Group presentations and collaboration—two things most introverts usually avoid at all costs. And, for better or worse, these are two things freelancers have to do regularly. But all is not lost! There are a few tactics you can use as a freelance introvert to make things easier on yourself.
Before we dive into the list, let’s get one thing straight: freelancers often spend quite a lot of time by themselves. Depending on your industry, you may spend the majority of your time working solo. And that’s a major reason why many introverts turn to freelancing over more traditional, in-office employment.
Having said that, some of your responsibilities will require you to interact with others or even speak in front of groups. For those times, here are five ways you can learn to thrive as a freelance introvert.
1. Worry Less
I don’t mean this flippantly! For many people, the fear of doing the thing is way worse than actually doing the thing! So, if you’ve ever found yourself spiraling down into worry, take a deep breath.
There’s no need to psych yourself out before a meeting, no matter how “big” or “scary” that meeting seems beforehand. But if you don’t consciously try to worry less, you may find yourself feeling terrible during the meeting and afterwards as well—even if it objectively went well.
Keep an open mind before every job opportunity and during the course of every project. You can’t predict the future, so avoid making yourself miserable with worry before you have any real reason to do so.
2. Take Time to Prepare
This is perhaps the complementary key to help you with the “don’t worry” advice. When you have a meeting, you’ll have to talk to people you don’t know well, and it might be in front of a bigger group of people. But instead of worrying about said meeting, prepare for it.
There’s a certain flow to different types of meetings. Many times, clients have never worked with a freelancer before, so you can actually be the one who sets the tone. And that’s great news for you because you’ll be the one with advance notice about what to expect!
When you carefully prepare, you can anticipate their questions and have sound answers ready. But even when you encounter a curve ball you didn’t expect, your advance preparation will give you the confidence to calmly respond, “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
Meetings with clients are really just conversations between people who care about a project. All the stakeholders—yourself included!—want to collaborate for success. And when you keep this fact at the forefront of your preparation, it is even easier to feel confident as an introvert.
3. Nurture Your Relationships
You’ll have lots of chances to meet and work with some really cool people! And if this seems like a terrible thing for a freelance introvert like yourself, do your best to welcome those opportunities.
You can build these relationships over time. And who knows? You may come to rely on some of these colleagues for professional support. The more you get to know them, the less trouble you’ll have being honest when you need alone time or when you need their help with problem-solving.
And the best part is that these relationships can help buffer you when you’re required to interact in a larger group!
When you’re nervous about a meeting or presentation, call in reinforcements! We all have at least one person we trust. Someone who is willing to be a sounding board, offer gentle feedback, or just listen to us. Ask your someone to let you practice on them.
Maybe they’ll be willing to play the part of a potential client so you can practice leading a discovery call. Or they’ll help you clarify your points before you present your finished work to your client.
It’s not really true that “practice makes perfect” (since perfection is a myth to begin with). But practice definitely helps smooth out the wrinkles and increases your comfort level!
5. Find Your Spot
As a freelance introvert, you need a space that fosters your focus and creativity. Figure out what elements combine to create your ideal work space, and incorporate as many of them as possible in whatever spot you work in. You can explore these kinds of possibilities for your environment:
- Ambient sound vs. silence
- Muted colors vs. bright colors
- A window vs. a wall with no distractions
- The right lighting
Your spot should help you feel safe and productive. It doesn’t have to be an dedicated office in your home. In fact, you can claim a small corner of a room if that’s what works best for your situation.
Plenty of freelancers identify as introverts and excel in their careers! They thrive by following tips like these and rising to the challenge.
You can, too.
Your turn! Are you an introvert? Do you have tactics for remaining calm and comfortable during a hectic workday? Share with us in the comments below!