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Networking.

If you're an introvert, the very thought of it might strike fear into your heart.

It's hard to gather the energy to meet strangers at events and attempt to create rapport, so they can like you enough to want to hear how your business can assist them.

Today's guest is an introvert and has been where you are, but she cracked the code on how to overcome her struggles to achieve success.

Her name is Beth Buelow and she is a trusted speaker, published author and host of The Introvert Entrepreneur podcast.

During this episode, you'll learn...

  • How to let go of your negative inner stories around why you don't like networking

  • The importance of seeing networking as having meaningful conversations with people and not feeling like you have to push your business onto them

  • Why listening is an introvert's greatest superpower especially when it comes to networking and sales

To find out more about Beth, visit here.

To buy her book,  click here.


EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

Michael Palmer: 00:50 Welcome back to another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer. Today our guest serves as a guide to introverted entrepreneurs who want to amplify their strengths and build sustainable, energetically aligned businesses. She is a professional coach, author, podcaster, and speaker, and she is based in the Pacific northwest and serves introverts worldwide. She is also the author of the introvert entrepreneur. Amplify your strengths and create success on your own terms. Welcome to the podcast. Beth. 

Beth Buelow: 01:27 Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here. 

MP: 01:30 Yes. And now I have to ask, because I actually said welcome to the podcast, Beth, but I want you to pronounce your last name so I don't.. 

BB: 01:38 it's so funny as you were reading that I thought, oh, oops, I don't think I clarified my last name. Pronunciation. Yeah, it's below 

MP: 01:45 the low. So, and any spelling of that just so we have the spelling for everyone. It's back below. It's B, U e L, o. W. That is right. And if you type, if you type that into Google, you're going to find Beth's website and all the information on her. And of course we'll have all the information about that on our show notes. But I just wanted to make sure we got that. So it's below and we're good. So let's move on. Yeah. So Beth, you know I wanted you on the podcast because I saw your website and I thought first off, great website, got lots of great content there and information and it really looks great. And, and as well, I think when I'm working with bookkeepers, a lot of the times we're talking about sales and, and marketing their business. And they think that salespeople and marketers and people need to be gregarious people out there, you know, working the room and all that. 

MP: 02:34 And I tell them that's not, that's not the way you need to be in. I think you're probably someone that can bring a lot of information and inspiration and confidence to bookkeepers to actually just be whoever they are because let's face it, if you're working on with numbers and working on books and finances and stuff like that, you probably have a little bit of an introverted side. And so I would, I would assert that a lot of bookkeepers are introverted. Not all of them, but uh, probably would have a long, a lot of introverted types like that. So this is going to be great for our show today. Great. Give us a little background on you and how you got working with introverted entrepreneurs. 

BB: 03:13 No, I'm an introvert myself, which helps in the job qualifications and I'm, I've had a long time interest in personality types and particularly this introvert- extroverts dichotomy and dirty from back in 2008 like a lot of small business owners. I, I knew that I needed to really be clear about my target market. Right. You know, we can't just scatter our message out to the wind, especially for introverts because we need to be able to focus our energy on, on a market and on people that we feel that we can truly connect with and serve and that we have a solution for. And it wasn't parents. Immediately as I started my coaching, I thought I was going to be doing like nonprofit leadership work and you know, going down a different path and over time as I just kind of paid attention to who was showing up and who my message seemed to be resonating with. 

BB: 04:09 It was introverts. And you know, it took me about six months after I even realized that's who was showing up, that that was who I was meant to serve. So it was a little bit of a, an unfolding discovery. Yes. But I realized that so much of the information that's out there, and as you pointed out, Michael, you know that especially around sales, there's so much messaging about how you should, you know, quote unquote should be in terms of being Gary as an outgoing and and all of the networking that you have to do and putting yourself out there. It's all coming out at least it used to all be coming from an extroverted point of view and so there was this real need, both from what I saw in terms of the and so were coming to me as well as in the marketplace for another message that said, hey, you know, you can be successful. 

BB: 05:06 You can be wildly successful as an introvert in sales and networking and marketing and being an entrepreneur and a small business owner and you can do it without compromising who you are. In fact, if you compromise who you are, then that's almost a formula for not succeeding because as you and I were chatting before we went live, authenticity is something that is extraordinarily important and it's hard to be authentic if you're an introvert. Trying to be a pretend extrovert. So that's kind of how I found the message and the voice and the, and the folks that I, that I work with. It happened kind of organically, but I think it unfolded out of just really listening to what was going on in the marketplace and who was showing up at my door. 

