In the illustrious, aloof and evasive marketing world promoting your brand, product, name or all of the above can seem like a daunting task. And if you are an introvert by nature it can seem so overwhelming that this alone might be the very reason to avoid promotion all together.
Three years ago, while working on completing my first book -- A Widow's Guide to Healing -- I discovered that in order to obtain a literary agent I would need a platform. Never before had I heard of the concept platform, and the word still makes me cringe. When I began to understand all that would be needed to create a "platform," I wanted to quit. I'm not a famous person, nor do I have a recognizable last name, and I'm not related to anyone famous, so I knew that cultivating a platform as an introvert would be intense to say the least. And the phrase "self-promotion" still seems to be a bit much, but it is a reality for marketing purposes. Here's some easy networking steps for introverts.
1. Research and specifically target who you want to add to your network. For an introvert, every conversation can be a potential stressor, so making sure that you are talking with the right person is very critical. Look at a few people within your wheelhouse that you want to emulate. Don't just read one blog post they wrote, instead delve into what they do on a daily basis. Look at all their social media platforms and website. Use a search engine to explore what others are saying about them and see what organizations and causes they support. This allows you to fully appreciate what is involved in creating their brand.
2. Identify who the people you admire interact with and reach out to them in an email or social media. After you've completed the above suggestion, go ahead and send the email or tweet. A few years ago, I did this with Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP and eventually reached out to him with one tweet. He became my mentor and friend.
3. Use email and social media to connect with others. Both verticals allow introverts to converse in the privacy of their home and also allow time for reflection. Introverts sometimes stumble in face- to- face conversations when they are unsure of how to respond, and social media permits much needed breaks. Rereading social media/ emails helps introverts with knowing how to properly respond.
4. Look for key phrases in magazines, social media and emails. Introverts tend to have very limited conversations with strangers so the chance of picking up on current and popular phrases is slim. Browse through websites and print materials to see what's currently being written and spoken. When you begin to use some of these words on social media, the chances increase that you'll be noticed.
5. Practice your pitch. People tend to have very short attention spans, and you need to captivate their mind within seconds. For the extrovert this is not a challenge, but for the introvert it can send create a panic attack. Stick with three or four sentences and practice with someone.
6. Join social media groups- such as LinkedIn and Facebook. These groups can be informative and other members may be able to answer your questions as well. There is little pressure to engage.
7. Structure your time alone. Introverts need more time than others to decompress and unwind. Ignoring this self- care step can create unpleasant physical effects. Your alone time is not selfish it is an essential part of maintain sanity. When you feel especially tense, try to rest before your next meeting.
8. Check your emotions. Introverts tend to be extremely sensitive and one look or no return email can unhinge them. Know that your reactions as an introvert are most likely blown out of proportion because this is your very nature. Think of it like an allergic reaction. Everyone is not allergic to the same thing. Introverts tend to have an allergic reaction to blank stares or unanswered emails. In other words, don't overreact to a pause. People, especially those who are very successful, tend to be pulled in multiple directions and this leaves little time to respond either in person or online. It is okay in time to send a follow up note.
9. Don't be afraid to ask. We all need help from time to time. It is difficult to be an expert in all areas, so when you know you need assistance go ahead and ask.
10. Find a mentor. This doesn't have to be someone famous. Your mentor may be someone whose blog you follow or a friend. Ask them to guide you and offer to reimburse them for their efforts. This sets the tone that you value their time and wisdom.
Kristin Meekhof is a speaker, licensed master's level social worker, writer, author of "A Widow's Guide to Healing" with cover blurbs from Maria Shriver and her dear friend Deepak Chopra, MD. Kristin is a contributor to "Psychology Today", Intent and ESME. She was a panelist at the Parliament of World Religions and at the University of MI Hospital. Her piece, "The Healing Power of Gratitude" is part of the book "Live Happy:Ten Practices For Choosing Joy" by Deborah Heisz. Kristin was a recent speaker at Fitbloggin' 16. She knows that gratitude is the answer to every question.