By Lori Chance I’m a writer. As a writer, I love being near my computer. I can spend days hiding in my office and not even realize it. And yet, I also need to build my business.
I know many creative professionals who enjoy their computers so much that they have learned how to build their businesses completely online. But I also hear about the many frustrations they experience such as: having to compete for every penny, having to figure out which requests for free samples are from serious professionals and which ones are from people trying to take advantage, figuring out how to avoid the frequent online scams, and even the realization that no matter how many clients they succeed with, it’s as if they’re always getting started in business rather than building a solid baseline.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a better way to do business? I believe there is.
Face to face networking with real live people.
I know. I know. Creative professionals aren’t exactly known for being the most comfortable in groups, but it does work, and there are far more benefits to it than you might think.
I remember the first networking group I attended. I had the opportunity to share a little information about myself and my business. Although I had time to prepare, I was a nervous wreck. I’d practiced and practiced my 60 seconds for a week, but when it was my turn to actually speak, I stood up, hyperventilated, and sat back down. I think I may have gotten out my name, but I don’t remember.
I was determined to make it work though, so I kept going back. Three years later I’m able not only to give a 60-second presentation in front of 15 people, I’m doing trainings and presentations in front of 50 or more people on a regular basis – something I never thought I’d be doing, let alone enjoying.
By getting out from behind my desk, I have not only overcome shyness, I have built a business that comes to me instead of me having to chase after it. Meeting people face to face allows me to build relationships with professionals who are fun to work with, want to see me succeed, truly appreciate what I offer, and who are not only willing to refer more business to me, but actively work on doing so. And I don’t have to worry about falling prey to an online phishing scams.
If you’ve got a ton of creative writing talent and want to build a business that’s fun, but find it incredibly challenging to get out from behind your computer due to shyness, here are a few things I’d recommend:
1. When you first walk into a networking group, most likely people will be milling around and trying to get to know one another. Come prepared with one or two questions in mind that will get the other person talking. I found that the more I got the other person talking, the more comfortable I got. Ironically enough, they always thought I was a great conversationalist because I listened. What I learned later was that listening and asking questions was what would make me stand out among other professionals in their minds, later.
2. If you have the opportunity to say a few words to the entire group, take it. No matter how well (or bad) you think it might go, people are far more understanding than you might think. The number one fear for people is public speaking. But here’s a tip: you don’t have to look them in the eye. If you look at their foreheads or right about their hairline, it will appear to them as if you’re looking them in the eye, but it’s far less nerve-racking for you.
3. No running away. Find a networking group that you can get involved in and build solid one-to-one relationships. The more people get to know, like, and trust you, the easier it becomes to talk in front of them. Plus, they’ll often share their tips for success with you.
Networking isn’t just for extroverts and sales people. Creative introverts—writers like you and me—can build profitable networks, as well. It will take courage and time, but I can tell you from experience that it’s well worth the effort. Just imagine a business in which you can charge what you’re worth, they’re looking forward to your call, and they really appreciate what you have to offer. And keep holding that image . . . .
Lori Chance is the author of Who Am I, a self-coaching book for women who want something ‘more’ from life but don’t know where to start, and offers affordable life coaching services to women around the world. Lori also mentors both traditional and creative professionals in BNI, the world’s largest referral organization. To learn more about Lori, visit www.LoriChance.com.