biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: tips for the shy biz lady

by Stephanie

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.

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  • This is incredibly helpful! Even though this is all stuff that we know, it’s so helpful to have someone with experience say it. Thank you.

  • wow, you said just what I needed to hear today.. I’m allso painfully shy when it comes to anything business related or involving self promotion.
    thank you for giving me permission to hide behind my computer screen:)

  • I agree! My friends and family went to bat for me in a huge way–they were my biggest cheerleaders. They spread the word about my blog and talked about me in ways that I could never talk about myself.

    Also, the internet is great for building your blog and your brand…when you’re first starting out, email communication makes the most sense anyways. After you’ve established yourself, you will start getting invited to more in-person events. I found that those first few months of promoting and networking online gave me the confidence to eventually network face-to-face.

  • This was so very helpful and awesome to read! I am deathly shy, especially with new people, and like you said, unsolicited phone calls! AH! I’ve been getting better over the years, but I recently discovered that when I’m shy others perceive me as aloof, cocky or incredibly confident… how odd, right?
    Thanks again for this lovely post!!!!

  • Thanks for sharing these pointers! As a shy person, I struggle with everything you mentioned but it’s important to not get tripped up!

  • Love this post!! I am in the shy category myself. It was a great post to read at this time. I just recently launched my small biz and in search of helpful insight! Thanks for sharing! ;-)

  • i agree fully with 1, 3 &4 but i think it’s okay to push yourself to get out in the public too…meeting people who are truly interested in your art is a fabulous thing!!

  • I so relate to this: “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.”

    Tell me, how do you smile in an e-mail? Like this

  • What a great post! Such good advice. Once I read about a study in which all the physiological measures of anxiety were taken from people in two groups – average people with no diagnosis and those with performance anxiety (a type of social anxiety) right at the moment that the subjects had to read something in front of a crowd. Surprisingly, everyone had similar levels of physiological anxiety (sweaty palms, increased heart rate, etc) in both groups. The researchers concluded that those without social anxiety simply interpret the physical signs of their anxiety differently than those with social anxiety. Apparently, it’s possible to learn to interpret feelings of anxiety as your body’s way of giving you extra energy and alertness for when you have to perform. While I still struggle with learning this new way to think about my anxiety, it’s certainly nice when it pops into my head instead of just my old way of looking at it. Thanks again for the good post!

  • So nice to see someone address this… it really is so hard to do things sometimes when you are shy. I’ve been trying to network and meet people who I feel I could learn so much from, and every time I make those contacts, I have to take deep breaths and calm my racing heart. So thanks for making me smile and saying, “It’s ok.”

  • Thank you so much Regina, Stephanie, & D*S for this great post! I am so shy when it comes to most things, but starting a blog has changed so much of that already. People actually visit MY site and use MY advice in their life – it’s amazing! I really appreciate that you shared this article with us. Also, you’re so right about using a person’s name.. it’s so rare that I hear my name these days (in person or in writing) and it makes such a difference. It really lets you know that the person you’re talking to knows exactly who they are talking to and are paying attention.

  • Great post with wonderful advice! This is something that I have struggled with for many years. It’s good to hear advice from a shy yet successful business person :)

  • Thank you for this post. I have Social Anxiety Disorder. Communicating with people (in any way) is one of the MOST difficult things for me – even when it’s positive communication. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the advice.

  • Finally! We shy biz ladies have been waiting for this for a long time (so glad to hear I’m not alone!).

    Although, since launching my business I have found that it has forced me to become more comfortable with being out there and candid. In fact, I think the constant push to contact people and conquer my fear of speaking on phones to strangers has made shyness less of a problem.

    Now, if only conquering my fear of messing up legal paperwork was so easy to fix!

  • what a wonderful post (I especially liked, “at least show your courteous self”)! I would like to add that i’ve purchased from your store, Acute Designs, and I was very happy with your service and thrilled with the items I purchased. I get compliments on the earrings all the time.

