By Natalie MacNeil (Co-Founder, YEC Women) The following answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs.
Q: I'm inherently introverted and hate doing sales, pitches, speaking opportunities, etc, but as a founder and I can't avoid it. What tips do you have for overcoming these fears?
"As a fellow introvert, I find that managing my energy and focus is the best way to bring the best of yourself to these meetings. If you give yourself a little bit of quiet time—even just five minutes—beforehand to collect your thoughts and really understand the root of what you want to communicate, the rest will come more naturally."
"I used to dislike going to networking events too so I started telling myself that if I went, all I had to do was stay fifteen minutes; if I didn't like it, I could leave. Sometimes I do leave after just fifteen minutes, but most of the time I end up finding someone I like talking to or start having a great time and staying."
"The only way to feel more comfortable in these types of settings is to keep doing them, over and over and over again. You might be awkward or fumble a bit at first, but with practice, you'll learn to have confidence and poise. To feel comfortable speaking, you might actually learn to enjoy it. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to put yourself out there in order to get there."
"There's no getting around sales, pitches and speaking opportunities because they're essential for all businesses—but no one says you have to do it alone! If these skills are your weaknesses, find a co-founder or salesperson who has these activities as a strong suit. Many successful ventures launch with one founder being the internal leader and others focusing on promotion and sales."
"Introverts are often the most effective public speakers because they make it a priority to connect with an audience rather than engage in self-promotion. Use stories to connect with your audience—show them why you are passionate about your company and how you have positively impacted others. Stories are your best way to persuade, entertain, and perhaps most importantly, diffuse nervousness."
This post was originally posted at The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs.
The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff on Flickr. Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Natalie MacNeil is an Emmy Award winning Producer at the digital media company she co-founded, Imaginarius. She passionately works to get more women into business in her role as Co-Founder of YEC Women with Scott Gerber and through her blog, She Takes on the World. Natalie is frequently quoted and interviewed in the media discussing entrepreneurship, personal branding for women, and new media. Follow her on Twitter at @nataliemacneil.