MP: 05:55 I like that your, you identify as, as that, which I think will really help you serve that, that marketplace. So, so our listeners are definitely on the edge of their seat right now listening. Let's, let's get into how you see the first challenges appear for the people you work with and then we'll start to look at perhaps how to, how to work with your strengths, uh, as a person, even though you are an introverted person. 

BB: 06:24 Yeah. It seems when people show up first and especially when they first are starting their business, that the biggest challenge for introverts often, and I won't say that extroverts don't experience this as well, I think there are lots of things that both introverts and extroverts experience in business that might be shared, but the way they respond to them is different and perhaps the solutions that they seek out and find are successful are going to be different. So I just share that to, to keep that in mind for, for somebody listening who says, well, I'm an extrovert and I feel that too. You know, that happens to me too. The difference sometimes comes in, like I said, how we, how we respond to it, how we relate to whatever that challenge is. And one of the challenges a lot of introverted clients come to me with in the beginning is precisely what I was talking about in finding my own niche, which was finding a way to focus. 

BB: 07:15 They're often drawn to entrepreneurship or being a small business owner because of maybe a traditional work environment or a corporate work environment that didn't honor who they were, that sort of tied their hands behind their back a little bit in terms of personality, um, possibilities. And so, so they, they come to this opportunity with this big open, wide blank slate and there are so many options and they have so many interests and they, they want to, you know, make sure that they are focusing their energy in the best way possible because they're introverts. They recognize that their energy is their most precious resource. It's, it's their greatest asset. And they know that if they do, again, all the quote unquote should, that they're going to be spreading themselves too thin. And so it's imperative that they find that that way to focus their energy that's going to create the most success. 

BB: 08:14 So that's one of the first things, things that often comes up is how do I, who I serve, what my message is, um, how am I showing up in such a way that's not going to exhaust me? And then it, you know, sort of branches out from there. From that core of just figuring out, you know, how am I showing up and who am I showing up too? Then it's, you know, what kinds of networking am I going to do that I can make sure that I'm reaching out to the people that I need while still being authentic? How can I market myself and show up on social media? How do I choose what platforms I'm going to be on? All of those things kind of, sometimes we can jump to those first because those external bright, shiny object kinds of things that are sort of the obvious parts of being an entrepreneur. But really at the core of it and where we really need to start is getting that clarity on who you are, what your solution is, and who your solution is for. And then it grows from there. 

MP: 09:23 Okay, so let's, let's look at a few because essentially in my mind, and I am, I'm more from the standpoint coming at things from a kind of client acquisition. So bookkeepers, you know, they're great doing their work and we could talk about how they can become more efficient at their work. But let's, let's steer this towards client acquisition because as an introvert, we're gonna make the assumption that, you know, one of the things I like to do is work by themselves and work alone. Now I know there's a lot of, you know, we could even probably get into a conversation of really what is an introvert, and actually maybe we should talk a little bit about that too because some people might call themselves introverts when they're there. A little bit of both. So maybe speak to that first and then we'll get to this client acquisition and how we can use our strengths as a person to actually, like you started to talk about as a in different various and where you've maybe seen some of the people you've worked with have some success, but let's talk about that introvert versus extrovert. 

BB: 10:26 Yeah, definitely. And really that is the core to start with is understanding what it means to be an introvert. And lots of people think it's about your social skills or how you're showing up or your, your, I even like to say, I don't like to think of it as a personality trait because that's talking about it as a very external kind of thing. It's like the manifestation of what's really internal and that's has to do with your energy. So I think of it as an introvert will gain energy through solitude and lower stimulation environments, quiet, working alone and you know, being able to work with ideas and whatnot and they'll drain energy during Social Interaction Inc networking or you know, going out and prospecting or going to large events. Those situations we can do. We absolutely, you know, can be very good at those situations. It's just that instead of it feeding us energetically, it takes energy from us. And that's why we have to recharge our batteries by ourselves in quiet in that solitude and an extrovert. And I don't like to think of them as opposites, but you know, for simplicity sake of explaining this, let's, let's think of it as the opposite, which is an extrovert. We'll gain energy in those social environments and in those higher stimulation activities and they'll drain energy if they're left kind of to their own devices too long without any external stimulation coming their way. 

