One of the hardest things to do, when you’re an introvert in business – especially where YOU are the “product” – is self-promotion.
It can feel like you’re being pushy, too big for your breeches, showing off, making out that you’re better than everyone else. But if you’re going to be successful in business, you need to “get over yourself” and get out there.
I know, from personal experience, how hard it can be to put yourself at the centre of a promotional campaign. I kept asking myself “who do I think I am?” and “who’s going to be interested in what I have to offer?”
But if you’re building a movement or supporting a good cause – something outside of yourself that you wholeheartedly believe in – it can make self-promotion so much easier for introverts. Of course, this has to be done in the right way.
There’s nothing worse than the likes of “Smashy and Nicey” (comedy characters created by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse), who were always doing things “for charity” if it meant they could plug themselves.
The thing is, though, most of us would move heaven and earth for something we believe in, even if we’re not so willing to do so for ourselves. Here are a couple of good examples.
Foluke Akinlose – Precious Online
When I first met Foluke Akinlose, she told me that, when she was growing up, “there weren’t any inspirational magazines for women of colour” – so she decided, then and there, that she would start one when she was old enough. And that’s exactly what she did.
Precious Online is Foluke’s flagship on-line magazine, and for the past 6 years, Foluke has hosted the Precious awards ceremony, honouring women of colour in business – which has in turn earned her an MBE.
Foluke is able to pull out all the stops, because she’s promoting other women. She’s not blowing her own trumpet.
Lynda Kelly – Butterfly Portraits
Another friend, Lynda Kelly, had always loved taking photographs – but she lacked the confidence to advertise herself as a professional photographer. A few years back, she was working near the Rainbow Trust children’s charity, and decided she wanted to do something to support them.
So it was that the “Finding Grace” project was born – photographing 1,000 women in 1,000 days. “Lend me your face and tell me your story” is the invitation, and for each photo session, Lynda raises £25 for the Rainbow Trust.
Lynda has been tireless in promoting the Finding Grace project. As a result, she has also raised the profile of her photography business, Butterfly Portraits, although that wasn’t the reason for doing what she’s done.
Sing 2 Beat Breast Cancer
In 2013, I helped put together the Sing 2 Beat Breast Cancer choir – 20 women who have been directly affected by breast cancer.
In August, we recorded a charity single, with the proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Campaign charity. We also performed live at a number of prestigious breast cancer charity events during September and October 2013, and even appeared on daytime television to promote the single.
It was a wonderful experience – life-affirming. It’s certainly helped me to put myself out there more, when it comes to promoting the choir – and it’s enabled me to connect with people I might not have got to know before.
The Quiet Entrepreneur
The same year as I helped form the Sing 2 Beat Breast Cancer choir, I launched The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business.
I had watched Susan Cain’s TED talk about The Power of Introverts, and read her book, and suddenly I became aware of how many of my entrepreneurial friends were introverts – and how bad we were at promoting ourselves.
I decided to become an advocate for introverts in business – to enable introverts to meet online and discuss issues affecting them as they attempted to promote their business, raise their profile and increase their visibility.
It’s not always been easy – as an introvert myself, I also have the same challenges when it comes to self-promotion. But it’s definitely been worthwhile.
Is there a cause that you feel drawn to and would like to promote? How would you feel differently about promoting a good cause, rather than your own business? How might that help you gain the confidence to promote yourself and your business?
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.