4 simple ways introverts can win awesome new clients
A few months ago, I received an email from a fellow PR professional asking to pick my brain, in exchange for a grande skinny latte.
I saw your profile on LinkedIn and thought you’d be a good person to give me a few pointers. I want to start a freelance business, but I have no idea how to find clients and wouldn’t know where to start. Any tips?
I was flattered by her request.
But it got me thinking.
How did I get new business?
The idea of self-promotion goes against every atom of my body. Social media makes me squirm and the thought of networking? I’d rather take a long walk off a short pier.
Being a fully paid-up introvert, I wasn’t sure I was the best person to ask.
But, my freelance business was growing. I was lucky enough to work with some pretty cool clients. And, I wasn’t putting myself out there in the conventional sense. So maybe I had some advice worth sharing…
In her book: Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain talks about society having a cultural bias towards extroverts. A society where the loudest, most socially confident win the day, and the quietly well-informed tend not to get a word in.
But, she adds, “There’s no correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
If you’ve got mad skills, there’s no reason why your thoughtful, reflective self shouldn’t share them with the world—and be rip-roaringly successful while you’re at it.
Look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Stephen Spielberg or JK Rowling.
So, putting pen to paper, here are four tactics that work for my small PR and copywriting business. Whether you’re an introvert yourself, or somewhere close, I hope they’ll give you the confidence to shine your light a little brighter.
To sum up? ‘He who shouts loudest’ need no longer apply.
1. A man without a smiling face must not open a shop (Chinese proverb) Surprising how many people ignore this sage piece of advice. Making sure your window to the world is appealing, friendly and engaging is particularly relevant if you’re an introvert who’d rather dance naked down Oxford Street than go to a networking event.
Ever clicked away from a crappy, hard-to-navigate website? Or been turned off by corporate robotic language? Investing in a high-quality, personality-filled online presence is key to that critical first impression.
Build yourself an attractive website, use it to show off your key skills and with a bit of optimization homework, like-minded types should be queuing up to work with you.
If a potential client is keen, they’ll check out your LinkedIn profile and social media pages too. Shame not to cram them full of your latest work and glowing testimonials. Social proof is a powerful tool in any introverts kitbag.
Getting your shop in order also means responding quickly and suggesting alternatives if you can’t help. Recommend your peers (they might just recommend you back). And, just like any good shopkeeper, be open, clear and generous with your advice. Kindness always come back to you.
2. Feel the fear and don’t do it anyway. How many times have you heard ‘fake it til you make it’ or ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’? I’m not suggesting you never push yourself—it’s a great way to grow. But, I’m a firm believer in not continually forcing yourself in a direction you’re not naturally wired for.
If you’re an introvert, you may feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there at industry events, but thrive at more self-contained activities, like blogging or working one-to-one. If that’s the case, put more energy into the things you’re good at, and enjoy watching how quickly you develop.
If you’re constantly trying to improve in areas that go against the grain of your personality, you might find improvements piecemeal and kick yourself for not getting there faster.
Focus on strengthening your talent—easy when you enjoy it—and people will notice. Excel at what you do best. Reap the rewards.
3. The 10 second introverts guide to social media. Social media. Love it or hate it, it’s a necessary cog in the marketing wheel. But for introverts who spend hours needlessly agonizing over very post, it can feel like emptying your soul out for the world to dissect.
The truth is, people are far more concerned with whether their own posts are being liked, favorited and shared. You are but a speck of dust in the vast wasteland of other people’s egos. Which is kind of comforting to an introvert like me.
I love Twitter for enabling me to connect with key influencers. For interacting with people in my field and for keeping up-to-date with what my favorite journalists are working on. It saves an awful lot of leg work and what better way for an introvert to make introductions without the small talk?
Puzzling over what to post? Remember: your clients are human. So relax and let the ephemerality of social media wash over you—and be yourself. I pipped the competition to the post once because a client saw we shared a love of running. If people relate to you, they’re more likely to buy from you.
4. Demolish the need for hindsight with your intuitive super powers. Ever been asked to pitch for a project, deep down, you knew wouldn’t work out? If something doesn’t resonate, or create a little flutter of excitement—think twice before accepting.
Has this ever happened to you? You meet a potential client; you’re momentarily dazzled by the prospect of a new project. You get down to business and…
You realize you’ve made a terrible mistake.
It might be that you don’t believe in the product. It might be that you don’t see eye to eye on mission-critical values. It might be that your heart simply isn’t in it.
If you listen more deeply to your inner voice, you can make smarter choices. Your success rates will improve, your confidence will grow and a virtuous circle will reveal itself.
Introverts have inbuilt intuition sensors the size of Jupiter. So, go with your gut feel more often and you’ll thank yourself for it.
I’d love to hear from other introverts who run communications businesses. What do you do to attract new clients? Do you find being an introvert a hindrance or have you learned to make it work for you?
Photo: Introverted businesswoman via Shutterstock