MP: 11:57 Very interesting. I mean I've for a long time, I thought I was an extrovert because you know, I can be gregarious, I can be outgoing and meet people and all those sorts of things at times. But I actually prefer to be at the side of the, of the, the room watching and observing. And I love my alone time. I love being alone, working on things. So I'm actually have a low, you know, that introverted side where I gain energy by being able to work through problems and do these sorts of things. And so, um, I think a lot of listeners will get something from this, is that this is the, it's this whole conversation of getting energy. So yeah, you want to store up the energy, doing the things that you feel best doing so that you can go spend that, some of that energy doing what you have to do. That's maybe a, you know, you can still do it, but it might be energy draining. Exactly. 

BB: 12:51 Exactly. And you can, you can do it. You can be great at it. People would be like thinking, oh, you know, she's really outgoing. And it's like, well yeah, I'm outgoing because for every one hour that I spend, you know, chatting up with people, I am spending three hours, you know, in the, in the background or on the sidelines or by myself. And that's what enables me to get out there and do that. And, and we all are on this spectrum and, and so even as an introvert, I have some extrovert energy in me. And that's what I, I, um, encourage my clients and I, I work on myself to being able to draw out in a really healthy and productive way, um, in order to accomplish our goals. 

MP: 13:33 Beautiful. And that's a great segue now to go into some of these things that maybe not are, are, are, are some of those energy, energy, ah, high cost areas, light networking. I'm going in and you know, calling people, setting up meetings to go and meet with them. Because bookkeepers, to really build a powerful, successful business, they do need to be known. They need to be known, and they have to have relationships outside of their current network to really expand. And so to do that is one powerful way as networking and other powerful ways to work with people who can refer business to you, like accountants or people in that work with, with entrepreneurs like yourself. So what, how do they build up that now we know they can be great at it. So what's your advice for them that need to go and do this type of work? 

BB: 14:27 First is to, um, uh, think of networking not as a necessary evil. It's, um, we can build up stories about networking and say, oh, I have to go do this. And it's, it's an activity that's separate and apart from the rest of my work. And so to examine those stories and say what, you know, what am I making up about networking that, that it's about sales and leaving with a handful of business cards and whatnot. You know, I think a lot of the, the literature around that has shifted fortunately to where it's more about making true connections with people going to an event and recognizing first off, everybody's there for the same purpose. I think sometimes we can forget that we think, oh, you know, I, I don't want to break into that conversation or I don't want to introduce myself or whatever. I don't want to bother anybody. 

BB: 15:16 And again, that's again, that's some, some of those stories or they don't want to hear about my business or you know, something like that that I don't want to come across as selling. Those were all some of those tapes that are going in our head. And so the first step is to, you know, kind of let go of some of those stories and to say, yeah, it's networking. But what it really is, is just, it's just meeting people. It's just making connections and having conversations. It's, it's really simple and for me as an introvert, successful networking event is if I go in and I talk to maybe two or three people and have meaningful conversations, make some sort of connection with at least one of those people, I feel like I'm going to follow up in some way and that follow up doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be about business right away. 

BB: 16:00 It might be, oh I, I shared with them, Oh have you read this book? I really, you know, I think you would really enjoy it based on what you've shared with me. You know, can I send you a link to it? Or Oh, I just read this article that I think you would find really interesting. Or Oh, I know somebody that you should meet. So coming away from that networking event, not with the fiscal of business cards and not feeling like, oh, I've got to prospect. It's more about, I just want to make some meaningful human connections with a couple of people and see where those go. And when you treat networking as an integrated activity as opposed to separate and apart from then you realize that you're kind of making those connections all the time, every day on different levels. And it might just be, you know, it might be your spouses or your partners colleague that you strike up a conversation with in the elevator, might be you're walking down the street and you happen to cross paths with someone you know, and you just stop and you chat for a minute. 

BB: 16:58 You know, to me networking is just keeping yourself and what you do top of mind. And you can do that through those sorts of informal conversations as well as going to actual formal designated networking events. And the more you practice it on that informal level, on that everyday, you know, chatting on the street or in the elevator, the more comfortable you're going to get doing it. When you go to the convention center, that's having a big, you know, networking event or whatever, the Chamber of Commerce, um, kind of thing. So you know, to, to, to see it just as it's, it's conversation, it's, it's keeping yourself and what you do top of mind and it's also reaching out, seeing how you can help other people and whether that's helping other people in a way that is exchanging value of money or if it's just exchanging value of information or resources or people. If you treat it as all part of the same package and activity and just integrated with what you do, then it becomes a lot easier and a lot less stressful. 

