Are you an introvert? Then you probably feel the need to be alone from time to time, and you rather think than engage in smalltalk. Not sure? Take a test and tell me your result in the comments!
Introverted business owners often struggle with marketing. Especially business owners like me, who run small places that don’t have a “sales” department. The idea of “selling” alone makes us cringe. But so does the corporate environment of gregarious shoulderslappers who constantly quiz you about your weekend plans. It’s exhausting to walk through the hallways, trying to keep a smile plastered on your face, forcing yourself to laugh and chat. Eventually you got tired of being a team player.
So now you have your own business, and you can run it the way you like. Quietly. But how are you going to get the word out? Don’t fight your nature as an introvert. Instead, use your special skills and stand out!
Consider that you’re not alone–at least one third of the people you meet are introverts, too. I’ve said before that you don’t need to treat introverted people differently from extroverted ones. Extroverts love to hear themselves talk, and the introverts you meet will feel at ease with you quickly. Just ask a few questions, and listen closely.
The best way to network is one-on-one, and that’s where the introvert has an advantage: you actually like to listen. After you ask a few questions, and get an idea of who you are talking to,
2. Be Honest
Your business connections are tired of hearing sales pitches and they’ve become so jaded that for you it’s easy to stand out just by being honest. Everybody has heard so many empty promises that they’ll be happy to know you. Because it’s you who will tell them whether the product you’re offering really is right for their needs.
Make sure you’re not overly humble–being honest means to really be aware of what your business’s strengths are. Explain them concisely! I promise, it will get easier over time. Just stick to the facts.
As an introvert, you don’t like to promise anything unless you’re sure you can do it. Great! Stick to it. Don’t copy the overpromising techniques of extroverted salespeople. It doesn’t serve them as well as they want you to believe anyway.
Do exactly what you promised, whether it’s a follow-up call, a report, or finishing a project at a certain time. Whenever possible, do a little better than your client expects, deliver before the deadline. You’ll quickly gain a reputation of absolute reliability and the gregarious extroverts among your clients will start doing your marketing for you!
4. Social Media
In order to get the word out, you’ll have to talk to people. Probably you don’t like that much. Then type! Social Media is not about advertising, it’s just about making connections to real people. People like you. A lot of my Twitter friends are introverts: check out @AskAaronLee as a great example for someone who is introverted and very successful on social media.
You don’t have to be on Twitter.
Of course you’re on Facebook. Please don’t give me “I don’t want to be on Facebook. Everybody is on Facebook, and I don’t want them to know what I do.” People only know what you tell them, and you really don’t have to post your relationship status.
Check out LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+. And after playing around for a while, use Facebook to stay connected with people you know, and use other social networks to connect to new people. I know it sounds daunting at first… but it’s either this, or you have go network in person. Every day.
While you’re getting to know people, “liking”, “plussing”, “pinning” their posts, you’re learning a lot about blogging. Automatically. Everything I know about blogging I learned via Twitter.
But I don’t want to overwhelm you. Just keep in mind a blog is a good idea, and makes it easy for potential customers to find you.
Find something remotely related to the industry you’re in, and volunteer in functions where you can’t help but meet people.
Networking is easy when it’s for the greater good, and a lot of networking organizations offer opportunities for introverts. I was the treasurer for RED Group for over a year, and then became the chairperson. Who would have guessed? When I first joined, I had a very hard time talking to people, but as treasurer, I had a job to do and it became easy.
Now I lead the meetings, and seem to be doing well. I know that my speaking skills (in English! Woohoo!) have improved a lot. It’s suddenly very easy to explain to clients what I do.
I don’t go to all the mixers and socials. For me that’s too exhausting. It doesn’t matter much–having a leading function as a volunteer gets me in contact with plenty of people, so I don’t have to “socialize” much.
I had the idea for this post because I started reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Check it out if you still need to be convinced about your special introvert powers!
Are you an introvert? What is it you can do better than extroverts? Please comment!