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

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

4 Years Strong and 1 Million Cups Continues to Inspire

In 2012, The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri introduced the first 1 Million Cups program. Their mission was to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their community and resources. In 2013, St. Louis added the event to their entrepreneurial activities.

An entrepreneur myself, I first attended the event December 2014 and attended their 2nd anniversary in 2015 (read my experience here). Now, 2 years later, I have returned from their 4th anniversary with equal inspiration, motivation, and insight.

Similar to their 2nd anniversary, the St. Louis 1 Million Cups invited past presenters back for a session on what they learned, highs and lows, and advice.

When asked how their original 1MC presentation made a difference, the common reply was the unexpected reach their video provided them, archived on the 1MC site. Secondly, their presentation validated their credibility and presence in the entrepreneurial environments.

The advice shared remains consistent from 2015 with some extra considerations:

  • Be persistent; stick to your values and your vision
  • Be humble
  • Maintain your focus; life will be easier!
  • Keep getting out there; entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the phone or their devices. There is great value in meeting others, getting involved, and reaching out.
  • Surround yourself with a dedicated team
  • Be careful who you trust; not everyone will share your values and may sabotage your efforts
  • You know your business best; stick with your vision to avoid straying too far from it.
  • Apply advice with caution; while peers’ advice is well-meaning, it isn’t always the best advice. Remember that you won’t be able to please everyone.
  • If you build it, they will come; while this is the ‘dream’, it isn’t reality. Apply the wisdom above to attract the audience you desire.

When asked what fears they overcame, here are the replies:

Connie Fry of Pony Pizza Company

  • I dealt with a bug infestation in my product. It was devastating but I regrouped and overcame that issue.

Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom

  • I have a fear of failing so it’s the driving force that keeps me moving forward.

Nick Szabo of Get Swizzle

  • Becoming a new parent and startup founder was frightening. I struggled with how to take care of both simultaneously and emerged with extreme time-management skills.

Ali Ahmadi of AirZaar

  • Quitting my corporate job and the financial burden created fear for me. Also a new father, it was my child that got me through the emotional and mental turmoil.

Andrew Glantz of Gift a Meal

  • I feared my youth would be a deterrent; not having enough experience, not being taken seriously, and letting them down troubled me, but instead became the driving force to accomplish my vision.

Rob Rose of SaniTrace

  • I didn’t know anything about the food market or running a business. I taught myself while building and promoting my business.

In the short time since these entrepreneurs presented at 1MC, they have experienced growth personally and professionally. Ari Ahmadi summarized entrepreneurship best:

“Starting a business is miserable. Get up, get out and learn.”

The presenters, the audience, and I agree with his sentiments. We also agree that there is no greater satisfaction than to know we are helping to solve a problem in the world.

What problem will you solve?
Kristen Edens

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

Business Mistakes Learned the Hard Way: 5 Entrepreneurs Share their Story

Where are you in your entrepreneurial pursuits? Idea stage? Development stage? Growth Stage? Whatever stage that may be, there is excitement and uncertainty. Many of us know to seek out mentors, business coaches, and peers about their experiences and insights. For good reason too: learn from them. Listen to their advice. Take their words of wisdom and apply it to your own situation. Yet, regardless of where we are in the process, we will encounter obstacles and problems. We KNOW we will make mistakes; we KNOW there will be failure, but we fight to minimize the depth of failure. However, there are situations that pop up without warning or they creep up on us to create havoc. These 5 entrepreneurs share their story and lessons learned:

Jennifer Tamborski

Jennifer Tamborski, Virtual Admin Experts: “Hiring people and being a leader is entirely different from the corporate world. I hired employees and set them loose, assuming they knew what I knew. When they came back to me confused and lost, I realized I didn’t have the processes necessary for my employees to effectively perform their job. It’s a process I had to learn as I taught them.”

Lesson learned: a clear, concise, communication and documentation plan must be established. Follow-up with employees is just as important as follow-up with clients.


Chris MacLellan

Chris MacLellan, Whole Care Network: “My theological background inspired me to trust without hesitation. That approach to life did not transfer well to business. I didn’t discover this until I handed over the IP (intellectual property) to a business connection in which the gesture was not reciprocated. As a result, I lost lots of money and my humility. It took a great deal of time to restructure my business, much of which conflicted with my trusting nature.”