MP: 18:08 I agree with you completely. I know early on when I was probably in my early twenties I was in business and business school and everything was about Orient Network and build your network and back then it was like, yeah, I got to play golf. You know, there's these funny things that had these, I grew up in a small town and so it was like Yap, but you know, successful business people play golf. So was like, oh, I guess I gotta Play Golf. Right. And you got to network. And like, I don't like networking and I know I've just, just as we talked about before the he a podcast about being here, you know, interruptions and stuff. Can you hear Matthew in the background? My 18 month old with that is, I thought it was a chainsaw that sounded like a chainsaw at times. So for the listeners, I have an 18 month old baby boy, and he is uh, getting more and more vocal at lunchtime. 

MP: 18:58 And so just notice these up having lunch and it does at times sound like a chainsaw, so I apologize for that in the background. Um, so anyways, the, the point of the story about networking was someone said to me, it's like, just go and meet one person that you would wanna have a conversation with in the future if you meet, if you go to a networking event, just meet one real person that you actually connect with, that's all you need to do. And I'm like, wow, okay. Well it changed everything for me. When I go to an event, I just want to meet one person. Now what happens is I meet a lot more than that by actually I w I don't want to meet a bunch of people. I want to meet people that I like that maybe I would interact with. Maybe I would refer to other people, maybe that would end up working with me perhaps. And for me it changed it for my life. Now I'm not a person that works the room, I don't do that. That's not my style. And I don't think that would be the style of the, of most of the people that we work with that are bookkeepers. But for those that are, it's great. They do a great job of it. But think in terms of just that one, uh, connection for me really made a big difference. 

BB: 20:05 Yeah, absolutely. And there's a story I share in my book that talks about an early experience with networking that my husband really helped me with because at the time he was a nonprofit public relations director and he's also an introvert. And we had to go to this networking event that was after hours and it was kind of late. And I didn't know anybody in the room. And I was like, ah, I don't want to go. I don't want to go in and I don't know anybody. And he said, look, if you come in now you're going to, you know me and the next time we come to this you're gonna know two or three more people and then the next time you're going to know maybe four or five more. And then before you know it, you're going to know half the room. But in order to do that, you have to start and you have just show up and you have to trust that over time you will start to know more and more people and get comfortable with it because that's one of the biggest fears. 

BB: 20:54 And even extroverts will say this, I don't enjoy going into a room where I don't know anybody. And the point is the only way you're going to get to know anybody is to keep showing up and keep showing up in places where you feel like you, like you just said, you want to meet with people that you're going to enjoy talking with. And so if you start showing up places where you're, you continually walk out without having a satisfying conversation, then maybe those aren't the places to be showing up cause that's probably not your tribe. Pay attention to that and keep showing up those places where you do consistently say, yeah, I met a couple of Nice people there that was pretty cool and keep going there. 

MP: 21:36 I like that. I think that's really valuable with dice and it speaks to focus, right, is find a place where there are people that you think will be people you want to spend time with and and just consistently do that. I know business networking international are very popular and, and I have a, you know, my story about any kind of networking group is go and find people that are great people that are ambitious and do want to do things in their life and, and be successful at business. If you spend time with them, I mean light's going to go in a different direction. It's going to be successful direction to go in. However, they're not all built like that. So finding the right group. And what I think you're saying is go find a place where meeting and getting to know those people will be valuable. And then eventually it'll be very comfortable and it'll be your, your territory, your environment, which I think is fantastic and it's a lot of investment of time. And so you, that's the risk is if you spend time where you don't want to be, I mean you're, you're wasting your time and you're not going to see a return. 

BB: 22:38 Absolutely. And for introverts, I always think of it, you're wasting your energy. So it takes a lot of energy to get out there and do that. And often they'll say like the hardest thing is just getting out the door, it's hard to get out the door if you're not looking forward to at least the prospect of having that interesting conversation. 

MP: 22:57 Fantastic. And that's a great fight on, on at the energy. Quite frankly, that's, that's where the highest cost, I guess you would be, would be on their energy cause it's not natural for them to be there. And it's going to be an energy energy drainer. Right. This is great. Well this has been a great conversation. Let's talk a little bit about your recommendations or things that they can do, whether it's going to your site or maybe some ideas or actions that they can take to sort of further this conversation around you. Leveraging their strengths as a person. Might have some introverted, you know, slightly introverted people. 

