The Introvert’s Superpower
If you hadn’t noticed… I’m an introvert.
Introverts are not exactly known for their gift of the gab. Sure, we can hold a conversation when it’s an intimate tête-à-tête: a one to one with a friend or someone we feel comfortable with.
But put us in a room full of people and ask us to butt into a lively conversation between a gaggle of more extroverted people? That’s not exactly our zone of genius.
We feel put on the spot. For many of us, our minds go completely blank when more than one set of eyes is fixed on us.
We need time to gather our thoughts. Our best thinking is done first silently, in our heads, before we can compile our thoughts and express them through speech.
That’s why, on the whole, we prefer to express ourselves in written form.
It gives us time to get our true thoughts out.
When I left my design agency job in 2013 to go freelance, I knew I’d have to do my fair bit of cold calling and network event shmoozing to start to grow my measly rota of clients.
However, I soon worked out that my options were far more narrow than I hoped.
When I went to networking events, my introverted nature meant I spent the first hour hovering awkwardly by the drinks and snack table.
Then, by the time I started chatting to someone, I’d forget to talk about myself: I naturally feel more comfortable turning the conversation to the other person – advice many of us hear and wisely use.
Great for getting people to like us… less good for showcasing our own skills and offerings.
Then, after just 2 hours I’d feel so drained by the whole experience, I’d leave early and sneak off to get home and dive into my pj’s.
So networking events were not working for me.
Next, I tried phone calls.
Again, my introverted nature meant I was inclined to freezing when I got on the phone.
I’d spend a good hour preparing what I was going to say and how I’d say it… I’d do some relaxing breathing exercises and pump myself up with feel good power phrases from the likes of Tony Robbins… even if they made me feel like a clown.
Possibly even more uncomfortable than the phone call I had to make…
Anyway, once I was on a call: I’d clam up.
I’d forget everything I was going to say, and basically apologise for bothering the poor and very busy creative directors I was trying to help.
So. Phone calls were swiftly abandoned.
I was left with email.
It made perfect sense.
It allowed me to express myself in my favourite medium: the written word – and take my time crafting exactly what I wanted to say.
I could choose when I wanted to reply: and I could do it all from the comfort of my home office. Well, my bed.
But when I hit send on that first batch of 50 odd emails to various agencies and creatives I admired… I didn’t have the kind of response I was hoping.
I was going about it all wrong.
For one, I didn’t know much about who I was emailing. I just knew they were a well respected agency who had a lot of followers on Twitter, and were based in London. Of course I could help them!
I’d use a generic template to send out to pretty much all of them, and feel quite smug about how much time I’d save.
Then there was the time I made a typo in a freshly updated template, in which I reassured the recipient I was available at fairly short notice.
I sent it out, I think to a dozen or so agencies that day. The following day, I was confused I didn’t receive even one reply.
It was so good! I’d even personalised the company names this time!
One reply popped up in my inbox.
1 out of 12 isn’t too bad…
But all it read was: Lol.
Lol? Laughing out loud at what?
I replied politely, holding my temper and enquiring what was funny about my email.
This time the recipient highlighted my typo:
Thank you auto correct (I’d written it on my tablet) and failed to pick up on the – now blatant – typo.
Understandably, the agency values attention to detail in their freelancers, something I couldn’t offer.
At least he had a sense of humour…
It wasn’t until l got a system in place that I started to actually get the replies I was after.
After a lot more trial and error, I found myself getting replies from people I thought would never read my email, let alone reply so warmly.
“Now that’s the way to make a guys weekend! Thank you so much for taking the time to write.”
“Cat — I kind of adore you and think we might have a story. That story might start with the fact that you sent an email that was very real/connected/direct as a creative thinker.”
“Messages like yours are fuel for inspiration and to keep going! Much appreciated!”
“(Oh and just so you know, your email was very well constructed — and you weren’t just like “I should be a guest on your show, I’m a best selling author and I can talk for hours about business marketing and other stuff your podcast isn’t about!”)”
Janet Murray of the Soulful PR podcast even read out a bit of the email I had sent pitching myself as a guest on her podcast – high praise from an experienced Guardian journalist!
After these little wins that were becoming increasingly frequent, I wondered what it was that made my emails stand out and get the answers I wanted.
It was then I started seeing patterns.
There were certain things I was doing that were making the recipients feel like there was a human at the other end of the – email server – and one who was actually interested in them.
By this time, I knew what a bad pitch was: from my years of blogging about health and wellbeing I had attracted my own steady stream of PR companies and their product pitches.
It always shocked me how little effort had been made on their part to write to me like I’m a human. Like they read my blog – at least enough to work out that just because I called it ‘Cat Food Is Food For You’ didn’t mean I wrote about actual cat food: or dog food for that matter.
It was through analysing the good emails – the ones that got me reading, replying and happily reviewing – that I figured out what worked and (from analysing the bad ones, that went straight to the trashcan) what didn’t.
Email really is what has brought me 90% of the results in my business – and honestly, it only takes up about 10% of my time.
It’s a skill like any other, and it does take practise. It isn’t always easy and I can think of a lot of activities that are more fun.
If you start now, it can be your superpower.
Especially if you are an introvert or just someone who’d rather be in the comfort of their home or cosy coffee shop – not another networking event that can frankly be a waste of your time.
I know there are so many of us like that.
That’s why I put everything I knew: my system, my formula, my time saving tools and tactics into The Email Answer.
It’s for freelancers who want to work for their dream client.
It’s for entrepreneurs who want to get press coverage for their product or service.
It’s for bloggers who want to write for prestigious online publications.
It’s for creative introverts who never want to go to another time-wasting and energy draining event.
I’ve used the Email Answer to…
- Get interviewed on dozens of podcasts reaching tens of thousands of listeners – many of which have become clients and customers
- Connect with and collaborate with the experts in my field, as well as mentors and – above all – actual friends
- Stop spinning my wheels and wondering why this social media stuff isn’t working like I was led to believe
- Save hours of time writing cold pitches that land on deaf
It’s an online program in which I’ve pulled all my email pitchin’ practise together into one little package. It’s laid out in a process you can replicate, modify and use time and time again to start seeing the replies you’re looking for.
I’ll be available via email for feedback and support throughout the program, and you’ll have access to the trainings (delivered by video with audio back-ups) FOREVER.