Lesson learned: Life skills do not always transfer well to business skills.


Mary Scott

Mary Scott, Make Believe TV: “Create a clear, contractual arrangement for each project which includes payment agreements and pricing for situations that influence the service offered. All decisions must be clear and understood before the project (or any part of the business arrangement) begins. If it isn’t clear, it will cost a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Lesson learned: Do not rush into a project without the proper documentation.


Angie Monko

Angie Monko, Harmony Harbor Coaching: “I jumped into business without a clear plan, quickly becoming distracted by multiple business objectives. I didn’t recognize the situation until ~18 months later when cash flow and momentum declined. It took another 18 months to create a business plan and to begin recovery.”

Lesson learned: Create a business plan, follow it, and revise as your business shifts and grows.


Paul Heirendt, True Bearing Advisors: During my corporate days, I had ‘two young guys’ working with me. They frequently joked, ‘You’re not the boss of me’, which resulted in them learning very little and becoming a liability rather than an asset. I eventually left the corporate world and took one of these young guys with me. As his urging, we moved into his uncle’s free office space in downtown St. Louis. The caveat: the uncle’s son must become the CEO of my company. With no written partnership and nearly 100% of the company in my name, I dealt with legal issues, lost opportunities, lost revenue, and lots of bad blood.”

Lesson learned: It’s better off not partnering unless each member can prove their value AND share the same business goals.


These entrepreneurs faced some crushing blows to their business growth but regrouped, adjusted and recovered. Communication and documentation were the top business issues. How can you apply their lessons? Share your ideas or stories below.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

7 Top Tips to Bore Your Readers

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You’ve heard plenty of times what makes a great blog, e-newsletter, website and social media post, right? The goal is:

  • write something fantastic—often
  • get your readers hooked—through ‘engaging content’ and snappy headlines
  • start building a relationship—through touch points (more writing)

But what really makes content uninteresting? How do you know if what you write is flat or fabulous? If boring your readers is your goal, then these 7 tips are the sure way to make it happen and to get your readers to unsubscribe FAST!

  1. Talk about you. A LOT. Don’t solve their problems. Don’t provide solutions to their troubles. Tell them how you are a great (name your profession) and that no one has the experience and talent you do.
  1. Never answer questions. Keep your secrets to yourself and you’ll never have to worry about someone sharing your solutions with their friends and family.
  1. Write long chunks of stuff. Everyone is dying to hear from you and they have plenty of time to read your wisdom. Forget about bullet points, bold, italics and anything that makes your message easier to read. Put it all out there. Scrolling is fun and good exercise for people with lots of time on their hands.
  1. Write once; hit send. You are so great at what you do, there is no need to review it before sending it out to your followers. They know, like and trust you, so everything you say will be of value to them.
  1. Spell Check? Bah! Because you are so great, your followers will forgive and overlook any spelling errors. No need to waste time on silly homonyms or the proper spelling of ‘your’. They know what you mean. If they don’t, they’ll figure it out.
  1. Basic headlines and subject lines. No need to fuss over inspiring or entertaining headlines anymore. Titles and subject lines like ‘My newsletter’ or ‘Today’s blog’ are all you need to say. Remember: it’s from YOU and everyone wants to read your wisdom now. Don’t worry about identifying who you are; they will KNOW!
  1. And don’t forget industry jargon. You’re the expert and your readers want to be wowed by how much you know. Big words are impressive. Acronyms and industry-specific words are not used enough. If your reader doesn’t know the word, no biggie—see rules #1 and #2.

I’d ask if you have questions, but this goes against rule #2 above.

If, on the other hand, you want to break all the boredom rules, attract an audience, and solve their problems, I’ll break these rules with you, too. I’m ready! Are you?

Where do you struggle with your writing and touch points? Share below or send me a note.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to

Looking for Books to Help Your Business Grow?

Gualberto107 freedigitalphotos.netOwning a business means we’re constantly learning and growing. In addition to reading countless blog posts and white papers on building, growing and thriving in a business, there are plenty of books on the subject. Below is a list of the business books I read and a brief summary on each.

