I’m going to a business coaching workshop on Friday, and there’s some prep work that we’ve been asked to do, questions about how our business is doing, how we feel it’s gone over the past three months, turnover, that sort of thing.
An overriding theme through my answers to these questions is ‘it hasn’t gone well’. I know exactly why though – I need to self-promote more, and for someone who is naturally an introvert and has literally had a lifetime of people Not Listening, that’s very difficult.
It’s not that I’m not confident. I know I’m good at what I do (I wouldn’t have kicked in a well paid corporate job to start my business otherwise), but my problem is making other people see that I’m good at what I do so they can book me for jobs. I need to shout louder and promote myself in a marketplace that’s already filled with loud people, and for me, who has been serially ignored throughout my life every time I’ve tried to speak up, that’s quite difficult.
As I was growing up, I found that people generally didn’t want to listen to what I had to say. This happened at work and school quite a lot. At work, I was the person who, if I spoke up in a meeting, someone else would start talking over me so I’d shut up and let the loudmouth finish their point before trying again. Rinse and repeat until I realised there was no point speaking up in meetings and it was easier just to email my manager. I got more response that way. It was similar at school – if I raised my hand to ask something someone else would butt in, and if I was called on to answer a question or something, I would get sneered at while I was answering and quite often after the lesson someone would make a comment about how I was a know it all or something. Or I’d get laughed at, which wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. Luckily I knew I was smart and they were just mean, so that’s all okay, but the overriding feeling is one of ‘nobody wants to hear you so what’s the point of speaking?’.
I think that’s why I started this blog – mainly so I could say what I wanted to say without being talked over by someone else. After all, short of grabbing my laptop out of my hands, nobody can override my typing. I enjoy writing, and am more comfortable in writing words on paper than speaking. I’m amazed I’ve got as many subscribers as I have – I would have been happy with ten but it hit about 65-ish the other day and I was all ‘hold on, hold on, people are actually reading this?’ so that was nice to see. It still surprises me that people want to hear my thrice-weekly dispatches about beauty products and moans about peanuts from my little corner of Surrey, but hey, this started out as something to do for fun and it will continue to be fun, regardless of how many readers or likes I get.
As for the business, I need to get my head around this self promotion stuff, and not be so worried that nobody is listening. People do want to listen, and they do want to hear what I have to say, but I need to change my mindset to one where I believe people will listen to me (and not just to humour me). I’m still new at this business thing, and all my friends who have started their own business say the first year is the worst. Seeing as I’ve been ill for a lot of it too, I think I started off on the back foot anyway, so with the help of the business coaching, a healthy dose of positive thinking and remembering that I’m not at school or my old job now, I reckon that I’ll start to see business pick up soon. I’m spending this month fiddling with my website and making it look beautiful, so hopefully that will help.
And who knows, maybe someone will pick me up for a big contract and all my worrying over not being heard will have been for nothing. You never know, right?