Can You Survive Being an Introvert in Business?

Being an introvert is great if you work by yourself, at your home office, or even in a office or cubby hole.  But no matter what your business is, at some point you have to come out and talk to people.  In order to be successful, you will have to engage with people either by phone, one on one meetings, or delivering speaking engagements.  You must rise to the occasion if you want to develop clients and drive your sales.  But what do you do if you are uncomfortable talking to people?  What if you are an introvert?  Or even worse basically “shy”.  I think introverts can manage the interactions if they have too, but shy people have a tougher time because they not only hate it, they get anxious about it. Social anxiety is not pleasant.

If you look at the two people in the blog title picture, it is probably easy to see who the introvert is, but they look like they are having a great meeting.  So can you.

You may be surprised to know that many of the people we admire in the online business world who lead seminars, do videos, coach, will tell you that are actually very shy and are introverts.  They have to really step up to be able to speak on stage.  But they do.  Why? Because they know if they don’t they cannot engage with their customers and get their message out.  The secret is trying to find how to stretch your comfort zone without making yourself crazy.  I have heard that what does drive introverts to stretch is their passion for their business and wanting to help others.  Choose the moments that will have the most impact.  Everyone thinks that the extroverts have it all together.  A little secret, even they can be shy and be terrified at times, and even hate networking too.

Here are a few tips that can get you started on the road to becoming more comfortable having those interactions.  Hopefully some of these practices can ease the anxiety and allow you to have some winning conversations.

Tip #1

Have some warm up statements for yourself.  When someone pounces on you and says, “who are you” or “what do you do?” have a couple of thoughts in your mind or maybe even memorized so you are not caught unaware which might totally shut you down.  Just a sentence or two will do.  Draw on your talents, your business know how. It gets you talking.  Use them to open a conversation or respond to a question.  Just let the person or persons get a sense of your passion for your business and how you help your customers.

Tip #2

If you in a situation where you might have to take the lead, begin the conversation with asking some questions about some relevant topics.  Doesn’t have to be about business.  Maybe it is just about something you learned recently on a topic that would be appropriate and ask for their opinion.  If you are conversing with an extrovert, they will take over.  However, if you are talking to an introvert, have a few soft inquiring questions.  It should get them started.  They are there for the same reasons you are probably.  Remember they may be just as nervous as you.  Be patient and let them talk.  Don’t cut them off.  Otherwise, that might be the last word you hear from them.  Your goal is to connect.

Tip #3

Listen, Listen, Listen.  Nothing turns off any person extrovert or introvert more, than having the feeling of being dismissed.  If you are interested in what they have to say, look “present” and “attentive” to their discussion.  If you are feeling a little intimidated, just back off a little and step in with a new statement or question.  It will quickly diffuse the atmosphere.  If possible adjust the conversation.  They probably don’t mean for you to feel intimidated.  It’s just that they are passionate about the subject.  They don’t realize they are coming across stronger than they should.

Tip #4

Practice, Practice Practice!  No matter how good a speaker or conversationalist you are, we need to practice.  Have daily conversations with your “Wilson” like Tom Hanks in the Castaway movie.  At least he doesn’t talk back and is attentive.  Practice talking to yourself in the mirror like the Queen in “Snow White”.  This will help you improve your body language – gesturing and facial expressions.  My favorite practice for a workshop is talking to myself while I am driving.  Thank goodness no one thinks I am a nut case.  They just think I am on the phone.

Fortunately, if you are doing a video, you can erase the bad parts.  But it is still good to practice audio and video to get more comfortable, especially if you know one day the stage is yours.  Speaking of stage, if you have ever gone to a large seminar, you often see the key speaker arrive on stage jumping around or clapping his or her hands.  They do it because it raises their adrenaline to quell the “butterflies” in their gut.  Tony Robbins bangs on his chest a couple of times before he heads out onto the stage and yells “yes”, “yes” “yes” and then runs out.  Who would have thought?  I have used his technique over and over when I am just getting ready to start.  No one sees it but you.  But you feel good when you begin your opening lines.

These four tips are probably the “tip” of the iceberg, but a great place to start.  You are always going to be an introvert and that is okay.  Introverts are the brain power of our society.  But it will help if you can learn some techniques to help you build rapport.  If you can do that, you will probably feel more comfortable and stay successful in your interactions.

