I wish I could sell myself. That’s what a Wise Introvert email list subscriber (and fellow introvert entrepreneur) wrote to me. I am so grateful for her comment because I know that many of you feel the same underlying frustration.
It touched a soft spot in me too. Let’s face it, for most of us, self-promotion is an ongoing area for growth and confidence building.
Whether you’re building a successful career or a sustainable business, the requirement that, “I have to sell myself”, can feel like an overwhelming but necessary “evil” at times.
What does “sell myself” really mean? And can we think about it differently so it makes it easier for us to do?
Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:
What if…we don’t sell ourselves. What if, instead, we offer solutions – based on our own particular combination of skills, abilities, and personal qualities – that are perceived as valuable by another person who wishes to benefit from what we have to offer. In that case, an exchange is made between two equals based on mutual benefit.
What if…your job is to simply show up and BE SEEN by those particular people in ways that feel most natural for you so that you can be at your best.
What if…the more TRUE you are, the more clear you will be about the value you have to offer (and therefore be able to communicate that more easily).
What if…the most successful selling came from what introverts already do most naturally. Listening, researching, observing, noticing, asking questions, analyzing – understanding what the need is so you can speak directly to how you can help with that.
On a personal level, I recall many a time when I would apply for a job in a way that was not coming from a place of authenticity and strength. I would try to present myself in a way that I thought would prove that I fit in (figuring out how to “play the game” so I could be chosen), versus making choices that would lead me to where I would be valued – and valuable – just as I am.
Now, in my business, I face decisions daily related to the marketing and selling of my services. Now, I am consciously practicing the Be Brave, Be Seen, Be True that I am nudging other introverted women – like YOU – to choose (and I know that it’s not easy).
In doing so, I’m figuring out my own best way to do what I want to do, honouring myself in the process. So can you.
That said, fear will still charge in. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being rejected. Fear that you won’t be perfect. Fear that you’ll get in over your head. Fear that you’ll sound/look foolish, unprofessional, or pushy.
In the end, it is true that, if you want to earn an income (whether by getting hired for the job you want or by running a profitable business), you must find a way to communicate your value.
That value is about how you help others achieve their goals (not how you’re the most perfect person amongst your competition).
I would suggest that, if you are in a situation where you feel like you’re “selling yourself”, that icky feeling that I suspect we’ve all experienced, take a step back and ask whether what you’re doing is the right fit for you OR whether you’re trying really hard to do it the way someone else said is right (aka you’re changing yourself to try to fit in, be chosen, get paid etc.).
The more authentic the fit and conversation between what you offer and what your “purchasers” are looking for, the less the exchange will feel like a slimy sales job. It doesn’t have to feel icky. Figure out and then express how you can help them achieve what they want.
Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True…Be YOU.
A final thought: I know that putting yourself out there to be “chosen” feels very personal. How can it not be when you put your heart into your work? But, at the end of the day, you are not a more valuable or worthy person if you get that big job you want, or sell your top dollar service. You just made more money.
So on the flip side, not being chosen (or when nobody purchased what you were selling) is not a personal rejection. It just means you have more figuring out to do. So keep at it and find the resources you need to stay in motion! Somebody needs what you have to offer.