Seeking Work/Life Balance? The Family Phone Tree May be the Place to Start

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create” ― Jana Kingsford

You are a busy person: you juggle client calls, appointments, and projects on a daily basis, sometimes simultaneously. Similarly, you field random calls and requests from family members that range from rants, venting, or general (unimportant) information. Yes, there is the occasional emergency, but the likelihood of a true emergency tends to be low.

Most often, family calls are predictable, based on plentiful past experience so when their call arrives in the middle of the work day, we’re faced with a few options:

  • Answer immediately because it’s always a joy to speak to this person.
  • Answer immediately because this particular family member rarely calls and it could be critical.
  • Cringe and decide: do we answer knowing the call is a false alarm?
  • Let the call go to voice mail because we’re working in our business.

When was the last time you pressed your way through a company’s phone tree system? These automated recordings are designed to efficiently direct us to the most knowledgeable or helpful person to handle our need. While they are an annoyance, and I’m not convinced this is efficient for us as the caller, there must be some time savings for the business. Following a recent series of distracting calls from various family members, I wondered how this system would work with the family. Would this feature simplify the work/life balance for a business owner wedged in the Sandwich Generation? Here’s how mine would sound:

Hello my dear Family Members. I’m sorry I cannot answer your urgent call at this moment, but I’m involved with clients at this time. Listen to the following options to best serve your needs. Please listen to the full menu as our options change frequently.

  • Mom/Dad, press 1
  • Spouse/partner, press 2
  • Son/Daughter, press 3
  • Sibling, press 4
  • All other family members, press 5

(You will need to personalize your family phone tree for best results.)

Beyond the first level of categories, there would be some similarities. Here is how I would define level 2:

  • Press 1 if you are calling because someone won’t eat their dinner.
  • Press 2 if the family member won’t complete their chores.
  • Press 3 if another family member is annoying you.

You’ll also need to include additional categories for each group:

For your parents (in my case, my mother), I need to include:

  • Press 4 if this is a news flash about April the Giraffe
  • Press 5 if this is regarding the latest political gossip
  • Press 6 if you are worried about something

For your partner/spouse, include:

  • Press 4 if you want to discuss what to have for dinner
  • Press 5 to compare the latest story from our children
  • Press 6 if you want to tell me details about your latest World of Warship battle

For Son/Daughter, include:

  • Press 4 if you are complaining about work
  • Press 5 if you are venting about life in general
  • Press 6 if this is a request for money
  • Press 7 if you are seeking advice which you plan to ignore

For those that receive the rare call from extended family members (cousin, aunt, estranged family member), this signifies something potentially critical, so it’s wise to answer immediately.

Regardless of which direction the person-in-question blunders through the family phone tree, they must record their message, which will then be queued in order of pre-determined urgency. Then on a break, you can address the issues in order of importance.

There are many joys to being a business owner and working from home, but dealing with family members is one of the darker sides of business ownership. It’s best to treat with love, patience, a bit of humor, and the family phone tree. Would such a system improve your quest for work/life balance?

Perhaps there’s an entrepreneur out there who recognizes this need and is building a prototype now!

Kristen Edens

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Tweet Chats: A Great Resource for Continuing Education and Relationship Building

My first introduction to tweet chats occurred out of desperation. I wanted to attend a blogging conference and couldn’t arrange the time, travel, and expense around my business life and caregiving life. I was rather discouraged that I couldn’t attend and jumped online to research alternatives.

While visiting the blog conference’s twitter page, I noticed a tweet that invited followers to a tweet chat. After a quick search to discover what a ‘tweet chat’ was, I decided to give it a try.

A tweet chat is a live Twitter event, usually moderated and focused around a general topic. To filter all the chatter on Twitter into a single conversation a hashtag is used. A set time is also established so that the moderator, guest or host is available to engage in the conversation.

