Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confessions of an Introvert: An Interview with Author Meghan Wier

I'm delighted to be able to introduce you all to a compelling new title just out this month by author Meghan Wier--
Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl's Guide to Career, Networking, and Getting the Most Out of Life.  I dunno, I could be wrong, but I'm thinking this might be a read of real interest to our kind here. :-)

Meghan is an author, freelance writer, corporate blogger and Web consultant living in Fort Mill, South Carolina with her husband and son.  She researches and writes about Search Engine Optimization, business networking, relationships, career choices and strategies for introverts.

Meghan was kind enough to allow me to snag her during her busy launching month for an interview.  Being introverts, we did it by email, of course.

SVP: What was your personal catalyst for writing Confessions of an Introvert?

Meghan: I was working with dozens of small business people in my job at a web development company – and so many of them were struggling with the “basics” of business. They wanted to just do what it was they were good at… but they were missing things like networking, and self-promotion. I wanted to help them with what I had learned.

SVP: Your book proposes to help the reader separate "shy traits from introverted ones." Can you say a bit more about that? How do you differentiate between shyness and introversion?

Meghan: I see introversion as a physical reaction to being around people… i.e. introverts find it exhausting to be social – even if they are ok with doing it. Shy people do not want, or know how to behave in public in a way that represents the real them. They are profoundly self-conscious and are affected by a feeling of inadequacy about it. Many introverts are shy – but not all of us – and shyness can be worked through as confidence is gained… but even the most un-shy introvert will still be drained after a day of networking or socializing.

SVP: Your "About the Author" piece describes you as an "introvert/forced extravert". Can you explain what means? Does that mean that during your work day, you push yourself to live outside your comfort zone for the sake of business?

Meghan: Yes, for the sake of business (or talking to the other moms at the soccer game) I do have to step outside my comfort zone. I take on the persona of an extravert. I still am drained by other people, but I now know ways to accommodate the feelings I get from “social interaction” – like taking a walk alone in the middle of an event, or planning alone time before and after.

SVP: You seem to have a very busy, active, and "out" professional lifestyle. Would you prefer more writing time and solitude time, or does your balance work for you?

Meghan: I did not set out to be so “public” but as a business person, I saw this as such an important aspect of success. People need to know you, and like you to do business. As human beings we are more likely to work with someone we have a relationship with – and to have a relationship (any kind…), you have to put yourself out there. However, I do also lead an anonymous, quiet, loner life as best I can. If I am not meeting, or working, or promoting, or networking… I am quite happy to be alone – to write or just be with my family. Balance is VERY important to the introvert, especially if a big portion of your time is spent in those “forced-extravert”activities.

SVP: What are your favorite recharging activities?

Meghan: Checking email (but not always responding), writing, sitting outside on a sunny day, being w/ my family, or napping!

SVP: What advice do you have for an introvert who's work team is primarily extraverted?

Meghan: Participate as much as possible. If you are always the one who doesn’t do lunch with the team, or speak up at a meeting, or let yourself be the “wall-flower”you will be seen as an outsider—and then feel left out when you aren’t included. You need to focus on building strong relationships with your team—and for you this may mean getting to know each one individually, so that when they are in a group, you are not as overwhelmed by them. BUT… also take and savor the time you have before and after work to recharge so that you will be better able to be an active member of this group.

SVP: If you could have dinner with any introvert in the world (past or present), who would you choose?

Meghan: I have heard that Barbara Walters is an introvert… I would love to hang out with her for an hour.

: Conversely, any extravert whom you would you love to sit and pick their brain?

Meghan: Wow… maybe Martin Luther King Jr… I would just like to know how he was able to accomplish so much, and what he would think of our country today.

SVP: Is there any work-related area that continues to be a real challenge for you as an introvert?

Meghan: Setting up meetings and talking on the phone with new people… I hate talking on the phone. I will do almost anything to avoid it.

SVP: How will you use what you've learned about yourself and introversion to help you promote your new book?

Meghan: The biggest thing is to breathe—literally and figuratively. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and then excited and talk so much I lose my breath. Also—I have learned not to take anything too personally – good press, bad press, constructive criticism, etc. Everyone will always have an opinion and that is their right. As a shy, introverted person, I take the critical things to heart, and if I am going to have the other things in life I seek – i.e. success in business and life, then I need to be able to take the good feedback and the harsher criticism and grow from it—and move on!Meghan is currently working on her second book on introversion and relationships.

In honor of Meghan's book launching, we are pleased to be able to give away a copy of her book to one of our readers.  To enter to win, we are looking for your best piece of advice for a new, introverted author in her first month of publication.

Best of  luck to you, Meghan!  Thanks for all your efforts and guidance on behalf of Shy Girls and Shy Guys everywhere!

Mary Hershey


laurasalas said...

Great interview! And the book sounds terrific, too. I like her realistic approach--not trying to change who you are, just coming up with good strategies to work with your strengths and weaknesses.

