I debated the title of this post because there seem to be a lot of articles out there about how to promote your business if you are introverted. But how many of them are written by true introverts? Well, I’m a true introvert. As proof, check out my Myers-Briggs report:
There are a lot of benefits of being introverted, but it’s not necessarily a bonus when you’re launching a business. As most introverts know, we need and like social contact, but get tapped out pretty easy. Too long socializing, and the tank runs empty. In addition, some of us have social anxiety, which means even though we need and crave interaction, we may stress out about it before, during, and after. Since we have limited social endurance, we need to capitalize on the time we spend face-to-face, on the phone, etc. But we still have to sell ourselves and our business!
We also tend to be analytical, and like to understand things before we proceed. So with that in mind, how do you approach marketing when you’re an introvert? Here are some thoughts…
Decide What You’re Selling. Sounds obvious, but it has taken me a while to really narrow down what my service offering is. In reality, I’ll do anything that sounds interesting and I can get paid (legally) for. But if you’re not spending your entire day selling and have a huge pipeline, you need to focus your message so it gets through when you do make contact with a potential customer. Otherwise you risk sounding unfocused.
Boil it down to a sentence – “I’m a virtual CFO to early stage tech companies”, for instance. It focuses on an industry (albeit a large one), a company size, and “virtual” implies part-time, temp, remote, which is what I am looking for. Having a quick summary is also useful at the networking events you’re going to attend (read about this later; start panicking now).
Learn On-Line Marketing. This also sounds obvious because dealing with the internet is a lot less terrifying than dealing with actual people. And, your on-line brand really is important these days. But if you’re an introvert, this self-promotion doesn’t come easily. Also, if you are -ahem- graying around the temples like me, you grew up with computers and the internet, but taking advantage of mobile-driven social media tools might not be so intuitive.
The knee-jerk reaction would be to hand it off to some consultant (don’t look at me) to design your web site, set up your social media presence, and even create content. I would say that is a BAD IDEA when you are starting out. First of all, even designing a basic site can help you inventory your skills and focus on what your services or products will be. Secondly, it is good to have a basic understanding of SEO (search engine optimization) so that as you create content (read further) you can tailor it to drive traffic to your site. Lastly, by getting comfortable with creating content will give you confidence about your ability to convey your message when interacting directly with people.
Also, as an introvert our calendars aren’t stuffed with networking lunches, we have time to figure it out!
This isn’t an on-line marketing how-to, but here are some tips:
Make a simple, clean web site. Just like on Tinder, people really only look at the first photo (page) before making a judgment about you. So make sure that your home page clearly spells out what you do, and that it loads fast (under 1 sec according to some SEO class I took) so people can view it quickly and understand your product/service.
Don’t be scared to post stuff on LinkedIn. Like you I get nauseated by all of the “wonderful off-site with my talented team!!! so lucky to work for this great company!!!” posts but they serve a purpose, which is to keep that person’s name in your mind.
Set up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever-is-next accounts and practice posting stuff to them. Don’t worry, no one is going to read it early on!
Create content. Us introverts aren’t brain-dead, we just don’t get out as much as some others. We think a lot, and need outlets for expressing our views. Start writing a blog about your profession, business, etc. In the on-line marketing world it’s quantity over quality, so start slinging the bullshit. I’ve even started doing quick YouTube videos under the “One Minute CFO” title. Even though I hate the sound of my voice, it’s content that will draw attention to my business.
Come up with a list of search keywords that apply to your business. Focus on “long tail” keywords like (in my case) “virtual CFO for tech companies” vs “tax preparer”; you’re not going to get on the first page of Google for the latter, but you might with the former. Once you come up with this list, you need to litter your content with these keywords/phrases so that the search engines find them.
Go to a Few Networking Events. Yup, I warned you this was coming. Really, they aren’t as scary as you think. Everyone is there to do the same thing – build their network and talk about their business. That means they are less likely to judge you on appearance, and more interested in what you have to say. I have NEVER had someone turn and walk away when I introduce myself, and I’m a fifty year old guy going to tech networking events in a city. Don’t fear rejection – that’s what dating is for. Also, remember that even though you may not be able to tell, half the people there are more scared than you are.
So strap on your Depends and red-white-and-blue terrycloth sweatband set and, armed with the following tips, you’ll own the room!
Have your one sentence pitch ready (see above)
Have a good opener. Mine is “so what are you working on?” You can use it. It acknowledges that you are at a business networking event, but does not make assumptions about what the other person does. They could be a CEO, or starting a business, or somewhere in between.
Be curious. Most people like to talk about themselves once they get going. And if you are uncomfortable self-promoting, then asking questions will keep the heat off you and give you time to think about the next thing to say.
If it takes a drink to relax, do what you have to…
It gets easier. Go to a few events and you’ll become a pro.
Do bring business cards, but I’ve found in my area (NYC metro) it’s 50/50 whether people have them or not – I’ve seen a lot of this dance you give someone your phone to enter their name as a contact in your LinkedIn account. If you do collect cards, follow up with a connection after.
Pamper the Customers You Have. Everyone says that your best source of new business is referrals from your customers. However, you need to have customers first. It took me almost a year to get my first customer. For a while I was wondering if I could get anyone to actually pay me to do work. But it happened; for me it was some way-smarter-than-me Brazilian guy in Hell’s Kitchen NY.
Once you start building up your customer roster, take care of them. Answer e-mails promptly. Do projects on time (ish). And even if you’ve completed your project, delivered your product, etc., a follow up from time-to-time keeps your current in the customer’s mind. I sent my customers a couple of branded pens a few months back, with a hand-written note. For introverts, this sort of contact is within reach.