Last and most important thing to do for yourself – when your event or interaction is all over, acknowledge yourself for doing a great job.  Then, reward yourself by going to that “quiet” place that allows you to recharge.  Take note of how long you can be “out” before you need to recharge. It may be just a “mental” garden, but you know where you need to go.

You are great…..

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Do You Know What This Person is Thinking?

How Do I Have a Winning Communication Experience?

I have just come back from a Thanksgiving family reunion.  Everyone came happy and excited to be with each other and have fun.  You have seen enough Movies to know how that goes.  You can always expect there will be some friction and some heartache.  Why?  Because as much as we all love each other, we have communication breakdowns.  Why?  Because we don’t always communicate in a way that the other person knows or understands.

Sometimes we don’t understand what was said, or we don’t understand their facial expressions.  What am I, a mind reader???Family is one thing.  Even if we have fights we all love each other.  We will have a few tears, maybe even some angry words, and then we hug, and say “I love you”.  We make it all better.  We forget the bad memories and come back for the next  family reunion.

 

Business, however, can be another thing.  If you are having this interaction at work or if you are trying to network with someone for business or you are having a one on one with a customer, that is another story all together.  There is no bond of love and friendship that will keep you together.  What do you do?  Even if you think you are the best communicator in the world, if you have a customer that is not a good communicator, your whole presentation or engagement could blow up in your face.  How do you overcome that?

Many, many years ago, I went to a two-day Communications course to learn how to be a better communicator.  We learned how to be good listeners.  But somewhere in translation, I didn’t quite grasp how to engage with people that are terrible communicators.  Trust me, there are plenty.  Now add to that, the additional issue of trying to communicate with someone while on a mobile phone.  That was not in that training, because mobile phones didn’t exist.  Here is a personal example: I was having lunch with one of my sons recently and I was sharing a story while he was doing something on his phone.  It became apparent to me that he wasn’t listening to anything I was saying.  I asked if he was listening.  Being honest with his Mom, he sheepishly said “no”.  Now what if that situation was with a customer.  They would have probably said “of course I am listening” and be totally lying.  Then whatever I said, would have been missed.  At least I was able to repeat my story with my son, or if it just didn’t matter in the big scheme of things, moved one.  But if it is work related, you can’t move on, you want to be sure they received your message.

Here are some good suggestions that I have learned from painful experiences:

  1. Make sure the person you are conveying your message too, wants to hear the message.  (Otherwise going to deaf ears.)
  2. Don’t try to have that important business conversation when there are distractions like loud music or other chitchat around you. Otherwise they may only hear every other word.  They will nod their head that they are hearing you and understand you.  But in reality, you know they haven’t a clue what you have been saying.  They are just being polite.
  3. Body language. This is critically important and probably my worst pet peeve.  I hate it when people respond to me with a face cringe or bobbing of the head and think I know what that means.  Try and ask questions that will elicit a response of a statement rather than a “yes” or “no” answer.  Otherwise, you may get a bobbing head and not get the answer you need. Some people may be afraid to answer your question as they are not ready to make a decision at that moment.  Asking questions that require a statement rather than a yes or no, will be more helpful.  Or that encourage them to ask a question back to formulate that decision.  That might allow for a better dialogue eventually giving you the response you need.  As hard as it might be, we need to ask gentle questions, so they don’t have the feeling of being interrogated.
  4. Try to allow that person you are engaging with to feel comfortable to speak and let you know what they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes, that just means “shut up” and “listen”.  Bite your lip if you have too.  Depending on your personality style that might be a little hard, especially if you are an extrovert like me.  But believe me if you want an introvert to respond, you have no choice, you have to give them the space and time to feel comfortable to answer.

Try this exercise: next time in a work discussion whether it is an associate or customer, look at their body language.  Do they look comfortable, or do they look anxious?  Use that intuition to decide how to “be” with that person so you can have a winning engagement.  Is it their personality or are they dealing with an issue that is making life tough right now?  You might have to ask some warm up questions to know the answer to that before you delve into your business conversation.

I found this YouTube and thought it really represented this subject.

 

We never know what someone is going through.  I would never in a million years have known what these expressions meant.  But it goes to show you, that we have to be sensitive to everyone and their needs, whether it is family, friends, business associates, or customers.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Same time, next year, better equipped.  Have a better customer experience.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

The One Thing Standing Between You and Your Goals

Every once in a while, I read a business book that makes me think “Eureka!  I’ve found it!”  That’s exactly how I felt when I read this simple book called “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results”.  I call this a simple book because it’s central premise is that focusing on just one thing will help you succeed in all areas of your life.  This simple idea of narrowing down your focus to just one thing can help improve your: business, finances, personal life, physical health, key relationships, and even your spiritual life.