  • Wonderfully worded! Thank you for the advice…giving me the courage to make a change! Keep up the awesome work!

  • wow, what a great post seeing as though i want a bakery so bad and i just don’t know how to “put myself out there”. although #1 makes me a little sad because my family and i are very close, but they aren’t very helpful to me :(

  • Great post! I totally fit the shy business lady category. It is so much easier to post, tweet and comment to 100s or 1000s of people on the internet than stand in front of a group of strangers and talk. Though I think expressing opinions and comments online have actually helped a great deal in conquering “real” life shyness!

  • What a great post, Gina. It’s all so true and I imagine that your words have helped many shy women think ‘I can do that now!’. A break through for them and all because you weren’t shy in coming forward to help out with your experience… ironically! x

  • So insightful! There are also super outgoing folk who are terribly shy (like me). What this means is I avoid new relationships and situations, but when in them you would never know I’m afraid because I can talk to anyone, have an easy manner, and even enjoy myself. I also LOVE public speaking. It’s getting out the door, or taking the plunge to invite the world in that is the hurdle. That, and a fear of conflict or of a problem arising. In the end I’m always glad I made the effort to connect, but the impetus to push myself from a fixed position is the hurdle. If I can get the momentum going, the rest is easy.

  • I use social media a lot but thats because I constantly travel, but it works. I am also one that quit 9-to-5 and started my own business in creative field and now love every minute of work!

  • I notice all previous comments are from woman, but men can have this problem also. I know I have talent, and I know that I work hard, but when it comes to “selling myself” I fall flat over and over again. Thanks for the tips.

  • From a shy biz gal, this is welcome advice indeed. I’ve been advised by far too many people to beat my natural tendency toward shyness into complete submission and become an extrovert. I’m SO over feeling guilty for being who I naturally am! Thanks! :)

  • great post – family and friends are the reason I kept going with my bag business – they would organise bag parties and invite all the friends, and helped spread the word. I get so wrapped up in the ‘making’ side of things , so it’s really helpful to have family who help to get you out there:)

  • This post was so great. I think lots of us are actually shy…it takes chutzpah to put one’s creative ideas out there!

    My grandma had a good phrase I like to remember…because I am actually quite shy, and always feel anxious before getting out there…

    “Go have a good self-conscious time”.

  • Thank you so much for putting this out there. I am a latecomer reading it, but I do see many others also appreciate your well communicated insights. Wonderful post!

  • Perfect post! So much of the reading up on being a small business owner, is so heavily weighted on the networking side – nice to know you don’t always have to be a social butterfly to succeed. Thank you for the tips

  • thanks stephanie for this wonderful post! my husband is my biggest fan and lets everyone know my talents as i never could myself! {oppsites really do attract!} emails are great and i do fine communicating this way for my business, probably better than i ever could selling over the phone or door-to-door as you mentioned!
    thanks for sharing!

  • Great article! I definitely agree that calling is a much more direct approach, and I can tend to be one of those people who becomes strangely shy around people I don’t know–especially in a setting that requires talking yourself up. I’m also wary of being too “pushy”–I never want to seem too forward. Maybe there could be a follow up article about how to approach people when you’re starting a business without feeling too pushy?

    Great article!

  • This was a great post! In my mind, I like to believe that I’m a social butterfly who can work a crowd, but in reality, I’m really shy and I talk to strangers in an awkward, robotic form. I guess I’m a better listener than a talker. I generally need to give myself a little pep talk in order to get myself out there. My family has been great in terms of spreading the word about my business and my husband has always been the local salesman for me. I’m hoping I can overcome my shyness!

  • Great article, and so helpful!

    I had to smile at the part about just sucking it up and pretending the fear doesn’t exist: That’s exactly what I do when I need to accomplish something and don’t have someone to make an introduction for me! It’s a great strategy!

    You still won’t see me out there, in people’s faces like some people can do, but I can at least talk to people, which is a start!

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