Some people are genetically wired to be more socially anxious than others. As humans, we care about our reputations. It’s a normal reaction to worry about what others might think of us and be fearful of their judgments of us.
Those of us who are a little shy, or little introverted, or trying it for the first time, self-marketing can seem a truly daunting task. For many people, the thought of putting ourselves “out there”, marketing ourselves, can cause the same fright/flight response as we would from fighting a giant bear.
But here’s the good news. First, genetics plays a huge role is social anxiety, so the fear of failing or being seen as ridiculous is a very normal reaction. Second, it happens to more people than you think. And third, anyone can market themselves, even if it doesn’t come naturally to them.
After all, John Lennon was getting sick before most performances despite his talent, if Paul McCartney can still get stage fright, there’s no need for the rest of us to feel bad about it.
The problem isn’t you!
You should know: the problem really isn’t you!
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain highlights how introverts do things differently from extroverts and how they can leverage their power.
So if you’re thinking that self-marketing isn’t really something you can do, or the thought of putting yourself out there scares you more than a trip to the dentist, try these tips. They certainly helped this introvert carve out her business and help her clients shine.
Find the fear
When you’re uncomfortable marketing yourself, try to figure out what the obstacles are.
What is it that causes you to hesitate? What are you truly concerned about?
Only when you know what it is you fear will you be able to find ways to overcome it.
Practice your spiel
Steve Jobs rehearsed his famous speeches and practiced them for weeks in advance. Practicing reduces anxiety and increases confidence. However you choose to market yourself, give yourself time to prepare yourself.
Preach to the right audience
If you believe in your business, then you must believe that your business will help the people you’re marketing yourself to. Find the right audience, and if you’ve done this well, they’ll be interested to hear what you have to say. And if not, most of them will be very polite about it. There’s less you need to fear than you think.
Remember how good you are
Just because you may not be an extrovert doesn’t mean you can praise yourself for your achievements. How far have you come? What obstacles did you have to overcome? What has helped you stand out? What do you love about yourself and your business? Listing your achievements will help you gain more confidence.
Be consistent and don’t give up
Master Yoda’s epic words, “Do, or do not. There is no try” hold value for the introverted business owner. Market yourself consistently, and keep going. Marketing isn’t something you do once and then forget about; be consistent, whether you’re choosing to market yourself on social media, at networking events, or through other means. Building a network takes time, so does creating a stable marketing foundation.
Focus on different types of activities
Introverts, embrace that reflective part of yourself! If your strengths aren’t in extroverted marketing activities, direct your energy elsewhere.
- Find smaller networking opportunities, or focus on engaging with just a few interesting people instead small-talking with the entire room.
- Connect with others in a way that’s less overwhelming: If the dialogue of social media takes up too much of your energy, try content marketing, creating a blog, or just interacting with readers of your newsletter.
- Manage your time: Group taxing interactive activities in one or two days, so you can get things done uninterrupted the other days.
- Manage your energy: Make time to reenergize yourself in a less overstimulating environment after a draining marketing activity.
Keep a little of yourself to yourself
In marketing, you’ll hear people telling you how you should be doing things, how you should be selling, getting personal, pushing, putting yourself out there, being authentic, sharing everything.
That send shivers up your spine?
Pick and choose how and when you interact: you don’t have to share everything. Build an intimate and loyal audience in a more private medium, like a newsletter or blog. Share only what you’re comfortable sharing; authentic means being true to yourself, not emulating the social media gurus of the world.
Do it your own way
Regardless of how introverted, shy, or cautious you are, what’s important is figuring out what works for you – and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Trying to force yourself into situations that make you really uncomfortable will only sap your energy and morale.
So do it your own way and play to your strengths.
If it’s not working, try something else. You’ll soon find the right self-marketing technique that works for you and that you enjoy doing. In time, this will become second nature.
Carole Alalouf is the President and founder of Exaltus, and primary contributor to the Exaltus blog. In her Content Marketing role, she focuses on turning her clients’ complex information into a compelling story. Carole particularly enjoys visual storytelling in the form of presentations, whiteboard videos, websites, and infographics. Sign up to her email list and get powerful marketing tips in your inbox, 2-3 times per month.