Are you an introvert? Here’s how you can succeed in IT consulting
Preferring your own company can be a great boon to running your own company, says Contracting Plus' Jimmy Sheehan
5 November 2020 | 0
In association with Contracting Plus
Carl Jung made the terms introvert/extrovert popular when he recognised that many of us are neither purely one nor the other, but rather we sit on varying positions along the scale.
Being an introvert does not mean you are socially awkward or shy, though suffering from these doesn’t make your journey to self-employed IT consultant impossible either.
The opposite of introvert is extrovert, and we tend to use this term for people who are gregarious, forthcoming and maybe sometimes a little too loud. Many sales books reference great salespeople who were extroverts. It is no wonder that an introvert might feel they can never be an independent consultant because they feel they won’t excel at networking and will struggle with self-promotion.
But introversion is a personality trait characterised by a focus on internal feelings and thoughts. While extroverts get their energy boost from being in a social environment, an introvert recharges by being on their own.
Are you an introvert?
The following are some of the more typical characteristics of an introvert, and many reading this might be surprised to find they might not be the extrovert they always thought they were:
- You feel drained after spending time with a lot of people. After a day interacting with others you tend to find a quiet place to recharge. Introverts expend energy in social situations whereas an extrovert will gain energy from these days.
- You have a small group of close friends. People might say they find it difficult to get to know you, but when they do, they realise you’re likely to be a great friend, colleague or business associate.
- Too much stimulation distracts you. Studies have shown that introverts are more easily distracted and find it difficult to focus in hectic environments.
- You enjoy solitude. If the thought of a few hours alone sounds like your idea of a good time, then there’s a good chance you might just be more of an introvert than you thought.
In her 2012 TED Talk, self-confessed introvert, and author of Quiet, Susan Cain argues there’s “zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas”. In a society that encourages brainstorming and group dynamics, there’s a persuasive argument made that solitude is a crucial ingredient for creativity to flourish.
Introverts are built to be self-employed
As an introvert you are better equipped for being self-employed. You will embrace and find energy from the initial isolation that comes with working alone.
You also are better at building long-lasting relationships. While you’re no social butterfly, the loyal, long-term relationships you build will better translate into long-term clients and likely lead to more word of mouth referrals.
Your client will appreciate you
The many positive traits of an introvert include being an analytical thinker and being a good listener. We listen to understand. An extrovert might be too keen to impart their knowledge and make a good impression and be accepted. When we have too much knowledge without enough understanding it can lead to bad decision making.
By listening carefully, you will be in a strong position to put forward a business proposal that is detailed, well thought out and speaks to the problem the client has.
Recognise your weaknesses
Networking, especially in large rooms, will probably make you nervous. The environment we live in today means there are no gatherings like this currently. Look for smaller online groups. Use previous employers and colleagues to get the word out about you. Use digital marketing where appropriate and write articles on your specialism on platforms where your target audience are likely to be.
If it feels right… go for it
As an independent IT consultant, you’ll be able to set your own schedule. You can choose the clients you work with and the work you like best. You’ll earn good money and with the right structure and advice you can build wealth for the future.
Your natural independence as an introvert is a big perk – use it to your advantage.
Jimmy Sheehan is commercial director with Contracting Plus, accountants and tax advisors to almost 4,000 independent consultants and professional contractors. He has written many professional and business articles for various publications and media and spoken at both technical and general business events. He’s also an introvert.