by Allison De Meulder | Featured Contributor
Some of the most successful people I know appear to be introverts. There is an enigma that surrounds timid entrepreneurs and it is up to us to use this to our advantage, yet still exhibit our cogitative personalities.
I am a self-proclaimed introvert. When I was young I was terribly shy. Hiding behind my mother’s skirt still did not offer me the comfort I needed. Through the years, I found my voice and developed a mastery of speaking with authority (and actually enjoying it). This type of learning did not happen in a bubble. It happened with exposure, getting to know myself better, and with motivation and drive.
Many of us have that ten-year-old voice inside of us that sometimes comes out unwantedly, and rears its insecure head. It was until I started my business at twenty-three that I realized that I could retain my introvert status, yet be a functioning and successful entrepreneur.
You don’t have to be the life of the party, you just have to be a decent guest.
Often introverts are pensive and can appear brooding. This is not how I want to come off at a networking or industry event. My strategy is not to talk to as many people as possible but rather to focus on a select few. When you are in a smaller group it is easier to bring out your true personality. Perhaps have some jokes in your back pocket or a few stories on hand to tell that relate to the topic of the meetup. Personally, I am more effective one-on-one. I also find that these deeper interactions yield better business results for me.
Change the weather forecast that surrounds you.
Don’t appear unapproachable. I found that my reticence was a turn-off and creating a cloud around me that others did not want to permeate. One of the things that helped me become more approachable was public speaking. I actually have always enjoyed public speaking. Yes, I am a walking contradiction. After my talk, people would come up to me and I felt very comfortable with this. I do understand that not all introverts are comfortable with being the center of attention or public speaking. It could be something to try out in a small setting. Another way to look at things is, when you are the center of attention, you don’t have to fight for the attention that you do in a group setting. The work is essentially done for you.
Stop hiding behind Mommy’s designer dress.
Having an air of mystery surrounding you can be endearing, yet short lived. Ultimately, an entrepreneur who can exhibit transparency is able to develop a respect and following. You can be both an introvert and transparent. Just like you can be charismatic and alluring and be an introvert. I love to hole up in my office and hide behind my computer, it’s where and how I think best. It’s not easy to get to know all of the facets of me, yet I’m learning to talk more about myself, and trying is the best thing you can do. I realize that at the end of the day, the voice and image of a company is best represented by the founder. Through our social media we are transparent about what we do. With each day, and here I am sixteen years into this, I see the benefits of the company founder being that big voice of the company. So each day I try to share something about the company on the website or on social media so people can appreciate us and the work that goes into our products even more.
Plenty of contemplative thinkers and diffident souls can flourish in the business world. Just because you are introverted, does not mean that your company cannot be the boisterous popular kid.
Successful entrepreneur, creative genius, passionate leader. They may seem like buzzwords, but nevertheless they describe Allison De Meulder. In 1999 she launched InvitationConsultants.com, one of the first online retailers of personalized invitations and announcements. In 1999, she was a true pioneer. In 2015, she remains at the helm of one of the few original online invitation companies that has survived the dot com bust and the wave of consolidation in the industry. The company is still privately owned and never accepted any capital or debt.
In December of 2013, she successfully launched the wholesale line Matrick & Eve, a strong brand of paper and gifts sold in brick and mortar stores. She saw an opportunity in the market for creative, fun and unique products. The line features greeting cards, coasters, notepads, stationery, and more. In one year, the line went from zero to over three hundred stores, including museums, boutiques, home decor shops, bookstores, and stationery and gift stores, and is still growing strong.
She enjoys spending her free time traveling with her family, watching chick flicks, listening to 80’s music, collecting interior design books, walking, writing, reading, dreaming of new products, touring universities and working on interior design projects that focus on rustic chic and modern vintage decor. She and her husband have three children and four chickens.