Updated: Oct 10
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I have been shy my whole life. In school I would never raise my hand or speak in class if I didn't have to. It was always painful for me to force communication when I was filled with so much anxiety and fear about speaking. Even in Elementary school during the spring or fall concerts that we would have where we sing in front of an audience, I could never muster up the courage to sing I was that shy. Fast forward to now, I have come a long way from being an introvert in the business world.
One thing I love about design, aside from the creativity involved, is the ability to work without needing to meet face-to-face or even take phone calls. It wasn't until this year (2023), that I added discovery calls into my process because I didn't feel comfortable speaking with clients over the phone. Engaging in a conversation has always been a challenge for me.
But since I've been running my business full-time for the past two years, I've realized that in order to scale and grow, I need to change my mindset. I need to put myself out there, market my business, and have genuine conversations with people. That's the only authentic way to create connections and establish meaningful relationships with clients.
Over the past two years, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone numerous times, and I've seen great results for my business. I've spoken on a panel, taught two website workshops, started a podcast, and started showing my face on social media through video it's just been a crazy wild ride. Because of all of that good stuff, I was able to land clients, grow my email list, and spread brand awareness of my business. Stepping out of my comfort zone has opened up new opportunities and allowed me to grow. If you're also an introverted business owner I want to share some tips with you so. you can also aspire to scale and expand your business as well. So, if you're ready to embrace a gradual shift and take small steps towards becoming more outgoing, let's dive in together.
1. No Need to Get Crazy, Start with Small Steps Begin by challenging yourself to take small steps outside of your comfort zone. Try and engage in casual conversations with people you don't normally talk to. Attend small networking events where you can interact with new people. Or if you like to attend webinars push your boundaries while still feeling safe by commenting in the chat box which is where I am right now.
Starting with small steps lets you slowly expand your comfort zone without overwhelming yourself. If you're typically quiet during meetings, make it a goal to speak up and share your thoughts at least once or twice. Even a simple contribution can make a difference. The first time I attended a conference I challenged myself to pitch my business to three different people and surprisingly, it turned out well, and I even landed a job opportunity as a result. But I understand that maybe this level of exposure might be too much so start slow.
To start out try having a conversation with someone you already feel comfortable with. Taking baby steps will put you out there and let others know that you exist. It's about gradually building confidence.
2. Set Yourself up with Attainable Goals Define specific goals for yourself, such as initiating a certain number of conversations at an event or giving a presentation to a small group. You can always gradually increase your goals as you become more comfortable with being more outgoing.
Setting goals for yourself is really important. Like I said before I had a goal to pitch my business to 3 different people at a conference and that felt really good and attainable. It involved stepping out of my comfort zone just enough to feel like I was doing something that I normally wouldn't do. By setting a goal for myself since I had a number to go off of and it was a 2-day conference. I knew that if I only talked to 1 person on the 1st day then I know I would have to talk to two people next day.
Maybe a goal for you is to finally be able to add discovery calls to your process. For the first 7 years of my business, I didn't take discovery calls for the longest time. I just always felt really frozen on the phone and I felt like I never really knew what to say. But after realizing that so much emotion and information gets lost in emails and by talking to someone and having an actual conversation discovery calls have given me much clarity about the client and their needs. Something as little as being able to be confident during a discovery call has not only transformed my business and the quality of work that I produce but it makes me feel that much more powerful, like I can do anything. And this is the perfect lead into the next tip I have which is to prepare and practice.
3. Prepare and Practice What You Are Going to Say
So back to my discovery call story I always felt really overwhelmed and nervous about phone calls. I've never been very good at keeping a conversation going. But by preparing and having a script in front of me it helps remind me about what I want to talk about. I don't write a word-for-word script but I at least have my ideas laid out to remind me about what I wanna talk about.
Taking the time to prepare really makes all the difference. The first time I took a discovery call I was really nervous and stumbled on my words more than I wanted but with each call, I definitely got better. Know that nothing has to be perfect but as long as you start you can only get better. This year, I challenged myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and taught a couple of in-person workshops. From my network, I had the opportunity to teach these classes and I thought it was the perfect way opportunity to do something out of my comfort zone.
Whenever I have a presentation coming up, I always practice. It could be while I'm showering, while I'm driving, in front of my husband, or even in front of my 23-month-old son. Talking out loud really helps me get my ideas flowing and it helps me feel confident and comfortable standing in front of an audience, teaching and sharing my knowledge. Practice truly boosts confidence, and there's no better way to feel good about yourself while striving to become more outgoing than by preparing and practicing beforehand. That's where fear lies right? Fear lives in the unknown and the uncertainty so the more that you can get rid of those factors the better you will be at becoming more outgoing.
4. Always Go in With an Outgoing Mindset Having the right mindset is going to set you up for success. You can't grow your business without talking to people and networking. You have to keep that bigger picture in mind. Diving in with the right mindset is going to help you feel more confident, and it's gonna make you more enjoyable to be around. Because if you enter a place and you don't want to be there and you don't want to meet people, then that vibe is going to radiate off of you, and it's gonna be obvious. So always come in with the right mindset.