*Hint for newcomers: high tweet volume is expected. My advice: read fast!*

Even though my meager attempts to reply to an interesting thread were way behind the initial post, I learned A LOT, gained several new followers and have found many more Twitter Chats to enjoy. They have become a weekly source of continuing education, relationship building, online networking, also leading to increased reach and exposure. Another benefit is a crash-course lesson in Twitter. I have almost mastered Tweet Chat (a platform that streams chat feeds in a neat and orderly manner) and recommend you use this or a similar tool to simplify the experience.

Here are my favorite chats to date (February 2017):

#blogchat Sunday 9pmET/6pmPT: founder and moderator Mack Collier introduced this chat to discuss blog-related themes from idea generating, blogging platforms, tools, trends, best practices and much, much more.

#blogelevated Monday 10pmET/7pmPT: Blog Elevated is a chat, conference and Facebook community dedicated to bloggers and influencers.

#blogher17 Tuesday 1pmET/10amPT: is a chat dedicated to women bloggers and the annual BlogHer conference. Their mission is to create opportunities and build exposure. The topics cover issues related to these goals.

#contentchat Monday 3pmET/12pmPT: Erika Heald moderates this chat which brings together content creators and content marketers to share their challenges and best practices.

#cmworld Tuesday at 12pmET/9amPT: sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute, participants discuss the latest trends in content marketing and receive advice from experts.

#smallbizchat Wednesday at 8pmET/5pmPT: Launched by Melissa Emerson, this chat is a peer-to-peer mentoring program to help entrepreneurs get answers to their small business questions.

Watch your Twitter notifications for all the people who commented, retweeted or followed you following the tweet chat. It’s a good place to return after you’ve caught your breath, your heart rate has returned to normal, and you can respond in a calm manner. Here’s a tip: a lot of chat participants will continue to respond over the next 24 hours. You won’t be the only one needing to breathe and catch up!

Each of these chats are focused on my professional interests, but there are hundreds of chats covering an almost endless supply of topics. To view what’s available, Twitter Chat Schedule is an easy way to search.

Just beware: tweet chats are addicting! Do you have a favorite chat? Share it below!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Tag! You’re It. Who’s the First Responder with Email Introductions?

S. Miles hands fdp.netWe love them. We crave them. There’s satisfaction in knowing we help bring two people or organizations together that could benefit each other. There’s joy knowing that someone introducing us to a business peer trusts us enough to connect us with their friends. Now that you’ve got an introduction, however, what’s next?

It seems obvious, but three weeks ago I responded to an introduction and still haven’t received a reply. Similarly, the person who introduced us reached out to me yesterday to ask how it went. I was embarrassed to tell her that the other person had yet to reply. My thoughts were:

  • “Should I try again with this connection?”
  • “Who is the more logical person to reach out—me or the introducer?”
  • “If the third party isn’t interested in responding, should I drop it or try again?”

Once again, I reached out to my connections for feedback. Here are a few replies:

Mike Dunn of Cadence Technology Services doesn’t believe others will take the first step so he responds right away.

Eva Tucker of Knews.co will send a short message to show she is a part of the conversation and to show interest. She’ll wait for the other person to respond to her brief reply before acting further.

Linda Shedlofsky of Radio Arts Foundation feels that introductions are important for any business that wants to grow. Her advice is to not ignore or delay a response.

Cole Jacobs of Cole Social Media believes the lead should be taken by the one who needs it most.

Harriet Schneider of Red Thread Marketing offers excellent advice: “As business owners and business people, we all have our fair share of cold-calling to do. And most of us are not particularly fond of it. So when someone provides me with a ‘warm’ lead by introducing me to a potential client, quick follow-up is key to developing a professional relationship.

Within 24-hours, if I have been given a phone number I will call that person. If I’ve been introduced via e-mail, I will reach out electronically. If I get no reply, the contact goes into my CRM and is attached to an activity series for continued follow-up.

When it comes to follow-ups, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. Make sure that, as you continue to reach out, you do so with content and information that will be perceived by your contact as valuable.

When I make an introduction, I like to follow up a few weeks later to offer help but to also see if the introduction was helpful. This is also a relationship-building touchpoint that keeps everyone top of mind and may lead to referrals.