Conversations That Win the Complex Sale by Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer

I discovered this book and author at the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference. Tim Riesterer presented and did an excellent job explaining the conversation it takes to make a tough sale. Not only did Tim explain the process with energy and humor, he writes that way, too. I recommend it if you struggle with making that final stretch to paying client.

Defeating an Internet Boogeyman by Mason Duchatschek, Adam Burns & Will Hanke

I’ve known Will Hanke of Red Canoe Media, for several years and we have worked on projects and workshops together. Will and his partners wrote the book to protect individuals from online attacks to their professional and personal lives. At 118 pages, you’ll find plenty of real-life experiences and easy solutions to existing or potential internet problems.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Although I read this book in 2013, I refer to it often. As an introverted business owner, there are more times than not when I must step out of my shy-shell to build my brand and build awareness. Without doing so, my business (and I) would not grow. This book reminds me that there are plenty of introverts out there and the strengths they bring to business.

Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino

I met Chuck at the Missouri Writer’s Guild Spring Conference this year and his book was the title of his presentation. Although written for authors, many of his points can also be applied to growing business relationships. Chuck’s book breaks it down into 240 pages of overwhelming, mind-boggling, how-in-the-world-am-I going-to-do-this instructions on how to build your platform. Lots of great information here, but I finished the book feeling like I was drowning.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Then Gary’s book comes along. It must be the ‘chuck/chuk’ name, but both authors discuss much of the same information. The difference: Gary makes it sound possible; anyone can do it. However, he does state that it takes A LOT OF WORK. While I’ve felt too intimidated to return to Chuck’s book to implement his ideas, I have referred back to Gary’s book often and started making an outline before I finished reading.

The 45-Second Presentation That Will Change Your Life by Don Failla

This 81-page wonder details the process and potential with network marketing. At the time it was written, online anything did not exist. The beauty of this book is that the process is just as applicable today as it was 30+ years ago. I came away with new ideas and a plan that complements the outline I created with Gary’s book.

Six books in one year may not sound like much (not counting the fiction books I read), but the information gleaned from these books has been tremendous. Pick up one or two, or all and let me know what you think.

What’s on your reading list? I’d love to hear what you read and what you recommend.

Happy reading—and writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit: Gualberto107 at

Networking Follow-Up: When is Too Soon? When is Too Late?


Networking events have become an important relationship-building tool for many small businesses. Even if you’ve been in business for several years, it’s helpful to get out and meet new people.

There is plenty of advice for how to get the best results from networking events, but you rarely hear details about ‘follow-up after the event’. When is a good time to follow-up? What method should be used?

I attended a Yellow-Tie networking event November 11, 2014, sponsored by Gil Wagner of Gil Wagner Connections, LLC. In addition to my normal goal of meeting new people and reaching out to businesses, I interviewed several attendees to get their thoughts on networking follow-up. My question: What do you believe is the ideal time to follow-up after a networking event? Which method do you prefer to use—and receive?

Bart Elfrink of says within two days is best. He suggests business people attend events with the goal of creating interest in their business but then advises to not be pushy. “If you love what you do, then share what you have. Relationships grow from that.” Bart prefers telephone over email, saying it helps personalize the follow-up.

Robert Arnone of The Arnone Chiropractic Clinic says as soon as possible. Everyone is busy and sometimes he can’t get around to it for a day or two. “Email is easy,” says Dr. Arnone, “but, phone is always better.”

Jessi Nienke of Small Business Accounting, LLC, follows up the next day. “If I make a good connection, I email right away.”  Jessi states that email is her preferred method because it provides a record of the day, time and message shared with the connection.

Tim Kilper of American Solutions for Business believes within a day or two is best, but admits that he needs to make better plans for follow-up. “Create a schedule for follow-up activities and stick with it.” Tim’s preferred method is by phone, especially if several days have passed.

Andrea Kosinski of Andrea’s Gluten Free is more selective in her events and follow-up. She’ll review the event ahead of time and attend with the intention to meet specific people. “That way I make strong connections without being inundated by the wrong target audience.”

