Copyright 2006 Sandra P. Martini
Have you ever walked into a networking event full of strangers and wished you could be anywhere else?
Traditional business building rules tell us that we need to network. Attending a charity breakfast where you give a 2-minute spiel on your business, community luncheon where you eat rubber chicken and another cocktail hour where you feel like youre on a speed date going from business owner to business owner with barely enough time to remember their names, much less make a great impression.
It doesnt have to be that way!
Years ago, while deeply involved in Corporate America (I still shudder when saying that phrase), I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator a personality assessment. My fears were confirmed: I am an introvert (actually, an ISTJ for those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs). High level summary introverts are people who recharge their energy from within while extroverts get energy from people and other external sources. I am one of those people who draws energy and ideas from solitude and reaching within my own psyche.
Depending on the situation, everyone is both an introvert and an extrovert. Put me in a room with some of my friends and I take on the persona of a stand-up comedian. Put me in a large conference room where I know nobody and am not presenting and I become the silent wallflower.
Given the choice, I prefer to be with a few close friends rather than at a large party where I know no one. While Ive been told Im an excellent public speaker (birth by fire in the corporate world does wonders), it takes a lot of energy for me to get in the zone and I have learned to do this by being well-prepared on the topic and discussing things Im passionate about.
The following marketing techniques are some that I have used successfully and are designed to work for the introverted among us.
1. Participate in online forums and discussion groups.
Its easy to be authentic and true to yourself while marketing your business by participating on online forums such as Yahoo Groups. You can spend as much or as little time getting to know the other small business owners, virtual assistants, etc. as you wish. There is no face to face, will they like me?, will they trust me? type of feeling. You can take your time in responding to those issues that interest you, rather than feel on the spot like you may at your average networking event.
I belong to several such groups and have met many wonderful people this way and have learned much from different business owners. Its a great way to pick the brains of people in the same situation as yourself.
2. Write articles.
Take advantage of your writing skills and write and submit articles online. One of my clients was doing some research for her business and told me shed seen one of my articles on www.killermarketingarsenal.com. The next day I received a notice from www.sbinformer.com (a small business site) asking permission to use another of my articles. As a direct result of my writing articles, I now have an audience that I may have never otherwise reached. You never know what search engines just might pick up on your article, or how your information could be valuable to someone else.
3. Know your strengths.
Successful marketing requires that you know your strengths and your weaknesses. Take time to ask friends, family, and others what they feel are your greatest strengths and weaknesses. You might be surprised to discover that what you thought wasnt a talent is perceived as such by others. When you find yourself in an uncomfortable or nerve-wracking situation, focus on your strengths. You will be naturally more at ease when discussing something thats aligned with your passions and that you have learned is valuable to others.
Have you ever thought about something so much that when it actually happened it felt like dj vu? Visualization is a great tool that allows you to script out an event before it happens. Just think you can anticipate the challenges (for example, no one speaks to you when you arrive) and plan how to overcome them before they occur. Plan ahead for various situations and scenarios to avoid being caught off guard.
5. Stick to your values.
Its important not to try and change yourself in order to successfully market your business. You will be most effective when you allow the natural you to come through. For those of us who are introverts, that means establishing a marketing plan and environment that supports us as well as follows the path by which we mean to grow with.
Go get em!