What are your thoughts? What are your habits? Do you have a preference? Do you immediately follow, connect, or do you wait? Comment below and share with your connections.

Kris the Scribbler

(photo image courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

Skip’s Tips for Business Success: Be Personable

Stoonn from fdp.netWhat do you do when you’ve had a tough week at work, projects fall through, a client is unhappy or family is driving you nuts? We all have our coping mechanisms and one of mine involves calling my friend Stan ‘Skip’ Jechura of All Safe Inspections in Toledo.

I recently had a week that was testing me in every way possible. After my usual mix of coping skills (chocolate and exercise), I called Stan to vent and, as always, he was a good ear. He listened. He responded when needed. He didn’t pump me full of unwanted advice. In less than thirty minutes, he had me laughing and feeling much better.

After catching up on his latest adventures, I asked him how he does it—how can he take a conversation that was full of anger and discontent and then get the person relaxed so fast. His answer was quick and serious, “I’m personable.” He explained that his father had taught him that people matter and knowing how to talk with them makes living and working with everyone much easier. “Take time to listen. Observe and learn. Then give back what you can see they need.”

Looking back all those years I’ve known Stan, it was true. Stan had always been fun and easy-going, but also shared a wild and crazy lifestyle with my brother. Even though I was the shy and obedient best friend’s sister, Stan knew how to talk to me and relate with me. “I give everyone the same level of time and attention,” he says.

Stan recalled an incident of a young mother selling a house as her four children ran around. “She was struggling to keep things clean and controlled while I inspected the house. I told her some stories about the trouble I caused as a child and despite that, I grew up to own my own business. Soon she was laughing and no longer stressed.” The result: the young mother referred two new clients to Stan.

Another story occurred when Stan visited the home of a disabled elderly man. The man was lonely and desperate to talk to someone. During the visit, Stan learned that the man was having trouble reaching into his chest freezer for food. Once the inspection was completed, Stan rearrange his chest freezer and listened to the man’s stories for another hour. The result: the elderly man contacted the realtor with a rave review. He is now the top inspector for that realtor.

“Everyone, everywhere has struggles. I do my best to keep my clients smiling while things are running rampant around them.”

How do you keep your clients smiling? Remember: you have the solutions to what keeps them up at night and a story or shared experience may be all that’s needed to make a connection.

Happy writing,
Kris the Scribbler

(photo image courtesy of Stoonn at freedigitalphotos.net)

Skip’s Tips for Business Success: Be Available

freedigitalphotos.net--Danilo RizzutiWhatever business you’re in, you’re going to have competition. Some businesses win the customer by word of mouth, reputation, or being in the right place at the right time. Others, get the business because of one key factor: availability.

A family friend and fellow business owner, Stan (Skip) Jechura often gets clients by simply answering the phone. As owner of All Safe Inspection in Toledo, Ohio, Stan has experience unexpected growth since beginning his business in 2012. When asked what his biggest asset to gaining that growth was, Stan explained, “When people need an inspection, they often need it right now!” Clients are provided a list of home inspectors by their realtor, and it’s the client’s responsibility to make an appointment. Because property sales aren’t final until the inspection report is complete, clients have no time to waste. They’ll forgo research and start calling the names on the list. “Clients will hire the first inspector they reach,” says Stan. “My schedule fills up fast because I answer the phone.” After some inquiries, he found out that he was usually fourth or fifth on the list, but answering the phone got him the job. The result was word of mouth referrals by happy clients and Stan reaching the top of realtors’ lists.

Stan adds, “I carry my phone all the time and avoid voice mail as much as possible.” He tells the story of a recent event in which he received a phone call at 2:45am and still answered, “ASI Toledo, this is Stan, how may I help you?” The potential client laughed, but then stated she just had a question and didn’t expect an answer until several hours later. Because Stan had answered at that hour, she hired him on the spot.

