That’s rather a misconception. As with most things, there are degrees of introversion and extroversion. In fact you may be wondering now where you fit.
Here’s a question that may help shed some light on the matter: When you’ve been around a large group of people for an evening, how do you feel afterward? If your batteries are fully charged and you’d like nothing more than to talk with someone and share your experience, you are likely an extrovert. If toward the end of the evening, all you can think about is curling into your favorite chair and reading a book because you are feeling a bit drained with all the interaction and stimulation, you are likely an introvert.
Susan Cain writes in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking: “Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”((Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (p. 11). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.))
I am squarely in the introvert camp. I’m not particularly shy, and I don’t mind group events (although I wouldn’t go so far as to say I look forward to them), but afterward I am mentally wiped out. When I am looking at an upcoming conference, speaking engagement, or client dinner, I have to mentally prepare myself. But most importantly, I try to make sure that the day or two after the event requires little socialization. My batteries need recharging. The best way for me to do that is to disengage from group social interaction.
Law firm marketing is for introverts too.
If you are an introvert hoping I will tell you there is a way to market yourself to potential new clients that doesn’t require you to get out of your quiet comfort zone, you are going to be disappointed. If people are going to trust you enough to send you work to handle for them, you are going to have to get in front of them and build up some trust equity.
However, there are some things you can do to make things easier on yourself. If you aren’t very good at small talk, read tips for having good conversations before going to a networking event. For example, people really enjoy talking about themselves. You can have a conversation with a stranger in which you start by asking him what he does for a living and stay engaged in the conversation by asking natural, follow-up questions. When you two part ways, he’s going to think you just had the greatest interaction, and you are going to realize you only had to speak a couple dozen words and he did all the work.
Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done. Here’s a rule of thumb for networking events: one new honest-to-goodness relationship is worth ten fistfuls of business cards. Rush home afterward and kick back on your sofa. Carve out restorative niches.((Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (p. 264). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.))
There are plenty of other things you can do to improve your marketing without increasing your interaction. This was part of my motivation for starting this law blog in June of 2016. The blog enabled me to provide information and valuable content to clients and potential new clients in a way that would develop trust equity. They would learn about me and what I could do to help them without me having to sell them on it.
There are other things I do to provide value to clients and people with whom I have relationships but who may not be clients (yet). If I write something on a substantive legal issue that may affect a client, I’ll send it over. This has a two-fold effect: (1) it provides a service to my client by making them aware of a development in their field that could affect them and their business, and (2) keeps me fresh in their mind in case a problem arises.
In a conversation with senior in house counsel for a software/fintech company, he told me, “I don’t do well with networking at events, so I instead make an effort to send emails and make calls to potential contacts. It works for me, maybe I have to work a little harder, and yes, I’m sure there are some opportunities I miss out on because I’m not good at events.” He hasn’t resigned himself to being a sub-par marketer because of his introversion tendencies, and neither should you.
Think about the things you can do to add value and build up trust equity with clients and potential clients. There is so much more to effective marketing than wining, dining, and entertaining. The value in providing real substance and developing trusting, mutually beneficial relationships cannot be overstated.
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