Robert Gatesh with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc, stated without hesitation, “Within 24 to 48 hours. Beyond that, people forget.” The event creates a warm lead and waiting any longer makes that contact go cold. He prefers follow-up by phone and advises attendees to have a reason to call, even if it’s to offer an invitation to meet for coffee to learn more about a business.

My preference is to follow-up the next day. I call first but often end up leaving a voice message. Then, I follow-up with an email as a backup. Two additional tips that have worked well for me is to take time after the event to date each card and write down the event where I met the business owner. That way, I will always have a record of who, what, where, when.

But, hey, that’s the writer in me and I always enjoy scribbling helpful tidbits!

What are your preferences? Share them below!

Happy writing,
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit:

There and Back Again: A LinkedIn Journey to Top Contributor

6290003115_7788c41563_qHave you ever wondered what it took to reach Top Contributor and what you really gain from that status? As a recently certified profile writer, I felt it was important to understand the process, but also because I’ve received several questions about the effectiveness of LinkedIn for business. Therefore, I established an experiment to uncover what was required to become a top contributor and what benefits would result from that status.

Before my experiment began, I belonged to 39 groups. I was involved with 10 of those groups to rank in the ‘finding an audience’ and ‘making an impact’. This came from sporadic engagement of four to five times per week, with a few minutes here and there. From those 10 groups, I chose my five favorites based on topic, business-related information and lead potential.

My process began by commenting on 5 to 10 existing discussions and leaving more than ‘great post’ or ‘thanks for sharing’ comments. I wrote 5 or more sentences to answer questions, offer advice or share an experience. I made Top Contributor (TC) in 2 days with each group. Then I started my own discussions on each group. However, initiating discussions alone does not maintain TC status. Depending on the group, I could forgo interaction 2 days before my superior status slipped. I discovered that I could post one discussion and comment on 5 or more existing topics daily without affecting my status. Anything less dropped me to a lower level.

The results: after 30 days of 2+ hours/day, my profile views increased 400% (from 4 to 20 at my peek). I also gained 11 new connections, 10 of which were outside of the USA.

The benefits: Once I reached top contributor, my picture was posted as one of four top contributors. As long as I maintained TC status, my picture remained visible.

My favorite part of the experiment was when other readers appreciated my advice or wisdom or that they ‘totally agreed’ with me. It kept me going.

I received two service inquiries and one said he’ll, “Keep me in mind.” The other never responded after first contact.

The downside: I was sent 16 pieces of junkmail from group members and gained 2 LinkedIn groupies. Before long, the groupies followed the same groups I did and liked or commented on every discussion or comment I made.

I dropped one group at 22 days, another at 28 days. I was burned out by week 3. By day 30, I dreaded the time drain it took to maintain TC and quit commenting as frequently. I became a weak memory in those groups 2 days later.

Lessons learned:

  • Work on one group at a time!
  • Dedicate no more than 30 minutes each day.
  • Explore groups—you aren’t locked in for eternity.
  • Learn what you can! There is A LOT of great people out there who are willing to learn, share and help. That was the part I enjoyed the most. Connect with those that you believe will be beneficial to your growth and knowledge.
  • Move on if desired.

What LinkedIn experiments or discoveries have you made?

Happy writing!

Kris the Scribbler

photo courtesy of Sheila Scarborough



Looking for Business Feedback? Body Language is a Cool Tool

  • Knowing our audience.
  • Understanding their needs.
  • Finding their pains.
  • Identifying their weaknesses.

Some of this can be learned just by observing a prospect’s body language.

Even if you think you don’t read or understand body language, there are basics you pick up on without realizing it. Consider these scenarios:

  • You meet someone at a networking group and you share your tagline with each other. How will you know if the person is interested in learning more about you? What facial visual cues will you observe? How will his posture reflect his interest?
  • You’ve already had two phone conversations with a prospect and now you are meeting to discuss details about a service she’s going to purchase from you. You’re ready to close the deal but she’s hesitant about something. How can you tell? What actions or cues are you observing that give you this hint?
  • You’re attending a trade show and you’re booth is looking great: you’ve got your newest products, your handouts are displayed prominently and you even have a free giveaway. But people pass your booth by. Do they look at you? Your booth? What is happening elsewhere?