The number one bestselling book was written by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.  Keller is the co-founder of Keller Williams, one of the top real estate companies in the United States.  Papasan is an editor at HarperCollins Publishers and is an established speaker and corporate trainer.  In this book, the authors bring together a great collection of stories and science that helps support their ideas.

So, what is this book about?  The premise is that if you want to reach your goals you need to focus your attention on just one thing at a time.  You need to constantly ask yourself this focusing question:  “What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?” 

While this may sound almost ridiculously simple, think about how many of us are living life by doing completely the opposite.  Instead of focusing on just one thing, we are focusing on a million things at once.  This is why entrepreneurs can so easily become victims of burnout.  As one of the authors, Gary Keller, points out, “It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”

If you are like me, perhaps you too have wondered why is it that everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and yet some people seem to get so much more done?  Well, according to this book, success is a result of doing just ONE thing until it’s done.

What I liked about this book is that the authors do a great job of showing us that multi-tasking doesn’t work.  For years, I have struggled with my inability to successfully multi-task.  I don’t know about you, bu I have always found that multi-tasking left me feeling scattered, frustrated, and exhausted.  And yet, I thought it was the secret sauce to being productive.  After reading this book, I finally understood that the reason multi-tasking doesn’t work for me… is because multi-tasking just doesn’t work!  For this one idea alone, the book is a game changer.

 

“If you are chasing two rabbits, you won’t catch either one.”

~ Russian Proverb

 

The book goes on to tackle some other commonly accepted productivity beliefs.  Here’s just a few:

  • Everything we do matters equally – is a lie.  Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing
  • The successful person leads a disciplined life – is a lie.  Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right.
  • We all just need more willpower – is a lie.  We need to do our most important work when our willpower is at its strongest.

What I especially liked about this book is that it helps the reader gain clarity on what their ONE thing is and then formulate a plan to move forward.  The authors provide concrete solutions and a clear road-map on how you can make your ONE thing your highest priority.  It’s also helpful they address all the things that can derail us, which they fondly refer to as the “Four Thieves,” and then offer some advice on goal-setting and time blocking.

“The ONE Thing” is a quick and easy read.  It is well written with examples and stories to back up the authors ideas.  It also includes drawings throughout the book to help support the written text.  Finally, I like that every chapter ends with summary of the “Big Ideas”, which helps to cement what you’ve read.

I highly recommend this book to any business professional that wants to work smarter, not just harder.  This book can help you cut through the clutter of both your professional and personal life, allowing you to better focus on the things in life that really matter.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

On The Countdown…..90 Days

Hi today is my birthday, October 1st.  Unfortunately, it won’t be by the time you read this blog, but it is fun to know that my thoughts are written on my special day.  I love that my birthday is October 1st.  Besides the fact that it is my birthday, my special day has other meanings too.  It’s the first day of a month.  It’s the beginning of October.  Most importantly, it begins the 3-month count down till the end of the year and the beginning of the next year.  That gives me three months to wrap up any sales for this year and start my planning for the next year.

Now October 1st  probably isn’t your birthday but it sure is your countdown. Just like mine. We are on the countdown with 90 days left.  It sounds the alarm or warning that you have:

  • 3 months left to complete any plans you had set for this year.
  • 3 months to fulfill your sales goals.
  • 3 months to work through what worked this year and toss out what isn’t working.
  • 3 months to start designing next year’s goals.

These begin the obvious discussion points for your business year-end plans.  By December 1st you will probably be working on a written business plan that will kick off for January 1.  You will be focusing on setting new goals, deciding what new marketing materials you will need, and new products to add.

But I wanted to add one more thought to the mix for your year-end count down.   I recently read an email from one of the big online marketing gurus, Jeff Walker.  He suggested we should be examining what our USP – unique selling proposition is?  Our special USP. It could be what you do in your business.  Perhaps a special patent or program.  Or quite frankly it could just be “you”.  In a nutshell our USP is “our secret sauce”.  That special something that drives people to us for sales versus someone else.  It started me thinking, if I really know what my USP is, shouldn’t I make sure that everyone I work with or want to work with knows it.  My “talk” and my “marketing” should ring loud and clear so there is no doubt as to what my USP is.

