Can a shy person succeed in marketing?
November 25, 2008 2:52 PM   Subscribe

I have a degree in marketing but since graduation have worked in other jobs including basic web design. In one job I was able to do some public speaking, but I am quite introverted by nature (what they call an INFP type) and according to online careers advice would be suitable for being a social worker, teacher or psychologist. However the ENFP type (the only difference being extroverted versus introverted) makes a great match for marketing jobs. 1) Is there anyone out there who works in marketing and is shy? What do you do well and what do you avoid? Is there a career niche where shy people can do well? 2) Is it possible to become more extroverted and if so what helps? Any online resources or books anyone would recommend? The only one I know is and I worry about forking over £65 only to find out I bottle out of doing the assignments they set.
posted by AuroraSky to Work & Money (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Introverted does not necessarily mean shy. Introverted means that, most often, you expend energy while interacting with others and then need to "recharge your batteries" by being alone -- while an extrovert usually gets charged up by interacting with others and drained by being alone.

So step one is understanding your own needs. Being an introvert does not mean you can't be as outgoing as anyone else, but (for example) you'll probably need to allow for more alone time to recharge than an extrovert would.
posted by winston at 3:36 PM on November 25, 2008

Marketing is a spectacularly broad term these days & it kind of depends what you want to get into really - there is a lot to choose from.

- Agency side vs. Client Side
- Above the line vs. below the line
- Product Mgnt vs. Comms Mgnt vs. Strategic Marketing vs. CRM vs. Marketing Mgnt vs. creative development vs. technical development

Particular types of people are more suited to different roles, but I'm not really sure that introverted or extroverted people (or a measure of shyness) would be the best yardstick I'd choose use to judge someone's ability to do a job successfully.

Something like a Belbin profile will give a more aligned view of your working style to the requirements of any particular role. If you're a strong completer/finisher type, then comms management is probably more suited to you than if you're a strong plant (creative) type.

Find out what particular working style you have, and see how well it matches the requirements of a particular job. The closer your working style matches that of a the job you're doing, the more naturally you'll produce expected results & feel like you're swimming with the current.

A recruitment consultant or career advisor/counsellor should be able to help you through this.
posted by MatJ at 4:00 PM on November 25, 2008

Check out Toastmasters if you want to overcome shyness. I'm pretty sure there are branches in the UK. It's fun and a great way to get beyond being bogged down by introversion.
posted by anadem at 4:17 PM on November 25, 2008

I'm also an INFP. I've had jobs that involve a lot of social interaction- talking with committee members face to face, leading multi-hour meetings, project planning with coworkers. I find that I'm quite capable when it comes to these tasks (I really love talking out problems with people), but the result is that after a long day of interacting at work the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is socialize. If it's been a really crazy day I won't even pick up the phone if it rings.

This may or may not be a problem for you, depending on how important your social life is (keeping in mind that my level of introversion is not necessarily yours). I usually set aside one day per week to focus on tasks that don't rely on extroversion to give me a break. When you're looking at jobs, asking about the duties required in the position will give you an idea of how much you'll need to recharge at the end of the day and you can decide if it's worth it in the long term.
posted by Mouse Army at 4:53 PM on November 25, 2008

I'm an INTJ who enjoys public speaking, schmoozing at conferences, and all that. The trick is to have on-demand access to a quiet, secret room in which to hide and recharge.

I wouldn't let a personality label deter you from working in the field you spent a lot of time and money preparing for. As other commenters point out, marketing is a huge field with many different types of jobs. For example, I did fine as a home-based copywriter (I burned out on it for reasons unrelated to introversion).
posted by PatoPata at 5:01 PM on November 25, 2008

I came in here to post basically what winston posted above, it's dead on and almost word for word what I remember the speaker going over from one of those workshops.

I am introverted (tested INTP/INTJ for the record), and I LOVE public speaking in a work setting, especially software training. I get my energy back from doing internal things, such as reading or internetting. Anyway, public speaking is a thing you need to practice, just like everything else. I wouldn't rule out jobs based on that alone... just know what your limits are.
posted by smalls at 5:03 PM on November 25, 2008

P.S. while I am borderline P/J, I am not borderline introverted. I'm pretty far up there.
posted by smalls at 5:05 PM on November 25, 2008

I'm an INFJ and I worked in marketing. I really enjoyed the opportunity to be creative, and to work with people all over the world.

It seems that most of the marketing jobs that I see these days are either focused on sales/marketing or creativity/marketing - I was focused on the latter because we had a separate sales force.

I found the creative side of marketing to be fun and dynamic. I worked with all types of media - radio, TV, internet, print - so it never got boring.
posted by Ostara at 5:15 PM on November 25, 2008

I agree with anadem about Toastmasters, it's a great thing to check out. There is a club in every area and membership isn't expensive at all (it's actually quite cheap). I am also an INFP and I once interned at a newspaper. They told me that I needed to work on my people skills at the end of the internship and suggested Toastmasters. It's a great way to practice public speaking, evaluating others' speeches, leading meetings, telling jokes and thinking on your feet. With Toastmasters you get to practice these roles so much that they become second nature, and the beauty of it is that it's a supportive learning lab since your fellow members are also there to improve their skills as well!!
posted by starpoint at 5:16 PM on November 25, 2008

While I find written psychological profiles of my Myers-Briggs type to be eerily accurate descriptions of me, I think they kind of fall down a bit when it comes to recommended careers. I am thoroughly unsuited for most of the careers recommended for my type.

Not saying you should or shouldn't be in marketing, but don't let the letters INFP be a big part of that decision.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 5:19 PM on November 25, 2008

ISTJ here, and I was going to say what user was fined for this post said. ISTJ describes me to a tee, but only one of the career paths fit me. i always ignore that part of the assessment.
posted by alice ayres at 5:42 PM on November 25, 2008

I think a lot of your answer is going to depend on the people you work with. As an INFP you are going to be a part of a group, which balanced correctly by personality types, can flourish. If it is a mismatched set you will find less productivity and possibly unhappiness. I would not look at this as what you are but the group of people you will interact with. At the end of the day, you need to do what your heart tells you- after you are there work to find the people to blend with.

I've built a lot of good groups by using the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), as an INFP you are an integral player no matter where you end up. This is especially true where marketing is concerned as the best groups have a diversified mix working on a common goal which is usually aimed at the masses... and those masses have INFPs which need representation by a person just like you.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:11 PM on November 25, 2008

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