A man in a button-up shirt and tie sits next to a couple at an office table. The man is opening a laptop and the other man and woman have coffee cups, notebooks and a digital tablet in front of them. In the background, a large window lets in golden light.
One of an introvert's greatest skills is listening to others, and this can be a strength when dealing with customers. — Getty Images/scyther5

Few entrepreneurs excel at every relationship-building activity, and personality traits play a role. An extrovert may thrive while networking at conferences, whereas introverts prefer smaller events. There's more than one way to build connections with customers, even if you don't consider yourself a people person.

Use the following tactics and strategies to strengthen your outreach efforts and develop meaningful customer relationships.

Concentrate on your strengths

Many introverts prefer one-to-one conversations over big groups, and written communications may be easier to navigate than livestreaming on Facebook. While certain activities are unavoidable, any method that establishes a two-way communication channel is a step forward. Email, social media, live chat and instant messaging platforms are excellent mediums for introverts.

According to Sprout Social, "[W]hen customers feel connected to brands, 57% will increase their spending with that brand, and 76% will buy from them over a competitor." Indeed, the same survey found that "70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active on social."

Think about different social media tasks and strategies, such as creating a private Facebook group or interacting on posts. These are areas where you can actively participate in relationship-building activities yet give yourself space to think about your response or set boundaries.

Also, introverts can be great listeners, which is conducive to rapport-building. Look for opportunities to hear and understand your customers. Use surveys and social media polls to engage clients and gather data. Then take what you learn and use it to rehearse in-person or video conversations.

[Read more: How to Tell if You’re an Introvert or Extrovert at Work]

Leverage technology

Unlike extroverts, introverts may find networking draining. Introverts often need to carefully manage their emotional and physical energy levels when attending events or scheduling back-to-back meetings. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation features support your relationship-building and time-management goals.

Extroverts and introverts bring unique skills to the table. Select business partners and team leaders that add balance to your team.

Here's how various tech tools help introverts build connections with customers:

  • Booking and calendar apps: Use appointment software to consult with prospective clients or offer live sales demonstrations. This way, you can set your availability and prepare for scheduled interactions. Calendar integrations help account for your overall time, allowing you to build in downtime or non—customer-related tasks.
  • Business phone systems: A phone service with unified communications features helps you capture and analyze conversations across multiple channels. Instead of trying to take notes during a meeting, your phone system can record and transcribe them. Plus, you can toggle do not disturb (DND) when you need a break.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM): Glean insights from conversations by integrating your CRM with your business phone system. Use what you learn to create auto-responders for email and sales pitches. Choose a CRM with mobile apps, so you can feel more comfortable heading into meetings or making small talk.
  • Social media management: Consistency is crucial to building relationships with customers on social media. Use social media tools to plan posts so that you can dedicate effort to real-time interactions.

[Read more: 5 Ways to Be a Successful Leader, Even If You're an Introvert]

Get external support

Although introverts may struggle with teamwork at times, putting a support system in place can improve your customer relationship-building efforts. Even if you're a solopreneur, it can be beneficial to outsource certain marketing, sales or customer service tasks.

Identify your weaknesses or least favorite activities and find ways to overcome them by:

  • Building a diverse team: Extroverts and introverts bring unique skills to the table. Select business partners and team leaders that add balance to your team. A coworker can start livestreams and invite you on the call midway through, or you can outsource marketing tasks that you're less comfortable with.
  • Working with a coach or mentor: A professional can suggest coping tactics and workarounds for business tasks you struggle with. Find mentors offering solutions based on your personality and industry.
  • Joining industry groups: Community groups on Facebook and dues-based organizations provide messaging spaces for interacting with like-minded entrepreneurs. These forums can give introverts business tips and boost your confidence after dealing with a challenging client.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published February 18, 2022