Gillian and I truly believe our USP or unique selling proposition is our “patience and caring”.  We “listen” to our clients and focus on delivering what they want and need.  They are never customers to us, they are wonderful people that we get to help with their success.  We are always humbled by their stories and situations.  When they come to us they usually frustrated and need guidance.  We always strive to coach and teach in baby steps so they won’t get overwhelmed and throw in the towel.   I truly hope that our USP is conveyed during our experience together and the results live beyond our time together, whether it is our courses or our one on one coaching.  But I should make sure that my USP message is prevalent in every time someone knows or hears from me.

Your USP might be the same as ours.  Or completely different.  But we all have one.  You just need to figure it out.  So just like me, do you know what your Unique Selling Proposition is?  Is it reflected in your marketing?  Your Facebook Posts, your flyers, your seminars, your business cards?  We were helping a client this week and he told us he didn’t want anything showing money on his marketing material.  He just wants people to know that his goal is to educate them, and find solutions.  If he does it right and he helps them make money, it is not about the money, it is about a better-quality life.  I like that.  He already knows what his USP is.

I am celebrating my birthday with you.  Let’s count down our 90 days to January 1st together.  We will discover our unique selling proposition, our USP, and make sure next year there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that what we offer makes us unique.  This is why they should know us, like us and trust us.  Happy birthday to us all.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Lets leap into 2018 with our Special USP.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Never Stop Learning With E-Books

While I am currently on vacation, traipsing around the Highlands of Scotland, I am still learning.  Just like I love podcasts, I sure hope you enjoyed reading my previous post on that topic, I also love e-books.  For this three-week adventure, I decided to leave my computer at home and just take my iPad.  To make it a little bit easier on myself, I also brought along an Apple wireless keyboard, to type my blog posts.

At the Seattle/Tacoma airport, where I boarded my flight to Glasgow, I saw a sign that attracted my attention. To be honest with you, since I am a huge book nerd, it doesn’t take much to get me to notice anything advertising free books!

So there I was, with the ability to download a free e-book to take with me.  Better yet, I didn’t even need a library card to take advantage of the free offer.  Instead, I was given the option to sign up for a free two-day pass.  I was allowed to download 3 books and for 14 days. Sweet!

So I quickly browsed their catalog and found 3 books I’d been wanting to read and made my choice. The only extra thing I had to do was download the Overdrive app onto my iPad to read the e-books.  Seeing as how the app is free, and the Seattle airport has free WI-Fi, this wasn’t a hardship in the least.  Once I boarded the plane, I was able to spend 9 hours of down-time catching up on my reading, instead of watching movies or just sleeping.  How awesome is that?

Now of course, being an avid reader, I already have a slew of great books in the Kindle app of my iPad.  Which means that I am never without a great book at my fingertips. While KIndle books are relatively in-expensive, they are not free.  Because I am a “Bootstrap Entrepreneur” I don’t have access to all the business books I’d like.  However, recently, I found out that there’s a way to borrow other people’s Kindle books.  Wow, I think this must be the best kept secret ever.

So how does Kindle book borrowing work?  Here’s the process:

Step 1

  • To borrow an e-book from a Kindle owner, they first have to lend it to you.
  • This means the Kindle book owner has to go to: “amazon.com/mycd” and go to the e-book they are willing to lend you.
  • From there, they can access the “Manage Your Content and Devices” section of their account.

Step 2

  • Next, they lender clicks on the “Action” box right next to the title of the e-book, which is denoted by an ellipsis.
  • From there, they click on “Loan this title.”
  • If the option is not available, this means that the book is not eligible for lending.

Step 3

  • If the book is eligible for lending, they will type in some information (ex. required fields are the recipient’s email address and the name of the lender).
  • The e-mail address should be the recipient’s personal one and NOT their Kindle address.
  • Once the lender has filled out the fields, they click the “Send now” tab.

Step 4

  • Once the book has been sent, check your email and open the message. In the email body, click on the tab that says “Get your loaned book now.”
  • You will be prompted to sign into your Kindle Account and pick a device to send the borrowed book to, then click on the “Accept Loaned Book” button.

Step 5

  • To later return the e-book to the lender, go to “Manage Your Content and Devices” via the “amazon.com/mycd” address.
  • Next, to the title of the book you’re returning under the “Your Content” tab, check the box under “Select” then click on the “Action” box.  From the pop-up menu, select “Return this book.” Confirm the return by clicking “Yes.”

