I’m so excited to welcome Gemma Stow to today’s show.. because you’ll hear me in full #fangirl mode!
Gemma helps female introvert leaders to have more impact and presence by increasing their confidence around self-promotion. I thought this was super topical for the show because many people who are working remotely are doing so in isolation… and generally that’s great because we thrive in that environment. In fact, it might be interesting to run some survey on how many remote workers recognise themselves as an introvert. Something to think about…
When running a business, it’s so important to promote ourselves in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re boasting or being salesy. And, as an introvert, I can suffer from over-thinking and analysis paralysis – both of which can have incredibly negative consequences when running a business. Because if we don’t promote ourselves, who will?
Whether you’re male or female, I think you’re really going to enjoy Gemma’s insights into how introverts can thrive in a networking environment, how they can promote without feeling icky, and what she really thinks of the “fake it till you make it” idea.
More Gemma-tastic info:
Gemma’s mission “No More Hiding’, encourages women to be more visible and be the next version of themselves that their work demands. She is an ICF accredited coach and has studied NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that all forms part of her high level coaching / mentoring practice.
She is very passionate at working with people who are ready to unlock their potential they are hiding away or just don’t believe is there. As a former probation officer, a director of her first company working with young people with challenging behaviour and now empowering introvert business leaders to step up – she leads by example sharing her own journey of the ups and downs, failures and successes that have led her to where she is today.
Club Fierce: Networking for Introverts – the place to be for female introverts to gain confidence and practice networking online and at face to face events.
Creator of “Introverts Inspire” Podcast.
Nominated for “Business Women of the Year” by Yorkshire Choice Awards 2018
Winner of Network She Award 2015
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Today I am joined by the fantastic Gemma Stow. Gemma, thank you so, so much for joining me.
Thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here. It’s great.
One of the things you won’t notice we’ve not spoken about before is that you were on my wish list of guests a little while ago. So when I was thinking about this podcast, and I thought, “okay, who would be the ideal person to come on the podcast, who would I love to come on?” and your name was up there.
And then I do this daily intention journal. Every day was: I would love to have so-and-so on the show. The other day I was flicking through it, and it was the day that “I wish Gemma Stow would come on the show and talk about introverts”. And here you are! I think there’s a lot to be said for setting an intention and then following it through with the necessary action to make stuff happen. So thank you for ticking that off my wish list.
One of the reasons I wanted you to come on the show was that you do a lot of fantastic work all to do with introverts. And I know, as an introvert, that working from home is perfect for me because even though I’ve moved into an office now, we’re servicing clients on a remote basis. I don’t have to talk to a lot of people if I don’t want to, I can kind of sit there in my comfy zone. What advice do you have for introverted remote workers? Because I imagine there are a lot of pros and cons that come with that label.
Definitely, and I totally agree with you. I love working from home. If I can wear my pyjamas all day, it would be awesome. And not having to speak to people all the time. But then having those one to one calls with my clients is amazing. And the tech I can use like this – it’s amazing. I can reach so many people all over the country, all over the world if I want to from my home and that’s perfect for an introvert. I guess the thing that is the worry is that you end up not venturing out at all. And you get stuck behind your computer and you can maybe miss out on those real connections that you could make because we’re really good at that.
I talk about this a lot, and a lot of my clients are people who are introverts. So when we talk about networking, they go “ugh networking, I hate it”. But actually, we’re really good at connecting with people. That’s what we’re good at, on a one to one, deep level. And if we work from home, there’s that concern that actually we might be more alone and we miss out on opportunities because of that. So I guess getting out a little bit more, as well in different ways, that feel good to you.
I think that’s a really interesting point in terms of connection because it wasn’t until I started listening to your podcast that this really resonated with me. So for instance, when I first started out as a Virtual Assistant a few years ago, I did pay-as-you-go services and also retainer contracts as well. And I came to slowly realise I didn’t gain the same satisfaction out of pay-as-you-go work. I managed to boil it down to the fact that I couldn’t build a connection with the person I was supporting because it was so ad-hoc and infrequent. I guess it took me a long time to actually work out what that pain point was. And to realise that pay as you go work for me isn’t the right thing. I would now rather work with clients who I can support on a regular basis through an ongoing block booking and build that deep connection, so I completely get where you’re coming from there. Now, just on the point about leaving the house. Like you said, networking, it can be a big deal and it can be tricky to push yourself out of that comfort zone when it comes to networking and feeling introverted. What tips do you have for somebody who is going to a networking event when we recognise that we do want that connection and sometimes it can be a little bit superficial or salesy at networking?
