Overcoming Shyness for the Sake of Word-of-Mouth Promotion

I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m a listener, not a talker. A reader, not a speaker. A thinker, not a babbler. You get the idea.

I’m working on it.

It’s a constant battle for improvement. Extroverts have a hard time understanding it. They are easily friendly conversationalists, who hardly feel awkward in social or business situations. They can naturally be themselves and not be afraid of saying the wrong thing or caring even if they do. The extroverts dominate the business meetings, for better or for worse, and tend to reap the benefits of their exuberant personalities. In the professional world, basting in the spotlight can be a good thing. Avoiding it, as I tend to do, can result in professional stagnation.

I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m still referred to as “the quiet one” at work, but not because I don’t speak up when I need to. I may not blab a lot for the sake of filling the air with conversation, but I am better about saying what needs to be said, and responding to an already existing conversation–therefore establishing a presence. I still feel like I need to work harder than the extroverts, and allow my work to speak for me (hoping that my bosses notice.) But a lot of progress has been made from the girl who was occasionally accused of being a mute in high school.

I still need to work harder on it though. Especially when it comes to promoting my handmade business in face-to-face situations.

What happens in reality:

Observer: What a cute barrette! Did you make it?

My Response: Thank you! I did.

*The conversation ends.*

What SHOULD happen:

Flower Hair Clip - $14.95

Observer: What a cute barrette! Did you make it?

My response: Thank you! Yes I did! I have lots more too! You can see see them in my online Etsy shop. Here’s my business card. I also do special orders, so if there is something that you would like in differentiate colors or in a different design, you can let me know.

Observer: Thanks! *takes card*

The worst thing that could happen is the example observer will throw my card away and never visit my shop. Which would, of course, be no different from the conversation prior in which I never mentioned it. On the plus side, he or she might actually visit my shop, share it with someone else, and increase my possibilities of drumming up business.

Conclusion? Overcoming shyness pays off.

Ways I can work to overcome it:

  1. Wear my product
  2. Always carry business cards
  3. Encourage those I talk to to share my shop with someone else. (e.g. “If you’re not the jewelry-wearing type, maybe you know someone who would appreciate a place where she can get some.”)

This is all a lot harder than it appears on paper. The internet is my safe zone. I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed asking my friends to come see my stuff at a craft fair on Facebook, but in real life, especially with complete strangers, it takes a lot more effort than one would think. Hopefully, with preparation and practice, I’ll get better at face-to-face promotion.

Do you struggle with shyness? If so, how do you deal with it?


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29 thoughts on “Overcoming Shyness for the Sake of Word-of-Mouth Promotion

  1. MaryFaithPeace December 19, 2011 at 9:28 am Reply

    Ditto. I’m A LOT like you and glad to know I’m not alone. I’m planning to do some “on the job training” at craft fairs I plan to attend this Spring. I have no problem promoting online, but face-to-face is another thing. I did have a great time meeting folks at a Harry Potter craft fair this past summer. I guess when you share something in common with others, it’s not so difficult. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a product that sells itself.

    ‘Hi’ from the Etsy Blog Team – Faith

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 19, 2011 at 9:39 am Reply

      A Harry Potter craft fair? That sounds magical!

      (Pun, sort of intended! lol)

  2. madamesaslow December 19, 2011 at 9:59 am Reply

    I LOVE it when people compliment my earrings that I’ve made. I try to always respond, “Thank you, I’m an artist. I make them.”
    When they respond “Cool” or something else positive I then offer a business card.
    I do need to work on making sure I’m wearing something of mine every day I go out in public. My dad made the suggestion of going so far as to hand out business cards all the time, like to the person bagging my groceries and such. I don’t know about that… maybe a bit much.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 19, 2011 at 10:43 am Reply

      One of my girlfriends is cosmetologist. She does not shy from giving her cards out to EVERYONE! She leaves one her table when she goes out to eat, hands them out to random people when out shopping, everything. I am sometimes in awe of her nerve and confidence. lol

  3. brittany220 December 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm Reply

    Cool at least you sound like you know what you want to say the next time you’re asked about the products you sell! Maybe just practice saying that with a friend or something so the next time you’re asked you can just be ready with those rehearsed lines. That might make it easier, since when you hear those words from strangers about your products it’ll trigger a cue in you to let them know that they’re for sale. And I have a whole blog on my personal experiences with shyness and overcoming obstacles so I know where you’re coming from. Spending the whole year just focusing on this subject has helped me tremendously, and I am no longer limited by the shy or quiet label I once had put on me. From the things I’ve done and learned this year, I’ve really changed my attitude about myself and realized strengths I never knew I had. I feel much more confident now in the areas I didn’t feel so confident about before. So it really helps to just commit yourself to facing any obstacles you might have. Sharing your progress on your blog is not only helpful for you but helpful for other people as well. Shyness is a very normal experience, but it seems to have a stigma of weakness because people don’t talk about it and share their real feelings and struggles. It’s amazing how many people are going through the same thing as you when you feel like you are alone, you just wouldn’t know it because it’s not something most people disclose. Good luck with your promotion, and thanks for sharing!

