Indie Beauty Brand Founders Offer Tips For Networking As An Introvert
In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask brand 24 founders and executives: What techniques do you use to network as an introvert?
- Ada Polla CEO, Alchimie Forever
I am an archetypal INTJ, so definitely an introvert, yet being social and networking is an essential part of my job. The most effective way I have found to get over my shyness and introversion is a tool I learned from Tony Robbins a couple of years ago. He recommended a power move and a power name, not necessarily for introverts specifically, but for anyone who has to be able to call up their best self for specific situations. It works every time!
Before heading out to a networking event, I do my power move, and I remind myself of my power name. When wearing my power name, I can do anything, including make small talk, chat, be social, and network.
- Virginia Stone Founder, CEO and CCO, Virginia Stone
I have always been told that I need to be an extrovert to be successful. This is simply not true. I have never tried to change who I am to accommodate others. I feel the greatest achievement is to be comfortable in your own skin, to be honest and authentic, and to share that with the world. There is great strength and potential in utilizing the characteristics that define who I am as an introvert, and I have excelled within my space because I embrace these.
When it comes to networking, I take my own authentic approach. I prefer one-on-one meaningful conversations. I am not a fan of small talk, and I only speak when I feel I have something important or relevant to say. My art speaks for the brand as well as do our ambassadors and partners. It is important to utilize your team and partnerships, and to give your brand a voice of its own. I simply prefer to network through passion, imagery, art and inspiration, staying true to my vision and myself as an introvert.
- Carmella M. Williams Owner and Operator, Carmella Marie
I take a very organic approach to networking. When I enter a space filled with unfamiliar people, I allow my hair to speak for me. I make sure that the curls are perfect and that my grey streak is in full view. People easily gravitate toward my persona and often remember me as the hair lady.
However, if no one is approaching me, I always approach someone with a big smile, introduce myself and immediately compliment them. This usually drives a conversation until we find common ground, which then prompts us to connect via LinkedIn before we part ways. Also, I make sure to attend women-focused events and business expos in Atlanta and New York where I can meet people outside of my Northeast Ohio community.
- JENNIE FRESA Founder and Owner, Copal Clean Beauty
I’m definitely an introvert. However, many people who only know me from work find this quite surprising. A good portion of my time at work is spent on servicing clients or training my staff, which requires giving a lot of myself on a daily basis. I’m also very comfortable working in sales because I’m confident in the information I have to share, and I enjoy educating clients one-on-one about clean beauty.
Outside of work, however, I prefer either being alone or in small groups. Spending time alone helps me recharge my batteries and find the energy I need to be productive at work. Early in my career, I would try to be a fake extrovert because I thought that was what I needed to do in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. I would go to networking parties and feel so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t end up networking at all.
The more I learned to embrace my persona as an introvert, the more I was able to achieve my goals. A book that helped me with that is called "Quiet" by Susan Cain. She offers sound wisdom to introverts trying to figure out how to live and work in a culture that favors extroverts. Additionally, one of the most inspiring Ted Talks I ever watched was by Brene Brown called The Power of Vulnerability. I’m a big fan of Brene! She’s a classic introvert, and I admire how she embraces her authenticity to awaken her introverted tendencies.
- Jenny Holden Founder, Oleema Skincare
I call myself a “social introvert,” which means that I enjoy having meaningful conversations and encounters, love being with and even feel invigorated around new people, but can sometimes feel overwhelmed by a sense of shyness. This can be difficult in business, especially when launching a new business where success is partially based on interacting and connecting constantly with many new people.
What I found has been most helpful in overcoming my shyness is actually confronting it head on. I try to participate in festivals and fairs where inevitably I meet hundreds of new people throughout the day. That gives me the opportunity to interact and engage constantly with little time to give into the fear I may be feeling.