5. Leverage Your Passion When You Don't Know What to Say
I think one of the things that makes me really nervous about networking or communicating with clients is that I always black out and feel like I don't know how to respond. If you're in the same boat and feel like you don't know what to say, then think of a couple of topics beforehand that you're really passionate about and you don't have to think twice about. Those are great things to prepare before you go to a networking event. That way, when you go to speak, you already know everything about it because you're passionate about it, and it's going to flow easier and feel better. When you speak to people and you're passionate about something, it really does show. That enthusiasm shines through with what you're saying, and it's going to come off lively and confident.
6. Practice Active Listening and be Genuinely Interested
I think, as an introvert, we're more listeners than talkers, and we should use that to our advantage. By practicing active listening and showing genuine interest, we can truly engage with the person. Ask them open-ended questions that encourage them to delve deeper and continue talking, instead of just yes or no questions. This way, they will be doing most of the talking while you actively listen. It's a win-win because people love to talk about themselves.
7. Seek Outgoing Partnerships
My husband is 100% more outgoing than I am, and it works really well for us. When I feel mentally drained and find it difficult to know what to say, he's really good at keeping the conversation going. He's genuine and authentic and knows how to ask the right questions. Unlike me, he's not afraid of what people think, and I really envy that about him.
If you're starting out and looking for a business partner, consider finding someone who is more outgoing than you. You can leverage their skills, especially if they are good at public speaking you can hand off that task to them along with other tasks that require more extroverted qualities. Together, you can complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.
On the other hand, if you're running your business alone, collaborating with extroverted business owners can be beneficial. If you find yourself in a group setting they can help keep the conversation flowing.
8. Embrace the World of Online Networking Join a few Facebook groups and actually engage with other members. Answer questions that the group host or other members ask. If you frequently attend webinars, don't just observe get in the chat box and participate.
Use the advantage of not being physically present to step out of your comfort zone and gradually become more outgoing. This way you're still challenging yourself but communicating in a way that feels comfortable.
You can't expect to overcome being an introvert in business without starting somewhere and I think commenting on Facebook groups or participating in webinars is a great starting point, especially if you don't feel comfortable with face-to-face communication just yet. You can even reach out to individual members through private messages for a more intimate connection while still putting yourself out there.
9. Make Sure You Take Breaks to Recharge
When you know that you're going to do something social make sure you're fully charged. As an introvert, it can be draining to constantly interact with others. Do whatever works best for you to recharge your mind beforehand. This could mean taking a week off from social activities leading up to it or even just a couple of days off.
And definitely take the time to recharge after which is also important. Let's say that you're going to a networking event if you're able to find quiet moments throughout the day to decompress that's gonna do wonders as well. This could be as simple as running to the bathroom or sitting in your car for 30 minutes just do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable. But don't forget that it is good to step out of your comfort zone for a little bit so don't go off running to your car every time you feel uncomfortable it's okay to be uncomfortable, that’s how you grow.
10. Celebrate Small Wins
It's hard to step out of your comfort zone and do something new. When you actually do accomplish your goals and step out of your comfort zone acknowledge it and celebrate your progress. Even something as simple as getting your favorite coffee, which is one of my favorite ways to celebrate or getting your favorite ice cream is going to motivate you to keep going. Celebrating your wins will remind you that you can do hard things and you're capable of being a little bit more outgoing. With each step, no matter how small, you are gradually breaking free from your shell. Be proud of yourself at every stage of the journey.
Recap And there you have it tips to help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning to be more outgoing for your business is going to take time. It's a personal journey that might take years to get really comfortable with but it's so worth it.
You can't be a super successful business without taking risks and getting uncomfortable. So put yourself out there, take your time, take baby steps, and it will do wonders for your business in the long run. With that said here's a quick recap about what we talked about today Start with Small Steps: Take small steps outside your comfort zone, such as engaging in casual conversations or attending small networking events.
Set Attainable Goals: Define specific goals for yourself and gradually increase them as you become more comfortable with being outgoing.
Prepare and Practice: Take the time to prepare what you want to say and practice beforehand to boost your confidence.
Maintain an Outgoing Mindset: Approach networking and communication with a positive mindset and focus on the bigger picture of growing your business.
Leverage Your Passion: Prepare topics you're passionate about to start conversations and showcase your enthusiasm.
Practice Active Listening: Use your listening skills to engage with others and ask open-ended questions that encourage deeper conversations.
Seek Outgoing Partnerships: Consider partnering with someone more outgoing who can complement your strengths and handle tasks requiring extroverted qualities.
Embrace Online Networking: Engage in Facebook groups and webinars to challenge yourself while communicating in a comfortable manner.
Take Breaks to Recharge: Prioritize self-care by taking breaks before and after social interactions to recharge and find moments of calm.
Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small, to motivate yourse
lf and build confidence.
There you have it I'll talk to you later. Happy designing.