BB: 23:33 Yeah. Well yeah, yeah. Thank you. Um, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that, you know, checking out my site and my podcast cause I have talked with a number of other folks who are, who are really good at sharing some insights about selling, marketing, and networking. And so I'm checking out my podcast and that website is Theintrovertentrepreneur.com. I'd want to recommend, you know, two other books though, um, and, and folks to follow. And that's Dan Pink. One of his more recent books is called To Sell Is Human. And in there, he actually dedicates a little bit of space to talking about the introvert extrovert dynamic when it comes to sales. And one quick takeaway I'll leave your listeners with around is that, what they found was when they tracked successful salespeople, it wasn't the ones who could talk the best. 

BB: 24:23 It was the ones who could listen the best who had the most success. And listening is often what I call an introvert superpower. We tend to be really good listeners. We like to listen more than we like to talk. And if you can really listen to your prospects, to your clients, to the people that you're networking with, you're going to make more meaningful connections. And it kind of takes the bird. I think part of the reason we love it is because it takes the burden off of us to come up with something to say on the spot. You know, we can kind of ask a few questions and then listen. And people like to be seen and heard. It's a real fundamental human need. So Dan Pink's book to sell is human shares, a little bit of data and research about that as well as lots of other great advice and information for the salesperson that uh, and, and he's coming, I think because he includes that you can trust that he's coming from that more kind of balanced sensibility. 

BB: 25:20 He's not going to say you've got to get out there and shout from the rooftops. It's going to be a slightly more nuanced perspective. And then another colleague that I like to refer people to is Nancy and Colette's who wrote a book called Self Promotion For Introverts. And the name says it all. It's acknowledging that self promotion is sometimes something that we feel a little challenged with. We're not always keen on tooting our own horn. And her book offers a lot of anecdotes and advice on how to do that self promotion without feeling gross. Um, so, so those are a couple of books I would recommend in addition to my own, where I spend a lot of time. My, my networking chapter is the longest one because it's that area that seems to have the most exed as well as the most potential for the introvert entrepreneur to really thrive. 

MP: 26:14 Okay. This is great. Well those are, those are some real valuable resources to go and pick up. And I think one thing I will say is your podcast, the introvert entrepreneur podcast. I've had a look on your website. You've been named 100 podcasts will make your smarter, better and wiser by Inc.com, a top 25 business podcasts for entrepreneurs on entrepreneur.com inspiring women's voices and what's hot business category, iTunes March, 2015. So this is a podcast that, uh, I think our community of successful bookkeepers definitely needs to have on their listening track. So do that. And then as well, you can go to Beth's website, Theintrovertentrepreneur.com we'll have all of those on our site, Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com of course. And that one about Dan pink. I want to say, you know what's interesting, I didn't mention it in the beginning, but one of the comment that I made about people thinking that they need to be the script, Gary is people. 

MP: 27:13 That was from Dan Pink. I met, I met Dan at a conference and was interviewing him and he said exactly that is that people think that salespeople are these big gorillas and patent people on the back and playing golf and smoking cigars and actually they're not the best salespeople. When he's looked at all these sales people all over the world. They're like, as you say, the people who actually ask questions and listen and they're very quiet people. If you look at the top performing salespeople in organization then interesting. Yeah, so I'm glad you brought up Dan and totally forgot that that was my reference where that reference was coming and if I can dig it up, I will put that for the listeners. I will put that at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com in the resources section. I, if I can find that interview with him, I will post that as well because I think it's fair. 

BB: 28:00 It would be very valuable and thank you Beth for bringing that out of my brain. Yeah, this has been great. Beth. I just really, uh, really love speaking with someone who's, you know, put their whole life around an area of thought leadership like this. It is just refreshing to be listening to some of your thoughts and your advice for our community. And uh, on behalf of all the listeners, I know that you do these things and as podcasters and all the work that you do in content that you do, you do it for virtually nothing for the most part in terms of the work that you need to put into it. So on behalf of all of us, thank you. We really do appreciate your time and being able to share some of your, your knowledge with us. 

BB: 28: 35 Oh, you're very welcome. And thank you Michael. I, it's been a great pleasure chatting with you. 

MP: 28:45 Yes. Until next time. Thanks everybody. That's another episode. Thank you for listening. If you'd like to learn more about our guests today, you can find everything in the show notes at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com please subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review. We'd really love to hear what you think, and if you have suggestions for future episodes, we'd love to hear that as well. 

MP: 29:07 Take care.