- Nancy Rimbergas Co-Founder, Earth Based Body
The thought of walking into a room full of people there to network is terrifying. It’s all about baby steps and small doses for me. My first step is giving myself permission to stay only as long as I’m comfortable. When I just show up, it’s almost always a positive outcome.
If I have the time, I’ll even preview some other event attendees and reach out or comment through social media so a basic connection is made. I’ve also snagged some great tips from the book "Build Your Dream Network" by Kelly Hoey, who really breaks down simple steps to improve your digital presence.
- Thomas Neuberger Co-Owner and Director of Sales and Operations, P.F. Candle Co.
I'm a pretty introverted person, so I probably don't network the way I should. As the company grows and my stress level increases, I have taken to mindfulness to get past situations that are out of my comfort zone. As a human being, your mind wanders, and you focus a lot on the past and future when, in reality, it is only the present that matters. If you can focus on something like your breath, you can help ease the distracting thoughts that keep you uncomfortable. I've been using the Calm app.
I am also pretty goal-oriented, so if being uncomfortable is what it takes to get to my goal, I will push myself through it. I've had to pitch to pretty big accounts, and I am nothing but a ball of stress. I think about how the situation is limited and that when it is done, I can go back to normal, and that helps me out a lot.
- Jamie Steenbakkers Co-Founder and COO, Busy Beauty
When I first started going to conferences and competitions, my favorite technique to ease into the networking was to find someone who was by themselves and, then, go up and introduce myself. As I got more used to doing this, I worked up to being able to walk up to groups of people to introduce myself.
My other piece of advice is to have at least one person you know also at the event. That way, you can introduce each other to new people and have someone to chat with during lull times. Lastly, I would also advise looking up any speakers before the event, so you have talking points with other attendees and can feel comfortable also approaching the speakers themselves.
- Mary Ware Founder, Minimo Skin Essentials
I am 100% an introvert. I’m very comfortable working alone and behind the scenes. Because most of our business is through e-commerce, it makes it very easy to stay out of the public eye. A book that helped me come out of my shell and really grow my brand was "How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling" by Frank Bettger. I recommend it to anyone interested sales, public relations or marketing.
Bettger’s book taught me that, in order to overcome my introvert nature when necessary, I need to shift the focus from myself and what makes me feel cozy in my comfort zone to listening to the life experiences of others. The very nature of networking involves finding a common ground and building a mutually beneficial relationship. I ask questions and look for details that I can relate or connect to when networking, and I genuinely look for ways to get to know who someone is below the surface.
- Ranay Orton Owner, Glow by Daye
Perfect question as I am a classic introvert! Since networking and socializing expends energy, I always have to plan out that expenditure almost like a workout. I tell myself, "Show up and truly engage in this activity and, then, you can reward yourself by relaxing at home by yourself and with your family all day Sunday," but really be 100% all in delivering value and showing up either at this event or doing a certain networking activity.
I usually feel so good afterward, but it's about gearing yourself up to do it which can be the hardest part. Also, when networking in-person, personally, I feel best to engage and truly connect with others when I look good, so I try to first make sure I do everything that makes me feel my best on the outside so I can deliver the best of what I have to offer to others on the inside. That way I don't have to worry about that part and more so focus on connection.
- Tina Rudolf Founder, Strange Bird
I was an actress for 10 years, and have been a clinician and life coach for the last 10 years, so people are often surprised when I describe myself as an introvert especially since I'm quite outgoing. But I think there's a difference between being outgoing and being an extrovert or introvert.
As someone who is outgoing, it's easy for me to talk to people about almost anything. But, as an introvert, being around a lot of people and having to be outgoing for too long drains me and often feels forced. I've learned the hard way (anxiety attacks, burnout, overwhelm) that I really need to listen to my body, connect with how I'm feeling and not try to be someone I'm not. Instead of seeing it as networking, I try to see it as building authentic relationships. Relationships are sacred and, so, I'm not going to try to form relationships with everyone.