But remember: body language works both ways. Think about what your behavior and actions are telling others. Do you look interested? Friendly? Professional? Desperate? Are you smiling? Are you distracting yourself—with your cell phone or something else? Are you approachable? Are you invasive?

Body language reveals a lot about ourselves and others so how can we apply this to our business and our professional lives?

We already implement services such as surveys and questionnaires but getting out and interacting with our clientele and our prospects enhances the experience.

As you get to know your ideal customers, watch their body language. If someone is looking unhappy, uncomfortable or uncertain, respond to it. Find out what they need. What is the source of their problem? Ask them their opinion on how you and your business can help. Not only will you gain insight into your product and service offerings, you’ll gain several blog topics to write about. Your discoveries can lead to social media posts and news to address in your newsletter. Remember: anything can be content and body language interpretation may be one of those secrets that give you unexpected results. Use these tools and what you learn to become the solution provider they need.

If this still leaves you a little baffled, take a look at the Body Language Cheat Sheet. Read through this then study the next group of people you mingle with. Experiment with different events and settings: church, malls, clubs, parties with friends, networking events, and others. We reveal ourselves differently in each location.

What discoveries do you make?

Peace and plentiful writing!



Know-Like-Trust is Important for Interviews too!

When you hear the word ‘interview’, what comes to mind?

  • Sitting in front of a panel of strangers hoping to impress them enough to hire you
  • Being swarmed by a horde of reporters shoving oversized microphones into your face while bombarding you with nagging, invasive questions

Either scenario conjures up sweaty palms and elevated blood pressure.

There are, however, opportunities when interviewing can be fun, effective and beneficial: for an upcoming blog article, ask-an-expert for a newsletter, or to get feedback about your latest product or service. To make these interviewing experiences stress-free, applying a few lessons from the ‘know-like-trust’ approach makes the process easier for the interviewer (ER) and the interviewee (EE).

In general,

  • people like to talk about themselves
  • everyone has a story to tell
  • everyone has an experience they want to share
  • everyone has an opinion
  • they are eager to share, but protective of their knowledge

Sharing with friends and family is easy, but outside that circle, it takes a little nudging and a lot of trust and confidence to get people talking.

Let’s say you want to interview an expert on interviewing techniques for small businesses for the company newsletter coming out in 5 weeks. Now is the perfect time to begin and that starting block activity is:

  • Call the interviewee (EE)

While it’s tempting to communicate solely through email, the strongest action is to call. Why? This is your chance for a personal introduction. This gives the EE a chance to hear your voice. You instantly become a real person, and your voice is that first recognition point.

  • Introduce yourself

Along with voice recognition, knowing who he will be interviewed by makes the process less of a mystery. Tell the EE your name, your business name and your title, if applicable. The more he knows about you professionally, the more at ease he will feel.

  • State the purpose for your call

Let the EE know that you will be interviewing him for the upcoming newsletter. Keep it simple and brief. Remember: This is ONLY an introduction, NOT the interview. It’s tempting to initiate the interview now to spare time and hassle later, but take a deep breath and save all the critical questions for the main event.

  • Set up the interview time.

Here’s the tricky part: make it work around his schedule not yours! If your EE says Thursday evening at 10pm is the best time because that’s when the family is in bed and he’ll have some quiet time, then agree to it.

Arrange an interview at least three days in advance, if possible. This gives everyone time to think about the interview, review questions, research, and think about replies.

  • Ask their preferred date, time, phone number and contact method.

Some will prefer cell phone, others their home phone. Some prefer speaker phone and others still through skype. Whenever possible, perform the interview in person or over the phone. A person’s voice and body language is more expressive and informative than Q&As through the email or surveys.

  • Give hints of the questions to come

Each interview will have different questions, but the basic format is to ask a few questions about the EE’s experience and training, how it relates to the specific topic and how his answers will help the readers of the upcoming newsletter. As an extra bonus, tell the EE you’ll follow-up with an email that outlines some of the questions you’ll be asking. Why some of the questions? Because if you conduct the interview well, some comments the EE makes will inspire other questions from you. Ask for the preferred email address in order to send the interview details and questions for the interview.

  • Give an estimate of the interview length.

Thirty minutes is an acceptable timeframe that most people can fit into their busy schedule. Also add that the session may go longer based on response and additional questions. Your EE will appreciate this tidbit.

