From the February 27, 2015 Newsletter
These are the words of a self-admitted extroverted entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, in a short post entitled “The Age of The Introvert Entrepreneur.” He writes that there’s never been a better time – or more opportunities – for an introvert to build a business. With the awesomeness that is the internet, we’re able to reach out and connect with millions of people on our own terms, at our own pace, all from laptop. The playing field is leveled as it never has been before.
And yet… while I completely agree with Vaynerchuk’s viewpoint, there’s a piece missing if we think that being an introvert entrepreneur means that we get to hide behind our computers all day and create a sustainable business model. We must use technology to bring people closer, not as a way to keep our distance.
Unless your brand is based on being a hermit, meeting and talking with people is a necessary part of the entrepreneur’s job description. Vaynerchuk writes, “…the persona you put out there [face-to-face] can be determined by your online interactions and presence.” And that’s where introverts can utilize technology in a healthy way. What does that look like?
- Be yourself. There are few things more jarring than getting to know someone through her profile or page, then meeting her and wondering where that person went! It’s true that some (most?!) of us are more comfortable being verbose or highly expressive online (my online “LOL” is often just an IRL soft chuckle). But notice if you feel like you’re overdoing it; if it’s not something you would say or a reaction you would have if the person was right in front of you, then perhaps choose to post a more in-real-life response.
- Only show up on platforms you enjoy. It’s tempting to jump on every new bright shiny internet bandwagon. After all, you never know where someone will find you! That said, it’s better to concentrate on establishing a robust presence on the one or two platforms that feel most like YOU and that attract the people you most want to connect with. To play off the suggestion above, if you imagined that platform as an event or party, which one would you most like to attend? Where would you feel most able to be yourself?
- Use social media and online networks to prep for IRL events. Before you go to an event, you can often see who else is going and do a little research. If you RSVP online, sometimes the event website includes an updated list of attendees. Events posted on LinkedIn and Facebook will also give you an idea of who will be there, even without registering. You can also share that you’re attending a particular event on social media and ask who else is going. I’ve tried this a few times and appreciate that it serves double-duty: not only do I find out if any of my colleagues have registered, but I’ve shared a resource with them that they may not have known about. Once you have a few names, look up their profiles on social media. Go into the event with a list of people you’d like to meet. This gives you a focus and a mission. It also gives you an opening line after you introduce yourself: “I was intrigued by your LinkedIn profile and your work with so-and-so. Would you have a few minutes to tell me more about it?”
We are definitely in our “glory days.” There is an unprecedented opportunity to create an energetically aligned, sustainable business that is in sync with our introvert strengths. Use technology as a tool to both maximize the things you do well and expand your capacity zone to include new skills. And above all, keep it real.
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From the January 30, 2015 Newsletter
What’s Your Story?
Do you ever feel like you don’t have any good stories to tell? That nothing all that big ever happens to you that’s worth sharing? If so, you’re not alone! I went to a workshop this past weekend about Finding the Message of You and incorporating humor into that message.
As an opening exercise, we shared our fears with each other about the weekend. Mine? That even though we were told we all have stories, I was afraid my life was really BORING after all, and I’d be the first person ever with no story. I knew intellectually that was silly, but emotionally, the narrative was different. A little later, after I was able to turn a story about going to the mall to buy a purse into a major life lesson, my heart lined up with my head. We all have stories, even me!
Here are a few tips to find and tell your story:
- Keep a daily journal of the scenes from your day. It’s boring stuff on the surface, but dig deeper into the emotions, the backstory, and the consequences; there are stories everywhere. Consider a “scene” as being a shift in your day: you’re in a new location, doing significantly different, with different people. Practice noticing your thoughts and feelings during each scene. What did you want? What obstacles were in the way of getting what you wanted? How did things turn out? Even a trip to the grocery can yield new insights when you start seeing things through the eyes of a storyteller. (Recommended resource: Judy Carter’s The Message of You Journal)
- A good story outlines a journey: things were good, they fell apart, they came back together again. Remember to share the entire arc of your story (hint: there’s almost always a childhood memory that influences the narrative; bring that in). Who else is with you on the journey? How do they influence you? What was the final lesson, and how does it bring something full circle in your life? There’s also value in being able to tell the story in terms of “where we are now” and “where we want to be.” This TED Talk from Nancy Duarte explains the technique: http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks
- When you tell a story, use present tense to bring the listeners into the action. “I’m at the coffee shop,” instead of “I was at the coffee shop” has more immediacy and connection. It’s not as easy as it sounds! Practice it when you’re in casual conversation with family and friends, and it will start to come more naturally when you’re communicating in professional settings.
- You can learn to be funny! Humor is a fabulous way to connect with your listeners. Use your introvert superpower of self-awareness and share a fear or shortcoming in a funny way. People will love you for it! Here’s a research project that will be easy to enjoy: spend some time on YouTube watching stand-up comics. Notice how they structure a story, what kind of patterns they use (for instance, there’s the Rule of Three: you list three things, and the first two are “normal” and the final one is unexpected – often shocking – and hilarious), how they withhold information in order to lead into a punchline, when they “act-out” (just what it sounds like!). What’s one technique you can try the next time you tell a story? Here’s a funny routine (clean), around 6 minutes long, that demonstrates a lot of standard humor techniques: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LApj4r9iTUU
- Even if the story is about you, it’s really about your listeners – be clear on what’s in it for them. And bring them into the story. If you’re speaking to a group with whom you share common interests or traits, use “we,” “us” and “our” instead of “I,” “me,” and “mine.” Know what you want to communicate and what you want your listeners to take away from the interaction. What do you want them to learn and remember? How can you use your story to connect to theirs? Do you share a pain or aspiration? Connect the dots for people, even if the connections seem obvious; don’t make them work too hard to understand your message (remember: a confused mind always says “no”!).