Stan advises business owners to keep business phones separate from personal phones so that you never have to screen calls. Any call that comes on your business phone is a potential client, and that’s a worthwhile return on investment.

What can you do to be more available to clients? Do you have a story to share? Comment below.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to Danilo Rizzuti of freedigitalphotos.net

 

LinkedIn Connections: Begin the Relationship with Your Invitation

Are you on LinkedIn? If so, you’ve probably accepted dozens, if not hundreds of invitations to connect through LinkedIn. Once you connect, what happens next? Do you maintain the relationship or are they soon forgotten? Most of the time, we forget them. Don’t let that happen! Begin building your relationship touch points with the invitation.

Here’s what the basic invitation looks like:

linkedin-vitation

Notice that including a personal note is optional. Instead of using the standard reply, as seen above in the box, give your invitation a little personality. Consider these examples for varying scenarios:

Introduction through a networking meeting:

Hi Sharon,

I enjoyed meeting you at the Networking after Work event last night. Your expertise on graphic design is right in line with what my clients say they need. Please accept my invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Thanks!
Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Introduction at a conference, seminar or similar event:

Hi Mike,

Your presentation about social media, blogging and content at WordCamp was exactly what I needed. Thank you for answering my questions after the session. I’ve got a better understanding on how to tie them together.

I would enjoy connecting through LinkedIn.
Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Connected through a LinkedIn group:

Hi Nancy,

I’ve read many of your discussions in the Entrepreneurs & Startups group on LinkedIn and continually learn from your posts and comments. I would like to connect with you to keep in touch.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Found through a search:

Hi Bill,

I discovered you and your business through similar LinkedIn connections. My clients are always in search of marketing experts and I believe you would be a good resource to have. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

You have 300 characters to work with, so begin building the know-like-trust now. Then once your invitation is accepted, don’t end it there. Follow up!

  • Send a thank you note.
  • Ask who makes an ideal connection.
  • Ask how you can help.
  • Visit their website—if they offer a newsletter, sign up! If the connection matters, what will it hurt to receive their e-newsletter? It builds the relationship, increases k-l-t and increases touch points.
  • Make a comment/leave a comment when they post something on the LinkedIn home page.
  • Leave an occasional comment on their blog.

If your invitation comes from a 2nd degree connection, it’s okay to ask if you were referred by a shared connection. That way you can thank the friend—which also continues building the relationship and adding to your touch points.

The process is the same if someone sends you an invitation. What impressions do you get when someone provides more detail in their invitation? Are you more likely to accept? Does it give you a perk in the day? Accept the invitation, if desired, but then send a message to get to know your new connection better.

Once that is established, add the person to your email list and share information you think that person will enjoy. It may take a while, but you’ll eventually be able to recommend, endorse, refer, share or outsource to that new connection. And that makes everyone happy.

Relationship-building begins with an invitation and a few words…up to 300 characters to be exact! What can you do to increase your touch points? Got comments or questions? Share them below!

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

Thought Leadership: What is it and Why Do I Need it?

thaikrit at freedigitalphotos.net

Now here’s a buzzword that has many small business owners scratching their heads AND wondering how to incorporate yet another task into their role as business owner.

After a little research, I found several definitions on the phrase but settled on the two which I thought best summed it up. For a detailed, corporate-style definition, go with Denise Brosseau of Thought Leadership Lab:

Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success.

If you want it between the eyes, with a little more hard truth (and perhaps a touch of luck), then Mashable’s guest blogger Lauren Hockenson defined it as:

Do something everyone else in your field thinks is dumb, and be right about it.

For small business owners, thought leadership is what we strive to obtain in order to:

  • build your image as an expert
  • become known, liked, trusted
  • make a difference in your industry, your connections and yourself

So how do you do this without losing our mind and gobbling up your time? You’ll find lots of information online, but it boils down to two main objectives:

Share your knowledge:

This is where your content becomes critical. While the internet and social media make it easy to share your knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm, WRITING IT is where the headaches occur.