This philosophy aligns with how I'm building my brand as well. Strange Bird is not for everyone. If our mission resonates with you, if the brand resonates and the products, then it's for you. But if not, then it's not for you. I try to take that approach into my interactions with people.
I understand that I might not click with everyone, that not everyone will be interested in me and or what I'm up to. So, I don't force it. I think that our intuition naturally tells us when to move ahead, connect, network, share, and when not to. We just need to quiet ourselves enough to listen, love ourselves enough to follow that intuition, and believe in ourselves enough that it will all work out.
- Celine Terry Co-Founder, Lipstuk
Being an introvert myself, I find that having my best friend as my business partner, who is an extrovert, to be very helpful and encouraging. I always notice how she says what she thinks or how she feels with a lot of confidence. I tend to be more reserved, but having this new business with Katey has forced me to be more open.
I usually tell myself, "If she can do this, so can I." There is no reason why I can't. So, I try. There are a lot of times that I have to really convince myself to be more social and friendly, especially if we are networking or even selling. I also get lots of encouragement from other women who own their business and also have a family to take care of. I follow many mompreneurs on Instagram, including friends I know, and it is very inspiring and motivating.
What really motivates me is our product. We created this together. We saw it come to life together and we love everything about our beauty tool and what it does. We believe in it so much and those are the reasons that really keep us going, to work hard and step out of our comfort zones. We all have flaws and weaknesses. I think it is so important to look to others in similar situations for encouragement and ask for advice. You'd be surprised and relieved to find out that most likely they have also been there.
- Amber Fawson Co-Founder, Saalt
I claim the label of introvert 101%! But I find that being an introvert does not get in the way of networking. I’ve learned to co-schedule alone time with networking events. I’ve also learned to focus on how much I genuinely love people and love hearing a person unfold their life story.
When I attend a networking event, I see myself approaching the event in the same way I approach going to an art museum alone. Every person is a work of art and is so enjoyable to speak with and experience. It really is like standing in front of a masterpiece.
Beyond that, I love looking at networking as one more project I can approach with quality as the goal. For me, it feels good to maintain relationships just like I maintain an organized closet. I get satisfaction from that. It may mean I have slightly fewer relationships than my awesome extroverted team members, but it works for me.
- Ilsa Manning Founder and Fragrance Designer, Ilsa Fragrances
It is hard networking as an introvert. I am a mom with two littles and do not have the time to read or attend groups to help me out, so I've sought advice online (thank you, Google!) as well as just pushing myself to get out there.
Some techniques I use are, number one, practicing my elevator pitch beforehand and the three main points I want to share about myself, the company, and the product. Number two,, making sure I have a business card and product sample on hand to give. That is usually an easy way to start a conversation.
- Samantha Lim Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, HipDot
Being an introvert is such a wonderful thing, especially when you can communicate so much from behind the quiet safety of your phone. However, it is not how meeting new people gets done. My favorite trick in striking up conversation is finding something small to compliment someone on. If you like their jacket or shoes or they have a nice smile, point it out and start up a small chat. Before that topic drags on for too long, introduce yourself and go from there.
Also, don't be afraid to politely end a conversation if things are getting awkward or if you aren't clicking with that person. Trust me, they feel it too and won't mind if you say it was great to meet them and move on to the next.
- Shayda Torabi Co-Founder, Restart CBD
I always say, your network is your net worth. Many incredible business opportunities have come through the power of who I am connected to. It's why I push myself to attend networking related events for my business at least once a week. It may sound like a lot, but 100% of those events have directly influenced a positive impact for my business. So, I always prioritize meeting new people and trying to just advocate and represent my brand when I have those opportunities the best I can do.
It may sound trivial, but a personal must-have in my bag at all times is a handful of business cards as well as at least a bottle or two of my product. I can't begin to recall the numerous times I've been able to further cement a networking relationship by being able to have a way for someone to physically see my product and have a meaningful way to connect with me online.