Note, just a few things you need to know:

  • Books only can be borrowed once via the same account.  You can’t just return the lent book and then borrow it again over and over.
  • The owner of the book won’t be able to read a book while it is being borrowed by another user.

So, whether you want to take advantage of free e-books from a public library, or borrow a Kindle book from a friend, it’s nice to know you can still be learning on the go.  E-books are a great way to carry a ton of good books with you and yet still travel light.  For the trip I am currently on, I am away for 3 weeks and limited to nothing more than one carry-on sized suitcase and a day-pack.  So there really wasn’t really room for more than one hard copy book.  Which is why I am glad I have the Overdrive app and Kindle app on my iPad.  If I run out of reading material before my vacation ends… I might just ask my business partner, Janet, to lend me one of her Kindle books.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Who You Gonna Call for Advice???

No matter how long you have been in business, occasionally new challenges crop up.  Oh how we wish we had a fairy godmother to give us some advice.  Part of the obstacle might be knowing who is the “right” angel of mercy and other times it might just be plain old dollars and cents.  Your issue could be marketing, IT, accounting, setting up a proper business plan to obtain a loan, partnership agreements, social media or just needing help on an analysis study.  Ugh I hate those. Whatever it is, a quick answer or something more elaborate, where do you turn too?  Ghostbusters!!!!

Today there are many entrepreneurs who have already felt your pain and have built a business platform that helps others with certain issues through courses and books.  Many offer free webinars or paid coaching or classes. But those are generally to help you get from one level to another level, based on the product they sell. They offer great benefits, just like us and worth the cost. But sometimes you need something different, more specific to your particular business need.  You need advice from someone who has been there, done that like a Ghostbuster!!!  I am kidding! The Ghostbusters of today are SCORE Mentors.

Many of you may not be familiar with SCORE.  SCORE is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  This non-for profit offers Business Consulting, Education and Mentoring for all size businesses whether just getting started or who already are seasoned and successful.  They have helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs through individual mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964.  They have over 10,000 volunteers that provide FREE mentoring.  Most of their webinars or workshops are free or for a small nominal fee.    With over 300 chapters, quite possible there is a chapter near you.

When I first started out in my business I took advantage of their services. My issue was vetted and then I was matched up to a seasoned expert in that field.  Many of their mentors are retired business executives who have tons of knowledge and are passionate about giving a helping hand.   I was assigned a mentor who was able to assess my problem,  provide wise council and who allowed me to bounce ideas off of until I was ready to solo.   In addition, he suggested some webinars and workshops that he thought would have value for me.  All this advice was FREE.  Could I have asked for more!  Some of the workshops were FREE and a few were a few bucks i.e. $10 -$25.  But absolutely worth every penny.  Some of the chapters offer large one-day events where they will have a host of speakers.  You can be a participant or a sponsor, but both allow for networking.

I have been so inspired by this organization that I have now signed up to be a mentor for SCORE.  With my 30+ plus years in the Insurance and Financial Services Industry with both marketing and managerial experience I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help other budding entrepreneurs.  My online marketing experience for the last few years is a bonus as well.  As a mentor, you are forbidden to solicit business from those you mentor, but as you teach, so do you learn.  That new knowledge will be paramount in helping my own customers.  Plus, it gives me an opportunity to participate in my community and make a difference.  I like that.   I was a little nervous on my first mentoring in training opportunity.  I planned to be a fly on the wall and just listen, but I quickly realized I had a lot to contribute to help these business owners.  I felt really good when I left their office.

If you would like to take a peek at whether You can benefit by SCORE, be it finding a business mentor or signing up for their workshops, here is the link to the SCORE website:  https://www.score.org/.  You will be amazed at how you can benefit by meeting with a mentor in person, by video conferencing or email.  Great volunteers ready to contribute to the success of your business. Very importantly, all meeting sessions are confidential.  Your discussion is private.

Perhaps you are ready to be a mentor, or lead a workshop.  They are always seeking new training leaders.

I believe being an entrepreneur is one of the most wonderful occupations.  We have the ability to choose our business, run it with our style, and we tend to give back in many ways. If we can help another entrepreneur up the ladder, it makes us proud, doesn’t it?

So who you gonna call?   I ain’t afraid of no ghost!  Call Ghostbusters……..

Have a laugh watching this classic Ghostbusters’ trailer, then call your Ghostbusters mentor at SCORE. https://www.score.org/

You will be glad you did.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com