That’s the biggest worry, that kind of uncomfortable awkwardness or the mingling small talk. That’s what we avoid it for, because we hate those things.
If you are going to an event, make sure it’s the right event.
Maybe do a bit of research around it, because so many people and myself included have been to events, and I’ve just had a really negative experience. It puts you off, it totally puts you off going to any more. And it doesn’t have to be like that. There’s so many different types of events.
I hold my own events now especially for introverts for that reason, because I know what people feel like when they go into it. They want structure. They don’t want mingling, they don’t want small talk. They want to just connect with people and not have to do this big introduction and put themselves into the spotlight straight away in a room full of strangers. That’s tough. And at my events, like you sit around the table, talk about your business strategy. And it works really well because everyone leaves knowing everyone else’s business and you’ve networked without realising it.
So definitely find the right event, there will be events that will work for you, they’ll be events that don’t work for you. And maybe see if you can find anyone else is going as well, that can always be good. But don’t have that pressure of having to walk into a room full of strangers and then having to jump right in. What I love to do, and it’s quite funny actually, I do it more now, is that I sit down on my own and get a drink and just scan the room. And not necessarily feel like I have to work the room because you hear that all the time. You work the room, you meet as many people as possible, get all the business cards. That’s not for me. I sit down on my own, scan the room, see who’s out there. Maybe I’ll recognise people, maybe I don’t. And actually it’s funny because it makes other people a bit more twitchy. And they tend to feel sorry for me a little bit, but actually, I’m totally comfortable doing that. And it’s funny, isn’t it?
Because these are the social aspects that have a negative thing on introverts. But people often come over to me anyway and introduce themselves just because I’m still on my own. So that works, too. And that’s cool. It’s just about you feeling good in your skin, there’s always the bathroom, you can always take a breather, if you need it.
Or just play on your phone for a little bit. I tend to do that. Like “yeah, I’m really busy”. But I’m avoiding any conversation by just being on my phone, it’s fine.
So that’s kind of pushing us outside of our comfort zones in terms of visibility at a networking event. Do you have any guidance for introverts who are needing to get more visible, maybe online, on social media? Because I know when I first started, and I don’t know if this is an introverted thing, or just because I’m really frickin’ private. But even changing my Facebook profile to my actual name rather than some fake name, felt like a big deal for me. It felt like I was letting a barrier down. And I felt very vulnerable for putting stuff out there and being me.
So I wondered, is that an introverted thing? And if anybody else is experiencing something similar, what kind of advice can you give? Because I think no one else is going to promote us if we don’t promote ourselves, but it’s kind of getting over that hurdle, isn’t it?
Definitely. And I can totally relate to that feeling. I remember having to put my face on my website. It totally freaked me out. I was like, “oh my god, what am I doing?”. But I think because all introverts are different, as we are individuals, but there is a theme of this being private and not wanting to share everything with the world and not feeling like you have to really, and I think there’s a lot of pressure to do that. When you hear all the noise that’s out there and being like everybody else, and that’s working for her. So I’m going to do loads of Facebook Lives, I’m going to do this. And actually, it’s about finding what works for you otherwise It’s just that kind of fake it till you make it and that just feels so off. It just doesn’t feel right. And then you end up telling yourself you can’t do it. And that’s not true either.
I think tips for visibility is it almost starts right at the ground level, the foundation level of owning your expertise. And knowing that that’s why you’re showing up. It’s not about you showing off.
It’s not about you sharing your whole life story with the world. It’s about showing up for that purpose and who you’re there to help. And I think that’s a really good way of building confidence on that level.
Absolutely. And I think a lot of us are going into business because we have that service based calling, we want to help others and particularly people who are from that VA background like I was. We want to be of service to people but we’re also kind of stuck in that fear because we’ve always been behind the scenes with the people that we’ve supported. So now to put ourselves front and centre of our business and our marketing strategy can feel very alien and uncomfortable.
