I’ve always hated making phone calls.
People close to me know this.
I’ve gotten better about it, but to this day, I still prefer other modes of communication when available. In fact, after texting became a thing, I rarely called my friends anymore. I’m pretty sure that even today, seeing an incoming call from me would send them into waves of panic, picturing me trapped and bloody, in my overturned car lodged at the bottom of a ditch.
And these are people I know!
With people I don’t know, this fear has reared up in even more pronounced (and embarrassing) ways.
My parents made all of my calls for me through my teenage years and right into my first few semesters of college.
I’m sure this is what stunted me.
I would only pick up the phone when absolutely necessary, and when I did, I usually waited in nervous anticipation, sweating a little until the person on the other end of the phone picked up. And when they did, I would stammer through whatever I needed to say, sometimes tripping over my own name.
The good news is that this less-than-desirable behavior began to fade after a bunch of years and out of necessity, many, many phone calls. I’m proud to report that I was finally able to make a call like a normal person by the time I was in my mid-twenties.
But, I’m still not brilliant at networking. I’m making strides, forcing myself out of the old comfort zone, but it’s definitely a work in progress.
I’ve definitely been the one standing in the corner at a large networking event, avoiding eye contact with all humans by staring down at my phone and hanging out on social media instead of actually talking to anyone in person.
All this to say, I get it.
People are scary.
Hey, I know there are plenty of you out there who would get on a Skype call with Oprah tomorrow if she asked with not so much as a twinge of nervousness. You, who glide through networking events like a hot knife through butter, making connections and picking up business cards left and right with the greatest of ease.
This post is not for you.
For the rest of us introverts, mild introverts, the reserved, timid, or those who just have “trouble coming out of your shell” (the phrase my mom always used in describing me), there is hope.
I know you know this. But, I think it’s worth emphasizing the point here.
People make businesses.
There really is no (or very little) way around it. This is especially true for those of us with service-based businesses.
Our businesses (and the businesses we want) serve people.
They depend on people.
People need our help.
People pay our invoices.
People refer us to other people.
It’s all about people.
So, sharpening up our “people skills” is an awesome way to grow and improve our businesses.
With me so far?
Connecting with others can take on as many shapes and forms as you can imagine. And actually, it can lead you to some incredible opportunities and experiences you’ve not yet imagined!
Some of the most common reasons most of us are looking to reach out in relation to our businesses are:
- To find more clients
- To research your industry/field
- To get more in tune with what your target market needs
- To find support and camaraderie with others who are on the same or similar paths as you
So, we get out there on social media and dip our toes into the waters of Facebook groups. We intend to connect, to build our networks, to inform, to help, to engage…
But, it usually goes like this:
You see someone in a Facebook group you think you might be able to help, or who may be able to help you, or whose post really struck a chord with you or just someone you’d like to know.
But, time and time again you find your interaction is limited to a “like” on a post or an encouraging smiley. That’s it.
Well, what would happen if you made a genuine effort to connect with this person beyond a small, fleeting show of agreement?
Could you “friend” them? Send them a simple message telling them how much you appreciated their post (or their input or support on your post)?[Enter the little voice in your head]
“What if they don’t care about what I have to say?”
“What if I waste their time?”
“What if I don’t know what to say?”
“What if they don’t respond?”
**By the way, my friend and Lifestyle Design Coach, Al Clunnie has written a fantastic guide to connecting on Facebook. Click here to read it on the Freelance to Freedom Project!
Fear Of Reaching Out (FORO) is real.
And even with my advancing age (which brings greater self-assuredness, to which I attribute my diminishing FORO) I can’t say the fear doesn’t still strike me from time to time.
These things routinely go through my head too.
“What if they think I’m an idiot?”
“What if I lose this opportunity?”
But here’s the thing:
It’s very too easy to “what if” yourself right out of taking any action.
Now you’ve stopped yourself, dead in your tracks. And all because of fear of an outcome that might not ever happen.
So, what if then?
What if they don’t like you, or don’t respond, or you sound like a fool, or you think you’ve wasted someone’s time?
Will you die?
Will it kill all hope of you ever having a successful business?
Remember that other people are still people.
They have emotions.
They get nervous.
They don’t always say what they meant to say.
And they worry about what you think!
What’s more, 9 times out of 10, you will find that they want to help.
Keeping in mind that other people are still people and keeping everything in perspective are two great strategies for overcoming FORO.
A client of mine, just starting out with her marketing business, sent a semi-cold email to a very successful life coach and podcaster she had been following for a long time and really admired, offering him help with his marketing.
He’d put out a call on his show asking for social media help, but she was contacting him now out of the blue, 6 months later. But, it didn’t stop her.
She drafted her email, hit “send”, and waited.
He responded and they set up a call!
She told me her fear was about a “5 on a scale of 1 to 10 for the email and a 7 out of 10 for the call.”
But, she went ahead with it because of,
“Desire to get the job, knowing you would check up on me, knowing it’s the right thing to do, not letting fear beat me, knowing there was a chance it could work out…”
She aced the call, landed the job, and is now hard at work on her second proposal for this client!
All because she sent that email.
On a similar note, emails I sent to a handful of podcasters whose shows I loved when I was thinking of starting my own business as a virtual assistant led me to landing two clients.
Here’s what I sent to one podcaster I’d had a handful of conversations with prior:
I am doing a lot of research right now on the various types of Virtual Assistant functions. I want to compare my current skill set to what’s typically required of a VA and then put together a plan to beef up my skills where necessary to match what the market wants. Do you use VA’s (I’m guessing you do)? If so, can you give me an idea of the sorts of things that you (and other folks in your network) are hiring VA’s for as well as a rough sketch of what you look for in a candidate? This would help me immensely!
True, I had built a very casual rapport with these podcasters before I sent these emails, but if I was emailing cold now I would only make a few slight tweaks this approach.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to dealing with our fears around what others are going to think of us.
Well, if we’re honest, genuine, and generous in our interactions, we’ll make the connections that matter.
How would you like to get plugged into an awesome community of motivated rock stars like yourself who are working to create the futures they want for themselves? Click here to find out more about the Side Hustlers & Financial Freedomfighters community on Facebook!
So, now I’m curious.
What are some of your “what if’s” holding you back from connecting?
What are you doing (or what will you do) to get past them?
Drop me a comment below and let me know!