Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shy People Need to Market Themselves Too

In my many years as a freelance marketing copywriter in Austin, Texas, I've encountered hundreds of remarkably talented, skilled entrepreneurs running some enormously innovative businesses. But until they actually contacted me to discuss their marketing needs, I'd never heard of them. I have no doubt that I will have many more such surprises in the future. And each time I will ask the same question: "How is it you've gone undiscovered for so long? Where have you been?"

I'll tell you where they've been -- they've been hiding. Not because they couldn't afford to market their businesses, or because they didn't want to achieve fame and fortune. They've been hiding because they are either shy or introverted by nature, or because they find self-promotion distasteful.

"Introvert" isn't a dirty word, by the way, although the extroverts of this world sometimes pronounce it as if it were. Introversion isn't exactly the same thing as shyness, even if it produces similar results. According to Psychology Today, introverted people feel emotionally drained when surrounded by large groups of people; shy individuals like being around people, but are afraid to interact with them. Both situations can bar the way to effective self-promotion -- but they certainly don't have to.

Here are some common objections I hear from people who allow introversion or shyness to interfere with their self-promotion efforts:

"I don't want to brag." Yes, you do! If you have a business to take pride in, and skills and experience to back up your claims, then you definitely want to brag. Think about the leading personalities in your field -- or in any field, for that matter. Do they come across as shrinking violets where their enterprises are concerned? Would you actually choose a business on the basis of how modestly it described itself, or would be more likely to go with one that trumpeted its achievements and abilities for all to hear?

"I can't mix with people." Did you know that Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of Business Networking International (BNI), classifies himself as an introvert? He even claims to have trouble initiating conversations with strangers, a hallmark of shyness. Here's the leader of the world's largest business networking organization, asking people to escort him from person to person at events so he can introduce himself without awkwardness. If he can do it, so can the introverted/shy business owners of the world. You can even find consultants who will train you in public speaking and networking techniques so you feel more confident working the room.

"I don't have any great claims to make." Some business owners think that they must have a 20-year track record in their field, an international client list, and a personal endorsement from Oprah before they can market themselves or their business with any authenticity. But if that were true, no business would ever take that first step out of total anonymity. You have to start somewhere, after all -- and I guarantee that you have strengths and unique points to promote. You might need a little help pinpointing them or leveraging them in your marketing content, but believe me, they're there.

Don't let a desire to run and hide turn your business invisible. Get your message out there, loud and proud!