Are You an Ambivert? The Little-Known Personality Type that Makes Freelance Success Easier

Many freelancers are ambiverts, not introverts.I used to be an introvert. When I was a kid, I was so shy that I would hide behind my mom when people came to visit us—even people who I knew. I like to be around people, but I don’t need or want to do this too often. I get energy from working alone on things I care about. And I go out of my way to avoid conflict.

These are all classic characteristics of introverts.

But I’m also assertive and willing to take risks. And I make decisions quickly.

These are all classic characteristics of extroverts.

So it turns out I’m actually an ambivert. You probably are too—because there are more ambiverts than introverts or extroverts.

What’s an Ambivert?

Ambiverts are part introvert and part extrovert. We’ve been around for a long time, but have only recently become widely recognized, thanks to research by people like Adam Grant, PhD, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Susan Cain, author of The New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-founder of Quiet Revolution.

Grant found that two-thirds of people don’t strongly identify as introverts or extroverts. These people are called ambiverts, and they have characteristics of both introverts and extroverts. “If you are an ambivert, it’s much easier to be a successful entrepreneur alone.” Many successful entrepreneurs and effective leaders are probably ambiverts, say Grant and others.

Even psychologist Carl Jung, who developed the concept of extroverts and introverts back in 1921, said that people aren’t purely extroverted or introverted. Another psychologist, Hans Eysenck, came up with the term “ambivert” in 1941. Eysenck said that ambiverts offer a balance between the hypersensitive nature of some introverts and the domineering attitude of some extroverts.

“Ambiverts fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed,” says Cain.

Success Comes Easier to Freelancers who are Ambiverts

Ambiverts are flexible and adaptable. We know when to talk and when to listen, unlike extroverts who tend to dominate conversations and introverts who are too quiet. These characteristics help us succeed in freelancing.

One of the greatest advantages of being an ambivert, says Grant based on his research, is the ability to shift between showing the strengths of an introvert to showing the strengths of an extrovert. And we can do this at the right time.

In research on salespeople, Grant found that ambiverts outperformed both introverts and extroverts. Ambiverts pulled in:

  • 24% more revenue than introverts
  • 32% more revenue than extroverts.

“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” says Grant.

Freelance Marketing for Introverts and Ambiverts

Being an introvert—or thinking that you’re an introvert—makes freelance marketing harder. Freelancers often tell me things like:

  • “I don’t like putting myself out there”
  • “I hate selling myself.”
  • “I’m an introvert so I’m not comfortable with marketing.”

But if you’re actually an ambivert like most people—and not an introvert—then you already have characteristics that will make marketing easier. You just need to recognize this!

If you are an introvert, shifting your attitude from “I hate marketing” to “I can do this” will help—a lot!

Marketing for Freelancers

Whether you’re an introvert or an ambivert, effective marketing for freelancers doesn’t require you to “sell yourself.”

Direct email is one of the most effective ways to get high-paying clients, and it’s comfortable for introverts and ambiverts.

In networking, focusing on giving more than you take, or helping others without expecting anything in return, is much easier—and much more effective—than trying to sell your services. And volunteering for professional associations let you make key contacts and get more referrals without having to make small talk with strangers.

A client-focused Linked profile and website pre-sell your services, so that when the client calls you, the conversation will be much easier. And if a client is reading your LinkedIn profile or website, he/she may just send a message or email instead of calling.

What Are You?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or an ambivert (or possibly an extrovert). What does matters is knowing your personality—because you’ll do your best work when you can draw strength from your personality instead of fighting it.

Find Out What You Are

Take The Quiet Revolution Personality Test to find out whether you’re an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert.

Stretch Your Personality

Once you know what you are, figure out ways to tap into your strengths. And know that you can stretch your personality, like Cain and I have.

“Until a few years ago, I was terrified of public speaking, and I am still amazed that such a giant fear is conquerable,” says Cain. “During the last few years, I’ve given hundreds of talks, a fun fact that would have astonished my childhood—even my 40-year-old—self.”

My story is similar to Cain’s except that I haven’t given nearly as many presentations as she has. The first time I gave a presentation at a conference of a professional association, I held onto the podium with a death grip. But I forced myself to do more presentations, and I learned as much as I could about presenting.

I definitely stretched the extrovert parts of my personality to get to the point where I now enjoy presenting. Still, I’m a little nervous right before I start a presentation.

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Learn More About Ambiverts and Freelancers

Featured Resources

The Quiet Revolution Personality Test

Quiet Revolution

WorkLife with Adam Grant, TED podcast: “Is your personality flexible?”

Larry Kim, “Why Ambiverts Are More Successful and Influential Than Extroverts”

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