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing Brittany! I know I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go! Thank you for sharing your own experiences, it helps a lot!

      • brittany220 December 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm Reply

        Thank you! I hope you share some more of your experiences with this too as I’m sure it will help many people in the same boat as well! There are always things we can improve on and I still have many things to improve on as well. There’s always a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow, no matter who we are. :)

  4. Jessie Yost December 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm Reply

    Thank you for this post! I can so relate. I carry business cards with me everywhere and never hand them out to anyone. My Mother on the other hand wears jewelry I have made her frequently and tells complete strangers all about me before handing them a card if they so much as look at what she is wearing. Gotta love her.
    I like the practice w/ a friend idea that Brittany suggested. Next big step – asking local businesses if you can leave a stack of cards at their door!

    • Jessie Yost December 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm Reply

      Wouldn’t have guessed this by the way because your posts are always so animated and friendly and relate-able.

      • MegansBeadedDesigns December 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm Reply

        Awww, thanks so much! The internet can be quite the safe zone for those of us socially incapable in real life situations.

        … and gotta love the family members that help spread the word! I wonder if they realize how awesome they are! :-)

  5. Heather December 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm Reply

    I’m terribly shy in public too, it’s hard to overcome! I do carry cards on me and when i get a compliment I tell them I make jewelry and I also sell them online, here’s my card! I keep it quick and simple and it’s helped me open up a bit more, but I’m a long way from being a social butterfly :)

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm Reply

      Sounds like you’ve got the routine down pat Heather! Way to be! :-)

  6. Buttonhead December 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm Reply

    Thank you for this post! It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I feel a lot like you do. I’m more of a listener than a talker. This can make business promotion very difficult, especially when it comes to networking. I see people who are so effortless with starting conversations and chatting with others, and I always think, ‘Why can’t *I* do that?!’ I think the key is to keep challenging ourselves. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?

  7. Whatsername Jewelry December 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm Reply

    You should be very proud of your creations. The barette you’ve pictured is beautiful. No one ever really asks me about my work, so I don’t have this problem. Oh boy, that is a problem :) Stay positive and get your name out there. p.s. found you on etsy

  8. Crystal December 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm Reply

    Wow – I can completely relate to this! I struggle with shyness everyday and it can be very tiring.

  9. Michele December 20, 2011 at 10:32 pm Reply

    I’m not particularly shy, but I do find it hard to “read” people. Sometimes if I follow the “What Should Happen” scenario you described, it makes people think that I’m a pushy salesperson and it drives them away. I’m working on getting better at figuring out how much I can say to encourage people to linger longer.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 21, 2011 at 8:29 am Reply

      I totally get what you mean Michele. That’s why at craft fairs I’ll usually wait for the browsers to talk to me first before chatting back at them. Don’t want to scare people away!

  10. clairashley December 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm Reply

    I laughing when I read your post because you hit the nail on the head!
    I get what your saying completely!
    It is terrifying. I feel so vulnerable when I’m showing my jewelry. I think because it was such a big part of me while I was making it and now I’m to release it into the world with the fear of rejection. Lol.

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  13. sheltonpickard January 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm Reply

    You really have hit a nerve with me…it’s sad how a lack of confidence can hold you back in a lot of aspects in your life. I’ve always said (joking with friends that are so SURE of themselves) if I could be in a cubical working on the items and they promote me I would do well!
    okay, I could go on and on but I’m beginning to sound like I’m in therapy!!
    Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one that has these kind of insecurities.

  14. Karen D'Andrea January 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm Reply

    Great post. The funny thing is that I was never shy in my professional life, but with my jewelry it is hard for me to respond to a complement with my business card.

    And when I do hand the card out, I feel uncomfortable.

    I love the jewelry I have been making and am quite proud of it.
    So why do I tell people I know that my Etsy store is “my gallery” and I don’t care if anything sells?

    • MegansBeadedDesigns January 25, 2012 at 8:32 am Reply

      I’m assuming you’re afraid of feeling like a sales person. You don’t want the person you are talking to to feel like you are pressuring them to buy anything, so the “I don’t care if anything sells” releases that pressure.

      However, it doesn’t hurt for people to know that selling your jewelry is part of what pays the bills. If you were a plumber or an electrician, you would say “I don’t care if I get paid, I just love working!”

      You don’t have to straight up ask someone to “please buy something so I can eat” but it doesn’t hurt to say something like, “It’s great that I can pay my electric bill doing something that I love” or “I’m hoping my business will grow from where it’s at now.”

      • Karen D'Andrea January 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm Reply

        You are absolutely correct. I will need to work on this. K

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