- Jeannie Jarnot Founder, Beauty Heroes
I’m an introvert, but I’m also really motivated to show up to events. One of my techniques is to show up with intention, but not with expectation. I almost always get let down when I buy too much into expectation.
I try to prepare for events and know who will be there in advance, maybe even visualize a connection I want to make in advance. I make sure I do whatever I need to do to feel confident in my appearance and physically comfortable. And, then, I just show up and be myself. If you’re motivated, you’ll get over the resistance.
- KARA SOULE Co-Founder, Verdant
There’s a saying, “Do something you love, and you won’t work a day in your life.” While I’m not sure that’s entirely true (starting a business I love has been a lot of hard work), I would say that building something I love and really believe in impacts everything for the better, including networking.
As an introvert and self-described "homebody" networking hasn’t always been my favorite undertaking. When it comes to Verdant, though, I’ve surprisingly found few things more rewarding and energizing than sharing our story and connecting with others who are similarly pursuing their passions and seeing their dreams realized.
- Rochelle Jacobs Managing Director, Naturally Serious
The networking tips I would offer to someone who was a bit timid would be to redefine your approach and speak to people in intimate settings. Speaking to smaller audiences will help prepare you to speak to an even bigger one.
I would also suggest focusing on creating a memorable experience for your audience, simply by explaining why you have created the brand you so strongly represent. For me, it was all about creating a cleanly-made, ethically-developed and clinically-tested brand, and building it out to be the cleanest brand on the market. Telling your own unique story will help set you apart from other people within the industry and make people remember you.
- Andrea Lisbona Founder and CEO, Touchland
While I am not very introverted, networking can be tough. You have to just share your authentic story and focus on making a connection. It’s important to listen and to be kind. I would caution against being too aggressive with your networking. It always makes me so uncomfortable when people are too pushy in a networking situation.
- Erika Wasser Founder and CEO, Glam+Go
Non-verbal communication (aka, body language) is 75% of communication. So, stand up straight and smile. Someone will come talk to you.
- Karen Wince Author, Speaker and Coach, Dr. Karen Wince
After failing to launch thousands of campaigns due to fear and paralysis by analysis, I finally let go and remembered to just be a person. I had to remember I am a beautifully flawed human being just like everyone else and at the end of the day we all want to be heard and understood. When I started to approach people as my authentic self and started to share all of my story, not just the parts that look good, I began to resonate and attract more people.
You see, the two biggest fears most people have in life is the fear of abandonment and the fear of rejection. When you are an introvert, the later fear dictates a lot of your behaviors, which makes marketing as an entrepreneur very challenging. The biggest shift you can make in your marketing strategies as an introvert is to stop focusing on yourself and your fears and focus on how many people your story, product or service will impact and serve. When you can mentally operate from a place of servitude and know that someone out there is depending on you to make their lives better, then the fear of putting yourself out there fades away.
- Ellen Rucker Co-Founder, Rucker Roots
If you are an introvert, make sure you have a strong team around you. Whether it's your business partner or family and friends that are passionate about your brand, having someone in your corner is huge.
A lot of times, hearing how great your brand is from others, not just the owner, makes all the difference with a potential buyer. Stay well prepared in knowing your craft and what your competitors may be providing. Learn to focus on the positives of your brand and feel confident in those things that set you apart.
First of all, what you sell must come from you: your heart and passion. I sell butt masks and butt beauty. I absolutely love it and I feel extra comfortable talking about the physical importance of your butt as a muscle, and beautification of its skin. Whatever you sell you must feel comfortable selling it, talking about it and knowing it well!
Networking is the key to learning, priceless experience and great way to communicate your message. If you are introvert, try to work on being a people person, share your feelings, go to events, meet people.
The more people you meet the more comfortable you become around others, and you learn to have a voice and opinion. It is hard even for extroverts to network. It takes time and effort, but based on my experience, networking with the right group of people makes a significant impact on your business. Attend as many event as possible, small and large, and talk!
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