How To Boost Your Confidence
“It’s not about what you know, but who you know.”
We’ve all heard this before, especially in regards to doing business. Cliché or not, it’s the truth. Your ability to network is critical to success. If you are among the many who find this process uncomfortable, then you’re in luck, for I have some strategies to make networking a breeze.
For children, this is an important mantra, but avoiding strangers is the last thing business owners want to do. To grow your brand and reputation, you have to put yourself out there.
My first tip is to eliminate the word “stranger” from your vocabulary. Stranger has a negative connotation. Stranger implies danger, as that is what we were conditioned to understand in childhood.
Replace the word stranger with “client” or “friend”. Look at every new person you cross paths with as someone who could have a positive impact on your business. Sell yourself to that person in the same manner.
First impressions are crucial, so always put your best foot forward. What does that mean? Approach potential clients in the same manner you would appreciate being approached by someone you don’t know.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror!
I’m asking him to change his ways…(Sorry, couldn’t help myself there. It’s a very catchy tune!) My point: if conversation does not come naturally to you, practice your social skills in the mirror. It may seem silly at first, but if you can get over the awkwardness of talking to yourself, then it won’t be long before you’re networking with grace and ease! This exercise also helps make you aware of body language, which says more than mere words. Practice eye contact, smiling and using proper posture. All of this goes a long way not only in your work life but in your personal life as well!
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
You may feel alone in your introversion, but really, there is a good chance your clients, vendors and the like also struggle with networking. Like you, they try their best to hide it. Don’t be shy; take initiative so others can let their guard down around you. Sometimes it’s just a matter of who is willing to rip off the Band-Aid first, and you will find that by just going for it, people will appreciate the effort, relax and reciprocate, and both parties will find the experience more pleasurable than painful. The lesson here is that, even if you’re not feeling so confident, making the first move makes a big impact and gives much needed relief to others. The rest will follow naturally from there.
Taste the Rainbow
We are visual creatures. It may sound vain but it’s true. We make judgments in split seconds, as the eye is fickle. Make note of this fact! For example, if your wardrobe is lacking colour, I strongly suggest revising it. Adding colour can make you appear more fun and open (i.e. approachable!). If you prefer dressing head to toe in black, that’s fine, but try add a pop of colour in an accessory. After all, as florists, you are artists at heart. Let your appearance reflect that! It could be a simple scarf or a tie, some jewellery or even your shoes. Trust me: a little colour goes a long way in signalling that you’re not all doom and gloom. Makeup and a fresh haircut are also nice confidence boosters, so don’t be afraid to pamper yourself a little. If you look good, you feel good!
Head Up, Shoulders Back
I have always struggled with my posture. I have to make a conscious effort to stop slouching. In the age of text messaging, there are more people going to chiropractors for cell phone-related injuries than ever before. Standing up straight is important not just for appearing more confident, but for your health, as well.
If you’re like me, you may also feel a bit freaked out when someone makes direct eye contact with you. This makes me feel pressured to make direct eye contact back, but at the same time, I worry I will hold the gaze too long. It’s easy to overthink these things, which is why I return to my suggestion of practising in the mirror. Hold your own gaze for as long as you can stand it. Enjoy what you see! When you have a spare moment, practice backwards shoulder rolls to train your muscles. If you want to mimic the ultimate posture, find a ballet warmup video on YouTube. Have you seen ballerinas? They epitomize proper posture. Yoga will also give you these benefits, as well as relaxation. Focus on your core when you exercise. This group of muscles has been given its name for a reason. A strong core creates a strong body and prevents overcompensating in areas not meant to do something.
Meditation is a powerful thing. Our minds can take us anywhere. Close your eyes and visualize yourself having conversations with random characters. Laugh and smile. Imagine effortless conversation. You’re the life of the party! Everyone wants to talk to you and you say all the right things! The next thing you know, people are giving you their business cards, weddings orders double, and you get featured in Canadian Florist magazine! Take that visual wherever you want. Meditate daily and watch your visualizations start to unfold in real time. Mind over matter, as they say!
Remember, you started your business for the love of flowers. Always keep your mission top of mind because people love working with people who love what they do. Don’t lose your passion to the stresses of everyday life. Ooze positive energy in everything that you do big or small and watch your business bloom! (Pun intended.)