When it comes to excelling in your career, you likely know that building and growing your personal brand is a key piece of the puzzle.
But, here’s the thing: The very thought of pasting on a smile and a name tag, shaking the hands of a bunch of strangers, and reciting your elevator pitch makes you nauseous.
You consider yourself an introvert. Now, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t automatically qualify you as someone who’s painfully shy or dislikes people altogether. Instead, as Myers Briggs explains, you get your energy from a more internal source—like your own thoughts, ideas, and time for reflection. In contrast, extroverts feel most energized by activities and groups of people.
But don’t worry if the thought of mingling makes you super uncomfortable. Personal branding isn’t all about schmoozing over cocktails at a networking event—in fact, that’s only a very small slice of it.
Here are a few ways that you can build your personal brand, without having to pretend you’re an extrovert.
1. Leverage Social Media
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for personal branding—for both introverts and extroverts. But, for those who prefer a little more alone time, leveraging social media can be particularly appealing.
Start by ensuring your profiles are all up-to-date. That way, they can tout your skills and accomplishments for you, without you so much as saying a word.
After that, try joining LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats to participate in discussions relevant to your industry and connect with fellow professionals. Post interesting articles or updates you find to your own profiles. You can even write and publish your own content on platforms like LinkedIn or Medium.
All of these tactics are far less anxiety-inducing than needing to strut up to a stranger at a networking event. Plus, they all reinforce your qualifications, keep you visible, and even establish you as a thought leader in your field—all without having to leave your computer.
2. Focus on Relationships
As an introvert, you’d much rather have a one-on-one conversation. You’re focused on meaning and might dread the thought of working the room to have short, surface conversations with everyone there.
So, don’t pressure yourself into thinking that you need to be the center of attention, speak with a large audience, or speed date as many connections as possible in order to foster a solid reputation.
If you continue to build one meaningful relationship at a time with the people who actually matter to you, by setting up informal meetings or coffee dates, you’ll actually end up with a stronger personal brand (and more beneficial network!) than those people who fly around networking events engaging in endless conversations about the weather.
3. Expand Your Qualifications
Expanding your skills and expertise is a surefire way to solidify and improve your personal brand. However, many fail to actually take the steps to do so.
Fortunately, this is a perfect option for introverts in particular, as it typically provides the opportunity for more reflection on your own ideas and even some more quiet time to learn a new skill.
Take that online course you’ve been meaning to get around to. Read that book that’s been collecting dust on your shelf. Or, pursue that certification that you’ve been telling yourself that you’ll get one day. You know the one? It’s been bookmarked in Chrome purgatory for the past three years.
Once you complete your extracurricular, make sure to post your new certification on your LinkedIn, your resume (if relevant) and your personal website to cash in on the branding payoff.
Investing in yourself is always recommended. It’ll strengthen your resume and your qualifications, but typically won’t require time spent in the spotlight.