- BONUS: Learn to think on your feet with improv. Contrary to what many people think, improv is not necessarily about being funny. Yes, the result is often funny, but when people TRY to be funny, it can easily fall flat. Improv is about trusting yourself and your partners, learning how to make mistakes and recover (over and over), and getting out of your head and into the moment. This can be so powerful for any introvert who goes blank when put on the spot. In fact, Nancy Ancowitz and I had a Twitter chat about it: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/self-promotion-introverts/201310/improv-introverts
Consider what you most want to work on, and pick one new technique or habit you want to develop to support that goal. We all have stories and the ability to tell those stories in a meaningful way that advances your business and your goals. It just takes practice and patience. The pay-off is more than worth it!
From the January 16, 2015 Newsletter
Happy New Year! Isn’t it funny how we often look for time hooks – like New Year’s Day, our birthday or anniversary, a Monday, 12 noon, a full moon, etc. – to start or stop something? The funny part is that every day, every minute is a chance to start or stop whatever we want. But most of us like to put a timeline on a choice that would otherwise be arbitrary. While that can be motivating, it can also serve as a procrastination or avoidance tool. How can we keep that from happening?
Every day is the start of a new year, a new opportunity to make a change or be more of who you want to be. Rather than making New Year’s Resolutions, make Daily Resolutions – or Intentions – that reflect a focus for just that one day. I suggest choosing one thing each day; perhaps it’s to smile more… hug three people by 6pm… read instead of playing solitaire… take a walk… you get the idea. Create opportunities for yourself one day at a time and feel motivation from your series of small wins. You don’t have to wait until Monday or your birthday to start. Now is the only time you have!
For more on resolutions and goal setting:
If one of your resolutions is to incorporate more accountability into your business, then the Action+Accountability Mastermind Circle might be just what you’re looking for. Our first call is Feb 2; register by Jan 24 to secure your spot!
From the December 2014 Newsletter
Reflection/Projection: The Introvert’s Guide to a Happy New Year
What are you celebrating about 2014? And what will you be celebrating a year from now?
The introvert tendency for reflection and introspection comes in pretty handy at this time of year. The time we spend in reflection gives us valuable information about how we move forward.
I’d like to share with you my process for creating an intentional new year. I call it “Reflection/Projection.” It involves six questions, each of serves to wake me up to my progress.
- What’s different now than a year ago?
- What am I most grateful for?
- What do I want to release to make room for new possibility?
- What will I be celebrating a year from now?
- What am I most grateful for?
- What’s one new “edge” habit/behavior/situation that I want to move the needle on?
1) The same question about gratitude is on both lists. It’s a powerful exercise to give thanks for what has been, then to give advance thanks for what is to come. Rather than make a resolution – “I will go to more networking events” – we’re focusing on the benefit of a new choice – “I’m grateful for the interesting people I’ve met this year who have supported me and my business.”
2) An “edge” behavior is one that shows up when we have room to grow. We’re aware of the sharp balancing point between staying in our old ways (which are sometimes dysfunctional or less than healthy) and adopting a new behavior or belief. You might call it being triggered, or having your buttons pushed, or you fall into procrastination, avoidance, or passive-aggressive patterns. When that happens, it’s highlighting an area where there’s room for growth and new awareness. You might find yourself on the edge in a relationship, a professional situation or in relation to big goal you’ve set for yourself. Take the time to reflect on where you’ve felt that edge in the past year, and what it would take to move the needle towards a healthier, more productive response. Then go one step further and determine your first steps. Is there a crucial conversation to be had? Would a coach or counselor be useful? What about meditation, journaling or working things out through an artistic expression?
No matter how you choose to approach your new year, the most important thing is to be intentional. Make commitments to yourself about what you want to experience, and be open to how those experiences show up and what the results will be. Here’s to you and your best year ever in 2015!
Mutually Assured Success: A Your Business Selfie Challenge
An accountability partner is another entrepreneur, preferably someone who is not in the same exact industry or target market as you. The basic purpose is to share goals with one another – either on a daily or weekly basis – and commit to accomplishing them within a certain time frame. You email or call one another to share your goals, then agree on when you will reconnect to report back.
Besides providing focus, connection, and motivation, there are numerous benefits to having an accountability partner, especially if you tend to be a work-alone introvert.
- Structure – There are certain business tasks and ideas that no one knows about but you, so they can continue to be recycled on the to-do list. Having regular accountability conversations gives you a structure and deadlines for those projects so you can move forward instead of spinning and thinking, “well, nobody knows about it, so it doesn’t have to happen today…”
- Feedback – Over time, your partner will know almost as much about your business as you do, and vice versa. That makes it possible to provide solicited feedback about what each of you notices about the other person’s priorities and strategies.
- Problem solving – Whether it’s negotiating with a new client, making a prospecting call, or dealing with a sticky situation, you become a sounding board for each other and can offer direct, informed advice based on your intimate knowledge of one another’s business and goals.
- Acknowledgment and Encouragement – As your partnership matures, you’ll start to see the long arc of your progress and be able to remind each other of how well we’re doing, especially when one of you gets discouraged or loses focus.
Consider who among your colleagues you’d enjoy being accountability partners with. Then ask! Have a conversation to agree on basic starting principles, with an agreement to evaluate as you go and adjust the arrangement as needed. Aim to have the partnership in place by the time you complete the Your Business Selfie process.
Here’s the podcast conversation I had with my accountability colleague, Arden Clise of Clise Etiquette, to provide you with additional information about how to establish a productive and enjoyable accountability partnership.
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