Communications Skills

Overcoming Awkward: An Introvert’s Guide to Networking, Marketing, and Sales

In Management by Grace TurnerLeave a Comment

A few months in I was making some progress on overcoming my social anxiety but I was still really struggling to actually get clients and find my niche.   I reached out to others who knew more.  I thought, “I’m going to reach out to some of the people in this industry that are really successful. I’m going to learn all I can from them.” 

I was a member of a Facebook group called “Women in the Mortgage Industry,” and there were people there who were super willing to help out newcomers and answer questions.  Many of them had offered to help when I first started, they would say, “You can call me any time. You can ask me questions. I see that you’re new.  I’m here to help.”

I took a chance and called some of them up to ask what they were doing and how they built their businesses.  I wasn’t getting any real leads.  I was doing these Facebook ads that were not working and posting all kinds of business content but none of it was getting me any traction and I was getting really frustrated.  I decided to call some of those wonderful and successful women who offered to help me.  The problem was, once I got them on the phone, they all gave me the same answer: 

 “Just be your authentic self.”

Easy for them to say!  I was still discovering my authentic self.  My background had been so rocky from a social perspective, I had little confidence in my authentic self. I didn’t like the first answer so I called another woman.  She also said, “Just be yourself. Be you!  There’s no magic strategy. Don’t buy leads. Don’t go around handing out business cards, don’t spend money on flyers.  Just be yourself.”

I didn’t like that advice either (I’m a slow learner sometimes), so I called yet another one.  She said the same thing and I started to get annoyed.  I mean how could I be myself when I was awkward, shy, and uncomfortable?

 “Be yourself?” I scowled into the phone as I hung up. 

That’s what we tell kids in elementary school where they don’t know how to make friends.   Someone has told me that my whole life: “Just be yourself.”  I thought, “This is crap, they don’t want to help me, they just want to keep all the business to themselves!”  But I sat with it for a few days and since nothing else was working I eventually thought “what do I really have to lose?” 

I spent some time thinking about what it meant to be my authentic self.   I realized that it’s not just a phrase or a philosophy.  It’s an action. I needed to “be me.”

Being yourself means showcasing who you are and what you are interested in.  There were a few things I did know about myself.  For one thing… I was the crazy goat lady!  I love goats and chickens and pretty much anything with fur or feathers. It was a great place to start.  It had nothing to do with finance but people don’t want to hear about your business all the time, they want to get to know you. Real Authentic you.

I started to put my real self out there and show people that quirky part of me.  Guess what? It worked!  Turns out people really connect to quirky crazy goat lady!  I started to post less business and more authentic me.  I posted pics of myself out in the barn working with the animals.  

I showed myself at the ice rinks in my crazy hats picking my kids up from hockey and screwing up recipe ideas and failing and having fun doing it.   It was all raw and real. No filters.  No airbrushing.  No fancy glossy photos. I literally showed myself ankle-deep in goat poop wearing my old gum boots.  It was just me being myself.  And funnily enough, magical things started to happen.  People started to connect to me, to who I am, and they loved seeing my life in a rural community.

Slowly but surely, my phone started to ring as a result of the other parts of my life I shared with the world. I started to get leads from people in my little community. People would say, “Hey, I’ve got a rural property. I see you’re a mortgage broker. Can you help me out with that?” In my head I was thinking, “No.  I don’t know the first thing about financing rural properties,” but instead I said, “Absolutely! Let me find out about that and get back to you.”  Then I went and called my colleagues so they could guide me. I asked them, “What can I do? What lenders do I go to?” I got that first file done. And from that came another file.  From that second file came another file and you see where this is going right?

I continued posting about the real quirky me and it turns out that me, the me I had never shown the world before, was someone people could connect to — someone they could relate to and trust.

One week I had been out all day looking for my dog that had gotten out. And I had stopped somewhere to ask if anyone had seen him and two weeks later, a lady came into my office because she saw me out looking for my dog.   Guess what? She needed a mortgage.

I asked how she found me.  She said that she saw me out looking for my dog and she recognized me from social media as being a mortgage broker. She loved dogs and wanted to work with someone who also loves dogs. She believed that dog people are good people. (That’s true, you know.) She said she had made up her mind and that I had to be her mortgage broker.

And out of being me — out of being my quirky, little, weird self, came another client.

So, the lesson of this entire chapter is really just to be you.  There really is no one better you can be.  Everything else is fake and people see that.  If you love to dance or you love to be out in nature or you are addicted to needlepoint — whatever it is — showcase that.

People don’t want to hear about your business all the time.  They want to hear about you!

We live in a “Pick me!” culture.  Everyone seems to want attention.  Selfies are proof of that.  People want to be seen.  This mindset has spilled over into marketing and advertising where people keep pushing the envelope to get the world’s attention.  Consumers are inundated with “pick me for this reason,” “pick me for that reason.”  It’s never-ending.  If you really want to set yourself apart from the competition, show people who you really are — your authentic self.

There are always a thousand reasons to count yourself out:

  • Too old,
  • Too young.
  • Too fat.
  • Too thin.
  • Too ugly.
  • Too beautiful (seriously?).
  • Too experienced.
  • Too inexperienced.
  • Too unique
  • Not unique enough
  • Too shy
  • Too outgoing

None of those reasons are valid.  When people choose a service, they don’t choose that service because of a flashy ad.  They choose that service because they liked the person behind it. Because you made a connection with them.

About the Author – Monica Parkin: When Monica first started out in business, she found herself struggling with Networking. She has since evolved into a master relationship builder, Podcast Host, Keynote Speaker and successful serial entrepreneur. Learn more at www.monicaparkin.ca

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