Grow Your Business Your Style, Your Way

Carolyn Campbell

The dictionary definition of introvert: someone more concerned with the mental life of the self than with social encounters. As much as I try to dismiss any relevance this definition might have for me, I have to confess – it’s true. I relish the solitary emotional-creative landscape far more than the social realm.

I can spend time alone for days. In quiet. Residing in ethereal landscapes of ideas. When I seep into this world where everyday life ends and vacant space begins, I relax into the wellspring of my life. Fears recede and a simpler, more expansive connection begins.

Yet, another side of me is compelled to call people to the power of their voice and the impact of their life calling.

What Drives You?

At age 25, I had my first professional theater contract. On the first day of the season, the artistic director gathered the new company. She asked us to look around the room. “As you sit here,” she said slowly, “feeling alone, uncertain about how you might fit in,” she paused, “so are 95% of the others in this room. The reason we are all here is to bring something to life. To offer a new way of looking at the world, of living in the world. That is why we are all here. In that, you are not alone.”

She finished by asking us why we wanted to be in the theater. “You must be compelled to do it,” she said. “There are so many easier things to do in life. If you’re not driven, follow another path. Your vision must be greater than your fear. That is how you will succeed.”

Her words continue to guide me. Still an introvert, at times scared of meeting new people, scared of the judgments of others, I use her words as a grounding point. What path am I committed to? How am I bringing that to the world? Is my vision stronger than my fear?

Many of us are paralyzed by the thought of going into the world and sharing our vision with strangers. Worried that we’ll stumble, stammer or look stupid, we hide in our work, safe within our tight-knit circle of friends. Feeling stuck, frustrated and bewildered, we wonder why our work is not where we want it to be. These are the times I ask myself again, “What am I here to do? What am I committed to? What is the exciting ‘revolution’ I want to create? What does my vision ask of me? How can I honor my introvert and live my vision?”

Choose Your Clients

I must confess, there have been a few times when, feeling an urgent need for business, I tried to sell. I was awkward and totally ineffective, and the business I got was not a good match for me. These were powerful, hard lessons. Each time, it became clearer to me: Don’t sell the work. Invite people to the work in an intimate, casual way.

Slowly, I created my own way of bringing my business to the world. I stopped going to strangers; instead, I created a community. It was fun, easy, meaningful. My introvert relaxed. With each group I gained more confidence, more clarity.

Here is a suggestion: Choose the clients you want rather than waiting for them to choose you. Write a list. It helps you identify the type of people you really want to work with and how you most enjoy connecting. Then, apply your style of connecting to your business. Maybe it’s a lecture, or a discussion, or one on one. Your comfort and pleasure will attract people to you. Trust your way. In building a business, it’s the only way.

As Paul Hawken advises in his bestseller, Growing Your Own Business: “Don’t make the mistake of believing you get only one chance to reach your potential customer, or believing that each package or advertisement must tell everything. Much better to proceed as though you are having a long dialogue with your customer. Let the relationship have the expansiveness of a friendship.”

From one introvert to another, I invite you to take your time. Give your vision room to grow. Build and honor the community you want to serve. And all the while, do it in a way that allows you to be you.


Carolyn Campbell believes that the best practices are built by honoring your unique approach to sharing your knowledge, your style, your way. Through one-on-one coaching and action-focused coaching programs, Carolyn offers key outreach skills to grow a thriving business. She also offers practice-building lectures, workshops and seminars for associations, schools and organizations.

 

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