I love what you said about the whole fake it till you make it and I can’t do that at all. It’s never sat right with me. And integrity is one of my core values. I do want to position myself as an expert in my field because I feel like I’ve earned it not because I feel like I’m faking it.
Just thinking about the teams that you’ve worked with in the past and the tech that you use, what tech do you rely on to run a successful business on a remote basis? Because you’ve mentioned that you’re working with clients up and down the country, potentially all around the world. So what tech is important to you as a business?
One of the main ones is Zoom, actually, and I do love it and any kind of way that you can communicate like this. It’s not quite the same as face to face. I’m a bit of a touchy feely person, and I think that’s just part of who I am. But actually, I can make really good connections. We were saying before that we feel like we know each other yet we’ve not met in person. And I think that is the beauty of online now and social media and able to reach more people. I also use an app called Voxer. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it,
I’ve not used it, but I hear it’s really popular.
I use that for my private one to one clients. So I can keep in touch with them in between sessions, because I find that’s when they need me the most. It’s like a walkie talkie app and I love it. It’s really great. I also have Libsyn, which is for my podcast. The kind of the tech behind that really put me off putting it out there because that’s just not my thing. And I think I’ve managed to outsource it, find someone else who could do it for me and working together with someone even though they’re not in the room with me. We don’t share an office but we can do everything online. It’s just amazing and to have that extra support has made such a difference.
In terms of communicating with your podcast editor. How do you do that? Is that mainly through Voxer? Do you have a project management system? Or what works for you both?
It’s really simple through Voxer, emails, we also use Google Drive mainly. We have all our spreadsheets and the strategy going forward and what’s going to happen when, so we can we can keep in touch with each other through that. She makes sure that I do what I need to do to make sure that those episodes get out there. So it’s great.
I like to keep things simple. I think that’s better for me. Because then I make it happen and if I overcomplicate things, then we get into the overthinking category of what introverts do a lot of and then things don’t happen. So keep it simple.
Do you find that’s an introverted problem? That analysis paralysis, a lot of procrastination going on?
I definitely do. I think that there might be extroverts out there that go through that overthinking but because we are natural thinkers and we like to reflect, we spend a lot of time In our heads. And all the internal stuff going on, I think it’s only natural that we will overthink things. So it’s about being aware of that, I think. Not letting that turn into overwhelm, and action being taken, but instead going, “okay, what’s going on? I need to pull it back” and getting those tools and strategies to be able to do that. So you can make faster decisions because I think when you’re working for yourself, you do need to make some fast boss decisions.
I agree completely. Tell me a little bit about the programmes that you’re running so that people can make those faster decisions and feel supported if they recognise that they may have introverted tendencies or recognise themselves as an introvert.
I have my amazing mastermind, which is called No More Hiding and that’s one of my biggest missions really, to help female introverted leaders to stop hiding and to step out of the shadows into the spotlight and own that for themselves. And I absolutely love doing that work. It’s amazing. What I found a lot of my clients using is this networking thing that say, “I want to meet more people. I want to widen my audience, I want to make real connections” because business is personal, isn’t it? And that suits us so much.
So I’ve created this space that’s called Club Fierce. It’s networking for introverts, and it’s online events, and it’s offline. It’s about building confidence, introducing yourself meeting people, and we’re all in the same boat so it feels really safe and supported. And then with the view that you can go off and do other events and feel comfortable and enjoy it. And that’s what it’s all about.
I can tell you love it. And that’s fantastic. It feels like you found a real calling for what you’re doing and who your target audiences is which is great. It’s showing in your face if you’re watching this on video, and hopefully it’s coming through on your voice as well for audio.
Gemma, thank you so, so much for joining me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And thank you for the advice that you’ve given to today’s listeners as well.
You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
Series One of the Remote Working Podcast
So over the next few episodes, I’m going to be having some fantastic guests coming in to speak with me about all of the issues relating to building a remote working business and all of the tech issues and the tech challenges that building a team and building a trust along the way as well. So I hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, drop me an email. It’s email@example.com.
If you liked the episode, please do give us a review. It will only take a moment of your time and I will be forever in your debt. Thank you so much.