Claire Deane is a self proclaimed introvert with an extensive career in marketing, who has founded her own creative marketing and PR agency Deane & Co, and co-authored a book on building a business and managing your energy. We spoke to this sunny Brisbane native on how to create profound relationships and be successful as an introvert.
After a long stint in marketing for various industries, what made you decide to break off on your own and start your own business?
I burnt out after working in corporate and to be honest I didn’t enjoy or want the pressure of managing anyone anymore. That’s when I started Deane & Co which has now been around for more than 2 years and focuses on lifestyle and not for profit brands. It’s awesome to be your own boss, though I soon realised it’s not scalable to work just on your own and be able to grow. I now have a team of two other introverts who have incredible strengths in marketing, content and strategy and we play off each other.
What exactly is the difference between extroversion and introversion and do you think the latter creates a disadvantage when it comes to collaborating and working with other people?
Introversion isn’t about being shy – it’s where you get your energy from. Extroverts draw their energy from other people and introverts do so by being on your own. One of my ‘things’ is pottery – I just came from a class and even though I’m bad at it, it’s one of things that I do for myself.
It’s a scale – you can be an introverted extrovert and vice versa or someone who is extroverted in certain situations and in others situations be really introverted, and that’s who I am.
I’ve not found it to be a hindrance in building my career. Introverts are normally more emotionally aware and are deeper thinkers. We don’t want to just talk about the weather, we want to know what your deepest problem is, and that’s where lies the real value in working as an introvert, and what has helped truly connect me with my clients and my team.
Has there been instances where your working style hasn’t aligned with your team?
When I was working in property, it was a real boys club and there’d often be after work drinks. I couldn’t think of anything more hideous than spending more time with the people I’d just spent my working week with, but that’s where the deals were done. Now that I’ve been able to start my own agency, I’m able to choose who I work with and the clients that we work for. I’ve been able to build a career on my own terms, and working that way allows you to adapt to your own work style and to create a business that works for you.
What makes a successful introvert? What are the skills that you possess that others don’t that make you exceed at business?
The ability to process things, and be less reactive. It is that emotional intelligence that allows us to be deeper thinkers. We know how to get to the heart of our client’s problems in a direct way and ask questions that they haven’t been asked by other people.
At most networking events, if you pay attention, you’ll find that most people really just talk about themselves. You’ve got a real edge if you go in and ask deep questions, try and understand why people really like or dislike a certain thing. Introverts are more about one on one. Knowing yourself and how you work best is the best way to build real relationships.
Understanding yourself and how you work best also makes you successful as an introvert – if you know that you’re never going to be the person who goes out every night after work, wheeling and dealing, then don’t be that person. Build your career in a way that doesn’t make you feel burnt out, but that helps you to thrive.
For any business to grow, having a solid network is invaluable. What’s your advice for those who don’t thrive in group environments yet still want to make meaningful connections?
Do it in a way that works for you. If you have to attend a meetup or networking event – set yourself a goal, ‘I’m going to build one really great relationship at this event’. There are loads of new ways to network these days. It’s worked for me to email someone and ask them for a coffee rather than hand out a tonne of business cards.
What kind of support is out there for introverts?
I have made a lot of my connections online, and built relationships with business people, both introverts and introverts alike. Those relationships have been incredibly valuable to me. You don’t have to go to big meet ups and can have those one on one relationships that get much deeper. I’m also a strong believer in a mentor-mentee relationship; I love being able to learn from someone and bounce ideas off them.
Successful people such as Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling and Elon Musk are all well known introverts, and I think there’s a plethora of ways you can build a business in a way that works and is comfortable for you. I feel I have a strong network that has been built on deep connections which is why we’ve been so successful. Whatever your personality type, it’s always important to push yourselves in some situations to get what you want.
Connect with Claire on LinkedIn here.
Photography by Savannah Van Der Niet.