I am an introvert. Too be even more specific, I am an INFJ. I am not shy. I am not quiet. I am what I like to call an "extroverted introvert." When people first meet me they do not believe I am an introvert. I am outgoing, vulnerable and vocal. I am perfectly comfortable saying hard things to people. I stand up for myself. I am perfectly comfortable giving speeches and presentations in front of people.
However, what you do not see, is that after I am done talking with people, I go home and crash! Certain events take me days to recover my energy. I am happy talking with friends, but I am happier reading a book by myself. I love my family, but I could go days without talking if someone let me. I love vacations with family, but a true vacation would be me alone in a hotel room near the beach with silence and good books for a couple of days.
I feel there is a misconception, still, about introverts. That misconception is that we do not like to stand out. That we like to be wallpaper in the back corner at any professional or personal event we are attending. That is not the case. I think that most introverts see the extroverts, either on television or the internet, and think they have to be loud and bold like that type of personality to stand out in the crowd. On the contrary!
First, let's address WHY an introvert should WANT to stand out in a crowd. If you are a business owner entrepreneur at a professional event, you need to speak to and attract new clients and contacts. At a personal event, it is a great way to meet new and interesting people...even if that involves the ever painful "small talk."
Here is my secret weapon for being an introvert and still standing out in a crowd.
Yes. Plain and simple appearance. Here is how I use my outside appearance to draw clients and people toward introvert me without having to seek out someone to talk to. These are some tactics I use when I am thinking about how I would like my appearance to help me at a social event.
1. What is everyone else going to look like?
I always think about how Apple created white electronic and support products. They looked at the electronics category as a whole and noticed that everything was black...so they simply chose the complete opposite color. White. Simple change and yet they stand out in a crowd. You see someone one with white headphones and you know they are using an Apple product.
The same is true when you attend a professional or personal event. Think about what everyone else will be wearing. How will the women be dressed? How will they style their hair? Will they all be wearing the same Army green jacket, black leggings and black Hunter boots holding their Starbucks cups? I would then choose to wear a long flowy, floral print, ultra feminine dress. Choose the opposite of everyone else! GIRLS dress the same as each other in high school. WOMEN should embrace their own style and set their own trends. I HATE dressing like everyone around me...so I don't.
How do you wear your hair? Do you have long hair and pull it back up into a topknot or pony tail every day? Do you ever wear it down? Curl it? Style it? Color it? Highlight it?
I was at Target 2 years ago during back-to-school season. I had my mousy brown medium length hair pulled back in a low bun, the same way I always styled my hair every day for I don't know how many years. I looked around. EVERY WOMEN HAD THE SAME HAIR STYLE. I made an appointment the next day and I pixie cut my hair. Simple. If I pulled it back every day, why not just cut it off!
I still have the same mousy brown hair (I am too cheap for the upkeep of coloring it) but now people recognize me and remember my name simply because they remember my short hair. I have added purple streaks to it in the past. I am considering a bright pink front streak for an upcoming women's business event. Simple. Pink hair stands out.
If coloring your hair is not your thing, think about how you can get creative with your style. Light on top, dark underneath. Long on top, shaved short and colored underneath. Beautiful highlights and one streak of brown or a color. Get creative! Hair can always be cut and always grows back.
3. Statement Piece
This is the number way I have people approach me on a regular basis and start a conversation. Choose a statement piece.
Clothing - I have a shirt that says "I eat glitter for breakfast." I have to choose NOT to wear this shirt sometimes because it draws people to me like a magnet! A simple shirt with a simple snarky statement will draw people to you. I saw a woman walking the other day while I was driving. I can not tell you what she looked like, but her shirt said "You had me at Pumpkin Spice Latte." Brilliant!
Jewelry - I have been known to wear a normal outfit, but then I will throw on one of my 5 year old daughter's crazy, big, weird, dress up rings. The crazier the better! I am very expressive and talk with my hands so everyone around me will notice the ring. That statement piece invites a conversation, which usually starts off with me talking about my beloved daughter, a subject that lights me up and I could talk about forever.
Hair accessory - Pair a normal outfit with a bold or beautiful statement hair accessory. A vintage barrette. A little girl size bow. A neon colored headband. A hat! Something that is just a little bit different.
You do not need to be "internet famous" to stand out in a crowd. You can be an introvert and still be your reserved, thinking self. Think about statement pieces that will draw people toward you. Have fun with it! A totally professional business outfit, with a snarky t-shirt under your blazer tucked into your suit pants. A totally professional outfit, with a My Little Pony purse. Get creative! People will come to you instead of you sweating and freaking out about how to initiate a conversation.
Professional and personal events do not have to be the dreaded "small talk" events that introverts envision them to be. Through a little creative pre-planning with your appearance, you will have clients, customers and potentially new friends coming to you!
"Try terrific things."
- Bob Goff
To all of you fellow introvert out there reading this post, be brave, be yourself. You are worthy of attention. You are worthy of standing out in your own way. You have stories, experiences and expertise to share with all of us!
How do you stand out in a crowd?