Growing up, wherever my brother went, at least four friends followed – wherever I went, at least one dog followed…at most, two. Some people are naturally ‘social butterflies’; they make friends wherever they go, and can start a conversation with a stranger as though it was as simple as ordering a coffee (sometimes they’ll even make friends with the person taking the coffee order!). Me? I’m no social butterfly. If anything, I’m a great actor. When it comes to meetings or casual conversations, my high energy and friendly attitude is known to create the illusion that I’m an every-day extrovert, but this typical INFJ has ‘introverted intuition’ – I can read the situation, thrive where I feel comfortable to, and lead the way into that socialization….but it’s a little exhausting for me. Understandably, as a result, I keep a small group of friends, and my connections never quite become bonds. If this sounds like you (which is probably why you clicked this post to begin with!), then I think you just might be an introvert.
Here’s the thing – when starting a business with a huge group of friends, it might be a little easier to get your feet off the ground. For example, Jessica the hairstylist just started taking clients, and in her huge group of girlfriends, four of them are engaged! As the great friends they are, all four book Jessica for their bridal hair, and spread the word to their engaged friends, and co-workers, and cousins, and even their little sisters for their proms. Jessica’s business is spreading word-of-mouth like wildfire, and all she had to do was send out a few text messages to her BFF’s and sorority sisters. But here you are, the introvert, thinking ‘how the heck am I going to launch a business to NOBODY?!’, and it is terrifying. But don’t worry friends…I did it, and I want to tell you how.
Like most introverted millennials, I’ve always felt at home when it comes to social media – a place where I can open up and be my energetic self, without the stress and pressure of impressing in-person. When I started my photography business, and to this day, nearly all of my clients have been complete strangers. I worked to create a space where I could showcase my work, my personality, and the experience I had to offer potential clients. That icebreaker is so much easier from behind a screen – where I would be too shy to walk up to a stranger in a Starbucks and tell her how much I love her engagement ring, and then to take it a step further and share that I’m a wedding photographer, it’s the simplest communication to search a hashtag, comment the photo, adding on a cute emoji or two, and leave it to your username to introduce yourself. Better yet, you can make more connections in a smaller amount of time online than you can IRL.
Utilizing social media, I started developing a following of my ideal clients, and kept up that friendly communication through ‘likes’ and comments. When you’re reaching out to the right people, and creating an endearing space that attracts the clients or customers of your dreams, the rest will fall into place. From there, the word-of-mouth magic is still on your side, when your clients/customers start to spread the word to their friends, even their own followers too!
1. Use something I like to call the ‘My Home’ method. When going to someone else’s home, you may feel a little reserved, allowing your shyness to take over, resulting in taking a step back in conversation and allowing someone else to lead. In your own home, you feel safe, comfortable, and like you’re running the show. If I approach a meeting or a session like I am being welcomed into my clients home, I immediately feel like it’s their job and their right to lead the conversation and activity – this would ultimately make my client hesitant on how dependable and professional I am. Truthfully, us clients like someone who takes charge! If I treat every session as though we are in MY safe space – on my turf – I take the leap to leading the communication and taking control of the situation. When going into a meeting, flip your perspective to the ‘My Home’ method – your client is not interviewing you to see if you’re a good fit, but you are interviewing them to see how you can best serve their project.
2. Take baby-steps. As a photographer, you would have the chance to speak over email, have a phone call, and then have your session after you have developed a comfortable connection. This also works for other forms of business such as for makeup artists, private coaches/teachers, event planners, and more!
You can do this, introverts! There is room in this world for everyone to succeed. Decide what you want, and make it happen!