Your connections and clients want content that educates, inspires and informs. People have problems and they want solutions now. You have the answers they seek, but must get the word out to them. It’s a vicious loop, but never fear: you already know several simple solutions to common problems in your area of expertise! That’s important information to blog about. Share it through your social media channels, send an email to your connections, build some social media posts around your answer. Find a way to tell a story around your solution. For instance, here’s one I encountered last week:

I wanted to add a banner image to my social media profiles, but didn’t know how to format them appropriately. I tinkered to the best of my limited technical knowledge, then got too frustrated and called another connection to help me. A week before, I met Don Hawkins, of Don Hawkins Photography, at a Networking Geniuses meeting. In his elevator speech, he mentioned his expertise in creating professional images for social media sites. I called him late afternoon on a Friday, told him my issues, and he had them formatted to the correct size in a matter of minutes (check out my LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter page). Once the task was completed, I asked if he encountered this a lot and his answer was yes. Don now has a great blog post—and call to action—for connections wanting a banner image!

What common issues or problems do your clients encounter? Listen. Ask. Explore. Then write. Tell those stories. Share the solutions. Then—BAM!—you become a thought leader. You may not reach the coveted national or international level of thought leader, but reaching that status among your connections and your geographic region is a great place to start—and a great sense of accomplishment.

Share your joys:

You love what you do otherwise you wouldn’t have built a business around it. Thought leadership is a way to express your enthusiasm for what you do, which in turn, attracts future clients. Let your personality show in your content, your messages, and your work and people will remember you. You’ll be the one they seek when they next encounter a problem they KNOW you can handle!

THAT is how you become a thought leader.

Do you struggle telling your story? Do you need help finding ideas and solutions to become a thought leader? Share your ideas, comments or problems below. Or, send me a note and I’ll help you get started.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo image courtesy of thaikrit at freedigitalphotos.net

Social Media vs. Email: Which Content Plan Works Best for You?

Online Mkg by Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.netThis topic comes to you courtesy of MediaPost.com and their recent article entitled, Hoping for Social: Depending on Email and based on the 2015 Marketing Trends infographic at Strongview.com. The article opens by saying “Social media is the second most popular marketing tactic…” Though the article is based on research of companies with at least 100 employees, my question is how do small businesses and entrepreneurs factor in social media and email into their marketing efforts?

According to the article, for the companies with all those great employees, their biggest obstacles related to social media success are:

  • employee skills
  • measuring effectiveness
  • creating a strategy

As small business owners, we’re often a one-man-band handling these same issues on our own.

The set-up: Most of us have the standard social media plan: LinkedIn, Facebook business page and Twitter. Those who are really savvy probably have a YouTube account, Google+ and Pinterest, but how effective are these for you? Which are you actively involved in? Which platform best reaches out to your target audience?

And how does this compare to your email marketing activities?

Of all the methods just mentioned, email is the oldest form of online communication—but not by much. We are all capable of sending and receiving emails that we now prefer email contact over cold calling or follow-up phone calls. Just as with the larger companies, email marketing is an easy way to keep up with customers and connections. Social media is quickly growing to be the top outreach method, but we just aren’t comfortable with it yet.

It’s all about comfort: For me, blogging and emailing are my two main activities for keeping in touch. It could be because I’m a writer and I’m very comfortable writing. The important thing to remember is to go where your ideal audience is and to do what makes you comfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone takes time, but it will come if it’s important to you, your audience and your business.

And ease: My social media activities are focused on LinkedIn. Why? Because—for me—it’s an easy and immediate way to connect with people I meet through local networking groups and national organizations. From there, I extend those relationships by joining LinkedIn groups that complement my specific audiences. It takes time, but this activity has created business for me. The other platforms (and yes, I have accounts in all those mentioned above), are slowly working their way into my monthly agenda. However, it’s a matter of comfort, familiarity, and scheduling that keeps me focused on what works. But remember: what works for me, may not work for you—and that’s okay!

