Much to a lot of people’s surprise, I know quite a few introverts who don’t mind (and some actually enjoy!) public speaking. I would much prefer to do that than say going to a networking event – mainly because I can prepare beforehand.
Kele Belton is an unusual introvert who has intentionally focussed on developing her skills in speaking and networking since being at school. She now supports other introvert business owners to leverage speaking and networking to grow their business and communicate their message. As someone who knows how powerful networking is and yet at the same time is still terrified by it, I knew I had to talk to Kele!
Why did you decide to start your own business:
I decided to start my business when my corporate training job was restructured due to Covid. Before the reorganization, I was managing a team of trainers and I was so excited for the future until my dream job was taken away from me overnight. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to dream even bigger and to do something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts to go all in. I’m so grateful I did! I’m working with some incredible clients.
What is the number one thing you have done in your business so that it works with your introversion rather than against it?
I’ve created a schedule where I don’t constantly have back to back meetings or coaching sessions to manage my energy and show up fully present for each client. Friday’s are my creative days where I focus on continuous education, content creation, designing new products or revisiting my business goals instead of meeting with clients or doing any admin.
What introvert super power do you think has particularly helped you build your business?
I focus on meeting people where they are and building lasting relationships. I want clients to leave a conversation, coaching session or workshop feeling that they’ve been heard and they received feedback that is actionable and is truly tailored to their specific needs. So often we get training or coaching that seems to be a one-size-fits-all and that’s so hard to take on as an introvert.
What has been your biggest challenge being an introvert in business?
My biggest challenge has been to create boundaries and say no to clients who want a quick turnaround on coaching or training projects. I’m learning everyday to protect my personal and family time otherwise I could easily find myself working 7 days a week.
What does a normal (or ideal) work week look like and have you been intentional in this set up to support your introversion and need for quiet?
I typically work Mondays-Fridays but I only see coaching clients on Tuesdays-Thursday and Fridays are reserved for strictly creative work. Unfortunately it does happen that I have to work on the occasional weekend, but I’m trying to be mindful of making time for self-care and family time.
Are there any systems you have put in place that have been crucial to managing your energy?
Hiring a virtual assistant and a social media agency has been incredibly helpful and freed me up to really focus on what I can do well. I try to automate as many tasks as possible such as my weekly newsletter to my email subscribers, my website design and edits are outsourced so that I don’t have to be concerned with any tech-related tasks.
Are there any other introvert businesses that inspire you that people should check out?
One part of your services is helping new entrepreneurs and small businesses to find their voices and tell their story. What are your top tips for those looking to find their voices and tell their story? Why do you love helping people to do this?
My favorite part of my work is to guide new entrepreneurs to find their unique communication style and tell their business story in an authentic and credible way. When we realize that we have the potential to inspire and change other’s lives with our message, we lean into standing up and speaking with more confidence.
Speaking and telling our stories is not about us. It’s about serving our audience, inspiring and guiding them to get what they need and want. In turn, that helps us to sell our products and services.
I believe we all have a voice; we don’t need to find it. What new entrepreneurs and small business owners need help with is learning to tell their story in a way that feels authentic and enables them to quickly connect with their ideal audience.
My top tips for using your voice and telling your story authentically is being clear on (1) who your audience is and what they care about, (2) what the big idea of your story is and (3) what you want your audience to do after listening to your message. Once you’ve created a message that will resonate with your audience, practice it in front of a mirror, with a trusted friend or even better, record your practice and watch it back to see what you did well and what you can continue working on. Your story can include why and how you help people, how people can enlist your help and what they can expect from you.
If I was going to a networking event tomorrow, what would you suggest I do to get ready to make the most of the opportunity?
The first thing I would say is that there is no “one way” of networking, so it’s important to make it your own. Decide how long you’ll be staying at the networking event. Having that exit ready makes it a less stressful situation because now you’re in control. Secondly, know how to introduce yourself briefly and prepare 3-5 questions to help you ask others about themselves. Lastly, know how to end a conversation gracefully so you’re not stuck where you don’t want to be.
Public speaking and networking are such a scary thing to so many of us introverts yet you have chosen to focus on developing your skills since high school and now help others to be good at it as well. What inspired you to work in this area when it isn’t something introverts are typically keen to explore (at least until they see how much it can help their business)?
I love this question! I have struggled so much with public speaking, especially in my younger years. I realized that I could work as hard or as much as I wanted, but if I wasn’t willing or able to speak up and share my ideas, promote myself or raise my hand to lead projects, I would never truly achieve the success I want and know that I was capable of. We all have so much to offer the world, but as introverts we’re so often taught and pushed to do it in a way that doesn’t feel good or natural to us. With my coaching and training, I show introverts that they can make public speaking their own. So many of my clients are surprised when I mention that some of the most well-known people (Adele, Susan Cain and Sir Richard Branson to name a few) are introverts who weren’t always comfortable with public speaking.
Where you can find out more about Kele:
Would you like to create an introvert friendly business? Click here to take the quiz to get started.
Pin to read later: