Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Regina Morrison, owner of a small handmade-accessories business, Acute Designs, and a freelance writer. Currently living in San Diego with her husband and two crazy dogs, Regina recently escaped her 9-to-5 job to actively pursue life as a handmade business owner. Today, she shares some tips for the shy biz lady. For those of us who are terribly afraid of putting ourselves out there and rubbing elbows with fellow biz people, Regina offers some easy tips on how to get your business noticed without letting your nerves get the best of you! Thanks, Regina, for this wonderful post! — Stephanie
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I don’t know about you, but I am a little socially awkward and a lot shy. I envy those who can work a crowd, throw themselves out there and approach anyone.
The ability to put yourself out there without fear is a small-business owner’s dream quality. However, even if you do not possess this quality and you are as shy as me, there are a few things you can do to overcome this often saddling personality trait.
1. Use your loved ones.
I am great around people I know. My family and friends would tell you that I never shut up. Put me in a room full of people I know, and I am the star. Put me in a room full of strangers, and I will not speak.
Like most, I am comfortable around those I know, and I use this to my advantage. Do you have a friend who could potentially aid in your business goals? Solicit her for help. The same goes for family members; these people want to see you succeed, and they might have the ability to open a lot of doors when you are too timid to even knock.
I own a small handmade-accessories business, and three of the stores I sell my wares in are due to friends pitching the owner. In each instance, it was organic, and once they got the go-ahead, I was able to take the reins. When I knew that a trusted friend had opened the door, I could step in with confidence.
People in your life love you. They want to help. Use this to your advantage.
2. It is okay to hide behind the computer.
In today’s do-every-single-thing-online world, it is amazing how many businesses have popped up. Social media is the shy business-lady’s forum. Unless you wish to do so, you never have to meet any of your blog or Twitter fans in person. (And, if you do get to meet them, it is like you are old friends. There is none of that first-meeting awkwardness that I so dread.)
Via social media, you are able to collect your thoughts and say the right thing. It is as if you are always prepared with the perfect comment or comeback. No one will know if you are embarrassed by a comment or if your face has turned beet red.
3. Email like crazy, but know when it is time to pick up the phone.
Email is my preferred method of communication. When I am approaching a store about a wholesale order (or an owed payment . . . ), I email. In my experience, those who want to respond will respond. But there are times when a phone call is necessary.
I am not a fan of making an unsolicited phone call, but it won’t kill me. If I have sent an email, this call is a lot easier because I have a jumping-off point. Usually, the person received the email, got too busy to respond and welcomes my phone call.
If the reason you never received a response is because they are not interested, then the worst they can say is no.
No. It isn’t my favorite word, but it isn’t the worst word I have ever heard. The fear of hearing the word “no” or “I am not interested” often prevents me from making a call that could greatly impact my business. It’s times like these that I suck it up and pretend my shyness doesn’t exist.
4. Be as nice and polite as possible.
Many times, my shyness has been misinterpreted for rudeness. Since I am aware of this, I go out of my way to be courteous and kind, especially in emails, where it is so hard to convey tone.
Addressing someone by their name, smiling and a simple please and thank you go a long way. Even if you are too shy to show your true self, at least show your courteous self.
Shyness does not have to hold you or your business back. If it is part of who you are, embrace it and know when it is important to overcome it. Knowing which situations require a little gusto and which need your more natural, reserved self is key to being successful.
And always remember: Thank goodness for the internet because I never could have been a door-to-door salesperson.