My advice for newly published introverts? 1) Practice smiling and saying thank you in front of a mirror, so that you don't hem and haw and brush it off when people congratulate you. And 2) Come up with your one-sentence Elevator Pitch for your book and practice it, too. That way, when someone asks, What's your book about?, you have an answer ready and won't blush, stutter, and fumble. At least not as much:>) Oh, and 3) Mark your calendar for several days off doing whatever YOU want to do once your first heavy duty month of book promotion is over. I've got three days marked off on my calendar--my first three days off in I don't know how long. I can't wait.

Terry P. said...

Terrific interview, SVP. And I'm looking forward to reading the book.

My initial advice is to do as much as you can to cyber-promote your book (ie, blog tours, blog reviews, web interviews, website updates, blogging, etc.) so you can have the benefit of book exposure without ever leaving your bunny slippers.

However, you WILL be asked to make personal appearances, so plan in advance (pull out that calendar) so you have your "talks" down pat, and can allow daily "you" time in the midst of your events (there is nothing as rewarding as retreating back to your private, hotel room after a busy day on the road whre you can unwind and recharge).

Something else I do whenever I've got a busy schedule (ie, I just got back from a week in Oregon doing school visits), is to look at the calendar and remind myself that it's all temporary--I literally tell myself "In XX days, this will be over and I'll be back in my bunny slippers and not have to be the center of attention." I'm always amazed at how just saying that aloud calms down the panicking introvert in me.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

This sounds like a great book--something I need to read! For me, even leaving comments on blogs leads to heart palpitations. My advice is to practice, practice, practice. Comment, make your own blog, be active on Facebook; they are all, in their own ways, being out there.

Augustina Peach said...

I just found this blog - what a great idea! I am so intimidated by the thought of having to promote my book I have seriously considered not even trying to get it published.

The irony of it all is that I am a speech teacher. Here's a tip I give to my students to help them deal with their stage fright (and it's actually helped me get through 20 years of teaching): Act. When you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, think of a character who would be more comfortable in that situation and act like that person. Put your energy into playing the role rather than into worrying about being nervous. Usually you can fool most audiences!

Greta Marlow

Jen Robinson said...

Great interview! I especially liked the part about avoiding talking on the phone (I was so relieved when I first learned that other introverts have this issue). And I like the classification of Introversion as a physical thing, something that you just can't help, and have to work around.

As for tips, I'm not an author, but I am introvert who is forced to travel a lot for work. My best advice is, even though it seems counter-intuitive, to schedule a little extra time in your trips. Don't do one night in one hotel, the next night in another hotel, etc., if you can avoid it. The only way that I can make business trips bearable is to make sure I schedule enough recharge time. And a hotel room is not much of a haven if you check in at 8 pm and check out at 8 am. I've found that a socially acceptable (and true) excuse for cutting out early is to say that I have to go exercise - people tend to understand that better than "I need to go and sit in my room alone".

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I'm no expert, and I don't know how helpful my tips would be next to someone who literally "wrote the book" (especially when she already mentioned my favorite tip: Breathe!).

But here goes: Don't think you have to be perfect at everything. There are so many options for promotional activities; nobody can do everything all the time. Figure out what your priorities are.

Thomma Lyn said...

Thanks for the interview, Meghan!

And as an introverted author whose debut novel will be released in the spring, I'm brainstorming promotional possibilities left and right. As I contemplate what's ahead, I swing back and forth between excitement and EEK! ;)

The key will be to see book promotion as a challenge to rise to, instead of as something to dread. Challenges are cool -- they help us grow.

jeanreagan said...

My first book will be out in June. Prior to that, I'm attending a few conferences, book-signings, and author events as an OBSERVER to nurture a sense of comfort before my own "show time." I'm not yet sure whether my advice will work for me or anyone else. I'm desperately hoping it will!

Mary Hershey said...

What a collective wealth of great guidance, everyone! Thanks so much-- we may need to compile these for a future post for those that don't read our comments.

Mary Hershey

Meghan Wier said...

Hello All, and thank you for your great comments - one more to add to those of you who are publishing or have published books... get book signings scheduled. Now the idea of a signing can be a tough one, (I know it scares me) but it gives you the opportunity to sell more books and work with the store, who will order several copies beforehand. AND my best tip - invite your friends! Have them "drop by" there thoughout the signing so you have someone to chat with if there isn't anyone interested in buying. Just them being there will create a "buzz" and draw people, and it saves you from being the "introvert sitting alone behind the table." Make it a fun event for the people you know.

Best of luck to all of you and feel free to contact me directly at anytime.
- Meg

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, I am an unshy introvert. This interview really resonated with me. I'm in the middle of planning promotion (from another continent, no less!) for my first picture book and have taken the day today to slowly read through many of the posts here at Shrinking Violet. Thanks so much for all this insight and encouragement!

Katleen Garcia said...

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