I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations. – Vance Joy, Riptide
I hear you, Vance. I’m terrified of starting conversations. As a majorly introverted shy wallflower, I don’t like talking to new people. The idea of attending a networking event makes me start nervous-sweating and hoping my car will break down on the way there.
The thing is—when I was just starting out as a freelancer—this whole introversion thing left me in a bit of a predicament. But I decided to grow my business my way. And it worked!
After some trial and error, I figured out how to grow my business from the comfort and safety of my office-cave.
Here are the 6 ways I created a steady stream of work while being my introverted self:
1. Do good work
When you’re first starting, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to get clients via referrals. Even if you only have one client, do really good work for them.
When you deliver a quality product and a great experience, you’ll be easy to recommend. (At the end of the project, you can also ask for a testimonial which you can put on your website and share on social media.)
2. Find clients who need ongoing work from you
Instead of finding one-off projects, figure out a way to repeatedly work with the same clients.
Companies need annual reports every year. Clients need ongoing web maintenance. Product manufacturers regularly need new labels. And marketing companies always need graphic design services.
Tailor your services to clients that keep on giving.
3. Keep in touch
Sending a newsletter is an awesome way to continuously stay in touch with without having to talk face-to-face.
Add clients to your newsletter list—and have a place on your website where prospects can sign up. Send a short newsletter regularly so people keep remembering you.
Also, keep in touch with contacts from your previous life. (I used to work for Barnes & Noble Publishing and they became one of my first clients.)
4. Be an expert
Have a niche. When you have a specific thing you do, it will be easier for people to refer good clients your way. You will become known for your specialty among your connections—and that creates a snowball effect.
5. Make friends with Google
A great way to get new contacts is to have people find you via Google. Even though you might provide services to clients all over the world, you can achieve good SEO rankings for your specialty and location.
For example, I rank highly on Google’s first page for “Atlanta WordPress Developer” and other terms related to my niche. If you want to really grasp the power of SEO, incorporate a blog into your website.
6. Connect online
If you know what you do, and who you do it for, it will be easier to find groups of potential clients online.
LinkedIn is a great place to do this. Start to participate and make connections. You can even reach out via email and introduce yourself. If that feels too overwhelming, you can also hang out online with other people who share the same interests.
For example, if you’re a musician who does graphic design for other musicians, you can join online music communities where you belong but where your services might also be needed.
That’s it! This is how I’ve grown my business and created a steady flow of work as an introvert. Maximize these tools and I’m confident you’ll never have to attend any event you’re dreading.
And don’t worry, as you grow your business, you will start to feel braver.
Eventually, it won’t be so horrible to go somewhere and talk about what you do. Practice makes perfect. These days, I do attend some networking events, and I’ve even spoken at a few!
So next time somebody tells you to “get out there and network,” remember this:
You don’t have to be extroverted or make yourself uncomfortable to have a successful business. You don’t have to do it anybody’s way except your own!