Effective and impactful ecosystem building requires making a lot of connections in order to connect the founders, entrepreneurs, and innovators to the resources they need. It’s a valuable and essential element of successful ecosystems. But, for many among us, those of us who are introverts, the effort that it takes to connect, socialize, go to events, put on programs, etc. can quickly become stressful and overwhelming.
You see, we introverts are wired differently than extroverts – literally. Research has shown that the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions, is more reactive in introverts and more easily overstimulated and overloaded. We introverts are also more sensitive to the neurotransmitter dopamine than extroverts and too much dopamine stresses us out. What that means is that social interactions drain us and we end up with what some call an introvert hangover, a feeling of fatigue, stress, anxiety, inability to think clearly, and even physical symptoms like headaches. To recover from that we need to recharge, process/unpack, think.
Because ecosystem building has unique challenges for introverts and I know that there are a lot of other introverted entrepreneurs like me out there I wanted to explore some tips and hacks that my fellow introverts can use to take care of ourselves so we don’t get burned out.
At the recent Startup Champions Network (SCN) Summit in Portland, I caught up with fellow introverted ecosystem builder Rick Turoczy and asked him his top 3 general tips for introverted ecosystem builders.
Rick’s Top 3 Tips for Introverted Ecosystem Builders
- “Don’t feel like you need to do things en masse. Do things one on one. That’s a lot more comfortable.”
- “I always recommend that people come up with scripted responses for the questions they often get, so they aren’t taken aback by something. It actually helps them set their confidence level a little bit higher.”
- “Don’t overdo it. I think people get into situations where they feel obligated to do things but they should take the opportunity to ‘check out’.”
And since we were at a summit where there are typically hours and hours of social interaction and activity that can be especially draining for introverts, I asked Rick for his top tips for introverts to deal with summits and conferences.
Rick’s Top Tips for Introverted Ecosystem Builders at Conferences and Summits
- “Plan ahead. Don’t think that you need to talk to everybody. Pick a few people that you want to talk to and get them one on one where you feel more comfortable and confident.”
- “Don’t be afraid to ‘check-out’ if you need space. I always try to get a hotel room near the space or find a quiet space where I can get away and recharge for a little bit because it’s totally draining.”
So, if you’re an ecosystem builder who also happens to be an introvert, accept that fact that you’re wired differently than your extroverted ecosystem builder colleagues. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Adjust the way you operate to match the strengths that introverts bring to the table (and we do have superpowers of our own). In your daily work, give Rick’s tips a try. If you’re going to a summit or conference like the upcoming ESHIP summit, don’t feel like you have to connect with dozens of other ecosystem builders. Strategize and plan ahead and give yourself permission to check out and recharge when you need to.
Do you have additional tips and tricks for introverted ecosystem builders? Let us know in the comments below.
You can learn more about Rick’s insights and his introverted approach to entrepreneurial ecosystem building in this fantastic TEDx Portland talk he gave recently.