Confessions Of A Social Media Introvert

Most people who know me, would never classify me as an introvert.

If you saw me at a dinner party or a conference, you’d probably never guess it, because I’m usually the guy telling stories, laughing loudly, and entertaining the crowd. What most people don’t know, however, is that I am a hardcore introvert, which doesn’t mean that I can’t engage groups of people, it just means that it takes a lot more energy for me to engage than it would for an extrovert.

The difficulty with being an introvert in the world of social media is that I tend to engage best when my energy levels are up. You’ll find me working on my blog, twitter, and Facebook early in the morning and late at night when my energy stores are highest. In the morning, before everyone else is in the office, I have extra energy to engage. I’m a night owl, so after everyone else has gone to bed and the house is quiet, my energy levels increase and I unleash status updates, posts, and tweets on my social media friends/followers/colleagues (this post was published at 11:39 pm). While that works well for the online world, it wreaks havoc with the IRL (In Real Life) engagement opportunities that are the real value of social media.

For me, the point of all this great engagement isn’t about making online friends (no disrespect to my great online peeps). If my goal were to only have online friends, I’d be happy on Facebook and would simply ignore Twitter and LinkedIn and would certainly never blog. While online friendships are fine, I’m really interested in developing meaningful connections and building an information network, and that means face-to-face interactions, whenever possible.

So, here’s the confession part.

With the exception of a couple of professional conferences, I have sorely neglected the IRL opportunities in my local community. Mostly because the thought of expending the massive amounts of energy it takes me to meet new people isn’t very appealing. I could just a soon expend that energy landscaping my yard or cleaning my garage. But my recent assessment of my IRL activities has left me with the understanding that participating in social media only when it’s convenient for me is not only not social, it’s downright anti-social. It presumes that IRL activities aren’t worth the energy, which just isn’t true.

Since I’m a pretty self-actualized kinda guy, and now I know the issue exists, I’m going to start doing more about it. You’ll be seeing me at the Social Media Club of Kansas City (SMCKC) and Mobile Meetup events more frequently. Who knows,  I might even start answering some calls for presentations. Believe it or not, I am a pretty good presenter, I just have to really work my energy levels up to do it.  Basically, I’m going to start do a lot more to be a truly “social” social media strategist in real life.

So…I have a request from my readers. If you are a fellow social media introvert, share with me how you address the energy issues. If you’re a social media extrovert, let me know what meetups, conferences, and IRL activities you enjoy the most.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you have some great suggestions for me via comments and Tweets!


Comments And Reactions

  1. I am an introvert. I get so nervous talking to strangers I usually end up talking too much and too fast in order to hide my nervousness. This presents with a whole additional set of problems when trying to connect with people. I am working on trying to balance talking and listening.

    • I know how you feel, Tonya! I tend to babble in situation where I’m uncomfortable. When engaging online, it so much easier to take the time to craft the message before we click send. Great suggestion to focus on balancing talking and listening.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. Betony Greggan says:

    You nailed it, Sean. I’m a diehard INFJ (in Jungspeak), which doesn’t mean you don’t give a hoot about other people. To the contrary, introverts simply process things internally, rather than bouncing them off other people like a handball. I like to know what my position is before I start blabbing about it.

    Since taking early retirement, I really find it hard to go beyond the mailbox and get involved in my community as much as I’d thought I would. I was always a joiner and a leader, and I was caught offguard by this new reality. I think I depended a great deal on the structure and routine of going to an 8-hour-a-day job in an office across town, and then having prescribed professional groups and obligations that nudged me in whatever direction I needed to take.

  3. andrewkfromaz says:

    I’ve found that a great segue to being more social is to join people for meals or happy hour. It hasn’t done wonders for my waistline (or my wallet), but it did take some pressure off of my initial interactions with new people.

  4. For other introverts out there, I thought I’d share this great article by Lisa Petrilli of the Harvard Business Review:

    5 Myths about Introversion from Harvard Business Review

    Know of other great articles? Feel free to share them in a comment!


  5. I too am an introvert; which is why I’ve been reading your tips all day to help me boost my confidence in social media. I have no real tips for anyone, because my life experiences have been a bit odd. Though I am an introvert, I love the outdoors and end up meeting people who are the extroverts. Somehow hearing someones life story, without ever asking them a question, makes it easier to open up to them.

  6. wow! and i thought i was alone and different in a twisted kind of way.
    if feel good to know that being an introvert is not bad.

  7. Hey Sean

    Really appreciate this piece. Really appreciate the dilemma you face when people mistake your practiced extroversion for the real thing. Only an introvert by nature would understand that.

    I just turned 50 and it took me almost 5 decades to come to terms with my own introvert nature. I blogged about it recently in the context (and challenge) of finding love.

    I was blessed to be able to interview Susan Cain about her book The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Meticulously researched, provocative and insightful, one of the best reads I ever came across. You can’t help but see yourself in a completely different light. Good historical content as well.

    All the best Sean — happy to make your acquaintance.


  8. Do you know of any social media professional groups, clubs, or organizations that are organized around the conflict of being a social media “guru” but being introverted?

    If not, would you start one? I’ll join!

    I need something like this to exist and give legitimacy to introversion as a desirable trait in social media professionals. Everywhere I look I find the lie that you have to be extraverted to be effective in social media, and it just ain’t so. That needlessly affects a lot of people’s job prospects. We have something to contribute!


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