scorecardI'm a shy introvert who read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.' Here are 3 ways it made me more likeable and a better salesperson.
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I'm a shy introvert who read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.' Here are 3 ways it made me more likeable and a better salesperson.

Jen Glantz   

I'm a shy introvert who read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.' Here are 3 ways it made me more likeable and a better salesperson.
Careers5 min read
  • Jen Glantz recently read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
  • She says the book helped her network as an entrepreneur by asking people questions about themselves.

One thing I've always felt I could improve upon is my people skills. As a one-woman show, I'm responsible for every aspect of my business, and when I look at my weekly responsibilities, more than 75% of them involve interacting with others, whether at networking events or on calls with clients.

The challenge is that deep-down, I'm incredibly introverted and shy.

A few months ago, after venting to my husband about how I wished I could be more outgoing, he handed me a book that he claims made a big impact on his life and social interactions. The book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, has sold more than 30 million copies since it was released in 1936, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.

The book provides 30 different principles around how to make people like you more, influence their way of thinking, and be a better leader. After finishing the book, I spent two months implementing a few of the main points in my personal life and business interactions. Here's what I saw happen.

Listening rather than talking about myself made people like me more

When I'm having a conversation with someone, I often fear that I'll run out of things to say or sound boring. In the past, I've spent hours preparing for networking events and friend's parties by writing down interesting stories I could tell and rehearsing them out loud in front of the mirror.

But one of Carnegie's principles in the book made me realize that my approach to conversations is all wrong: Rather than fish for things to talk about, he says, it's best to try to get the other person to talk about themselves.

He argues that if you ask people questions about what's going on in their lives, they usually walk away feeling like they had a positive interaction with you. That's because, Carnegie claims, people are more interested in themselves, their wants, and their problems more than anything else.

So recently, I wrote out a list of questions that I thought people would be excited to answer. For one networking event with people in creative industries, I thought about questions that would get them to comfortably share new projects they were working on without feeling like they were bragging, such as,"What's something you're excited to work on next week?" That got some people to open up about a side hustle they were about to start that they hadn't shared with anyone else yet. Rather than provide feedback or even share my own journey as an entrepreneur, I listened and responded with follow-up questions.

The hardest part of following this principle was silencing my thoughts and anxiety that if I didn't jump in and share something about myself, the conversation would eventually fade or become too one-sided. But not only did this technique make the conversation flow more naturally, I ended up having to speak about myself less, while still leaving a good impression on the other person. After that one networking event, two of the three people I did this with emailed me to share how much they enjoyed chatting and asked to meet in the upcoming weeks to talk about potentially working together on future projects.

Dramatizing my ideas got people's attention

When I'm trying to land a new client, I'll get on a sales call with them and show a short PowerPoint presentation that details my credibility and services.

However, one thing I tend to forget is that most of these potential clients are meeting with a handful of other competitors who might be presenting their offerings in the exact same way. Because I worry about making sure I get all of my details across to them, I suppress a lot of the natural creativity, passion, or even personality that makes me stand out.

That's why Carnegie suggests in his book that we dramatize our ideas. In addition to sharing the truth, he recommends making it vivid, interesting, dramatic, and colorful — that way, you can make what you have to say more memorable.

I've started spending less time reading my slide bullet points and more time showing my services and offerings in action — whether through client-testimonial videos, bold photographs, and even props. Recently when I tried this, I noticed more engagement and more targeted questions from potential clients, and even had one comment from someone saying it was the best presentation they'd heard all week.

I used this technique in my personal life, too. For months, I'd unsuccessfully been able to convince my husband to stick to a spending budget. So rather than make him look over a spreadsheet of our finances, I got a pack of fake money in the exact amount of what I wanted to convince him to start saving. I then took each of the fake $100 bills and dropped them, one by one, on the floor to show how much money we were wasting. Once he was able to see how our mindless spending was adding up, he agreed to try to stick to the budget for the month of November — and for the first time all year, he was successful.

Encouragement can be incredibly motivating

One service I offer is coaching packages for people who want to start their own side hustle. Usually during my first session with a coaching client they'll share a big idea that they want to accomplish. In an effort to be honest and transparent, sometimes I'll let them know that the path to those milestones might take a few years and a few setbacks.

Carnegie says in his book that when you want to motivate someone to achieve their goals, rather than tell them that's going to be hard and that the odds aren't in their favor, we can instead do the opposite, which is encourage them to take precise steps forward and then celebrate them along the way.

I recently had a coaching client who wanted to go from zero Instagram followers to 15,000 by the end of the month. Instead of saying that likely wouldn't happen. I strategized with her how to achieve this by using content-creation tools, audience feedback, and engaging topics. While it took six weeks to reach that goal instead of four, she was able to see what it takes to grow a social-media audience and not give up on her dream. Every time she hit a milestone, we had a virtual champagne toast.

I've also adopted this mindset with my own business. If I have a big monthly goal I want to hit, such as making a certain amount of money, I'll set smaller weekly goals — every time I hit a milestone, I celebrated with something I enjoy, like getting my nails done or even just taking an afternoon off.

As a solopreneur who didn't get a business degree or go to business school, I'm constantly having to find ways to grow my skills and expand my knowledge. After reading this book, I feel like I completed a course in how to update my social and leadership skills that will greatly benefit me in both my business and personal life.