As small business owners, what are your social media and email preferences? Which marketing tactic is your strength? Why? What plans do you have for branching out in 2015? Please leave your comments and ideas in the section below. I’d like to write a follow-up to MediaPost’s article, but from the point of view of small, one-man-band business owners.

And if you’re considering LinkedIn for your 2015 marketing plan and would like to update or improve your profile, I’m offering $50 off profile writing services (regularly $325).

Happy writing—and reaching out!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit: Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net

Stepping Out: Breaking the Boundaries of Shyness

I just finished reading the book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

In her book, she states that “one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts”. Do those numbers seem low to you? How do we know if someone tends to be introverted if that person practices daily to hide that trait? It isn’t something to be ashamed of, but when it comes to the business world, one must step out every so often to let others know about their business.

As the author goes on to explain, we all exhibit tendencies toward both introversion and extroversion, but some of us display these traits (visibly or not) more often than others. What this means is that there will be times even the most outgoing person will have difficulties presenting himself at one point or another.

When I was 8 or so, I was on a swim team. I loved swimming, I enjoyed training and I even enjoyed the competition. The only thing that held me back was my shyness: I feared standing out in a crowd; I feared being the center of attention.

When it came time to race, I became so nervous I barely heard the starting gun—though I never jumped the gun because that meant more attention on me. I didn’t hear the crowd, or the announcers, or my coach. And I often finished 2nd. Looking back, that’s probably why I was always second: Number One got all the attention and the spotlight; Number Two was soon forgotten.

Sometimes I look at my past and my tendencies toward shyness and wonder why I would pursue my own business when that meant REALLY standing out! Was I crazy? I knew what was required to own and run a business, yet I still pursued it. As Susan Cain mentions in her book, several introverted people pursued their desires despite their shyness and gave us great inventions, works of art or literature. Where would we be without Dr. Suess, Chopin, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, and several others?

In the business world, whether introverted or extroverted, we must stand out, be remembered, be likeable and stick our neck out higher than anyone else. Networking meetings, presentations, and conferences are just a few ways to be visible. Other methods include marketing, communication through online and offline methods, chat groups, webinars, and much more. Just think how terrifying cold calling is for many of us!

If one method is more troublesome for you than others, then turn your attention to another technique for now. For instance, if making a 1-minute presentation at a networking meeting is worse than a root canal for you, then find a local networking group on Linked In and become involved that way. Get known, be visible—online—and once you get to know several local business owners, find a networking group many will be attending and meet them there. It will be like a reunion, still a little awkward, but you’ll already know several attendees and they will know you.

Another technique to try is through your marketing and communications. If getting out and meeting people is a nail-biting experience for you, then give a little extra time to writing content that tells a story that you aren’t quite ready to do on your own. Then post it here, there and everywhere: social media, website, blogs and guest-blogging, newsletters, invoices, and more. As with the Linked in groups, you’ll develop a group of readers and then when you do meet up with your clients, you have something in common to discuss. You’re likely to have ideas for your next blog, newsletter or press release to hint at and develop anticipation for your listener.

Once you finish a meeting and you’ve successfully said hello, listened and chatted with one or two other business owners or clients, head back to your office or home and reward yourself! Chocolate. Beer. A bubble bath. A favorite movie. Blaring your favorite song. Whatever it is—do it! Enjoy and celebrate your success.

After 40-some years battling the shyness bug, you’d think I’d have conquered my fears. I still have my ‘moments’ but I always have chocolate handy! Then I remind myself that I’ve never been attacked or maimed or shunned through all those shy episodes. It took me awhile to realize this and someday I’ll tell the turning-point story. But here is another secret I’ll share: no matter how nervous you are, no one else needs to know. Write it on a piece of paper and hold it in your hand or place it in a pocket. There is no need to fight it but also no need to let it take over. There are many people who need your specialties. Go get them!

What about you? Do you fear cold calling, public speaking, the 1-minute elevator speech? How do you face it? If you’d like to learn some more of my techniques for reaching out or how to write content that speaks louder than you can, send me a note. I’d love to share more ideas.

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kristen McLain