  • Ask him if he has questions or concerns.

By this time, you will have addressed the major issues that come with being interviewed. If there are additional questions, answer them briefly and honestly.

Here’s a sample script for the introductory call:

“Hello Steve,

This is Kristen of Kris the Scribbler and I’ll be interviewing you for the upcoming article on Interviewing Techniques for Small Businesses. Is there a time and day in the next week that will be convenient to conduct the interview?…

That’s perfect. I’ll give you a call on Thursday, 6:30 Eastern time. Do you have a preferred phone number you’d like me to use?..

I’ve got it. I’ll also use this number to call on Wednesday for a reminder…

I’ll send detailed questions in an email, but the basics will deal with your expertise on the subject and how it applies to small business. Do you have a preferred email address you would like me to use?..

Thank you. The interview will last about 30 minutes but may vary depending on your replies and additional questions or comments that may come up for either of us. Do you have any other questions?..

Thank you for your time. I’ll follow-up with that email shortly.”

  • Follow-up with an email summary

Once the introductory call has ended, send out that email within an hour. Be sure to summarize everything you discussed, the details of the interview, and include all your contact information—invite the EE to research you, too! Copy and paste your basic questions (about 10) into the body of the email. This saves the EE a step, building that trust and comfort further.

If the interview is scheduled through a third party, repeat the process with this person as well and send everything off to anyone involved in the process.

As the day of the interview approaches, rehearse your questions. Research your EE. As you learn more, scribble down additional questions that come to mind. If there is time, ask a few of these.

One day before the interview, call to remind your EE. If you reach voice mail, leave a message.

Example: “Hello Steve. This is Kristen from Kris the Scribbler and I’m calling to remind you of our interview scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday at 6:30pm. If you have questions or concerns, call me at… Thank you for your time.”

The day of the interview: call a few minutes early. Avoid giving your EE any reason to become angry. Even one minute late could lead to resentment when his day is already busy. All that comfort and trust you built up could fizzle in less than 60 seconds.

During the interview:

  • Avoid all that cheesy, “Hi, how are you?” stuff. That’s just filler that signifies nervousness or unpreparedness. Take charge, but be friendly.

“Hi Steve, this is Kristen. Are you ready to begin your interview?”

  • Ask if he has water or something nearby, explaining that the process can create a dry mouth and having something to sip makes the process easier.

Start with simple questions such as something you discovered while researching your client. I once discovered an EE had a hobby of skydiving. I opened with that—something she loved—even though it wasn’t related to the interview’s purpose. It immediately eases the EE and gets you right in the mode for the main questions.

  • During the interview, let your EE talk!

Avoid interrupting unless he gets way off target. If he does, ask a question about something earlier in the particular answer that gets you both back on track.

  • Write or record the answers.

Recording is best, but if that option isn’t available, write—fast! If you can’t keep up, let your EE know that you’re taking notes and will be ready in a moment.

Most often, interviews go longer than the estimated time. If this happens to you, provide a reminder at 35 minutes. If the EE is sounding stressed, rushed or tired, offer to call back at another preferred time. If the session is going well, then continue, saying that you’ll provide another reminder at 20 minutes. Make sure you do all the work, keeping the EE’s schedule and comfort the top priority.

When you have exhausted your questions, ask if there are any last minute comments he’d like to add—either about the interview or anything else that interests him.

Thank him for his time and offer to send a copy of your notes to him—you’ll be creating an outline of the session anyway. Your EE will appreciate this unexpected bonus.

  • End the session.

Make sure the phone, recorder, skype or chat screen is closed before breathing a sigh of relief! Grab your soda, chocolate, beer or take a walk and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

  • Give all that information time to simmer.

An hour or so later (not too long), review your notes, pencil in forgotten or overlooked thoughts, make comments in the margins. Then rewrite the whole thing to make it legible—with the speed the answers were fired back at you, your notes will look a little jumbled. Neaten them up before you forget their meaning.

Though the interviewing process can be intimidating for both parties, the method above makes the event easier for all. Give yourself plenty of time to apply these steps and your interviewee time to prepare. When it comes to your business and theirs, we all want the connections to go well!

To your interview success!