When you’re making your rounds on the startup scene, it can seem like everyone around you is schmoozing and chatting it up with fellow entrepreneurs, potential investors, and potential clients. It’s like the rest of the world’s businesspeople were born with networking chips firmly implanted in their frontal lobes.
But being an introvert in no way precludes you from succeeding at starting your business. In fact, in many ways, it’s an asset. So, how to put introversion to good use?
Know Your Strengths
The very things that make you an introvert — taking time out to think before you act, exploring ideas and concepts in meaningful ways, and working best on your own — also make you an ideal candidate for a leadership position, particularly when it comes to new start-ups or small businesses.
Imagine what you’re asking an investor to do, from taking a risk by putting their money in your hands to supporting your idea to hanging their own reputation on your success. Will they want someone at the helm who’s going to act recklessly and impulsively, or someone who is self-driven and self-motivated, and who will thoughtfully weigh their options before making a decision?
So start out by reminding yourself of that. You are in a position of power; you have something investors want, no matter how charming and outgoing the guy at the next table over might look to you.
Prepare … A Lot.
There’s no sense in worrying about whether you’ll be over-prepared, whether you’re going to sound stiff, or how much you wish that you could fly by the seat of your pants like you (feel like) everyone else does. Put on your blinders, and focus on yourself and your idea. And then get yo’ preparation on!
Whether you’re doing a presentation for potential investors or just going to a networking event, take some time in the days leading up to it to decide what you want to say, and what you want to emphasize about your business. Obviously, if you’re giving a presentation, you’ll want to plan it all out, and then you’ll want to practice until you can do it backwards and with your eyes closed.
In a more relaxed setting, like a cocktail party or something similarly social, jot down a few notes in advance about how you might open conversations, as well as key talking points about your business; think of it as the elevator pitch, and a few steps out after that. Also, think about the questions people have already posed to you about your business, be they from friends, family, or even strangers. Those are likely the same questions you’ll get from investors; using those as a guidepost, plan out your answers.
Put Your Passion Front and Center
What is it that drives you about your business? Why do you love it? Take plenty of time prior to speaking with investors to zero in on that feeling, and put it into succinct words. Then, open with it; people will pick up on your energy and passion and get excited. Don’t worry so much — or at all! — about what you think other people will find interesting. If you find something interesting, that will come across in your pitch — and ultimately draw in the right investors.
Focus On What You’ve Already Accomplished
If you’re nervous about talking to investors, you’re probably letting fear get in the way. But think about this: just by starting your business, or even trying to start it, you’ve gotten far further than most people who daydream about becoming an entrepreneur. So pat yourself on the back, and remember that you’re much braver than you think.
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