Building a powerful personal brand online the introvert way, with Susanna Reay


Visibility is a clear precursor to success online. On social media this means showing up. For some people being outgoing and the centre of attention is easy. For others it's actually very challenging if not downright painful, especially online. Does that mean it's ok to leave social media for those who are less introverted? Of course not.

This week my guest is Susanna Reay. Susanna works with business owners, introverts in particular, to help them take their traditional businesses online. We talk about tips and tricks for overcoming the fear, why you need ( like really need ) a framework and why over thinking will kill your business faster than anything ( and how to fix it. ).

About Susanna

Susanna Reay is an introverted coach & mentor who specialises in supporting service-based like-minded entrepreneurs create an online business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their talents so they can change the world from their living rooms.

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Automatic Audio Transcription

So, Susanna, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Bob. It's a pleasure to be here. So, yeah, thanks for your questions. Who I am? Well, my name is Susanna Reay and I do business online, the introvert way, which for myself that what that means is that I look and help introverted coaches, consultants, healers, creatives, how they bring their business online so they can share their knowledge in a way that is aligned to how they want their businesses to run.

And as an introvert, what this tends to mean is we've got to be a little bit more careful about where we spend our energies because we can get burnt out more easily. So it's very much focused on doing the right things in the right order and bringing strategy into that business where probably before they hadn't really thought about that.

So when you talk about bringing businesses online, instinctively, I see sort of two two areas of work there. One is the processes around bringing your business online. So that might be where you transacted in the real world previously. You now need to transact online. So there's a transactional question there bringing your products and your services online. But then there's also discovering and finding new markets where you may be networked in the real world previously need only to find new ways to do that online.

Which of those areas do you focus on or is it typically a blend of the two? Absolutely.

That there are those two areas. And I do find I blend them in the sense that some people, as you say, they have. Well, most of my clients, in fact, do have experience in what they would call the real world. They've probably got over 20 years experience and knowledge behind them. And now they're looking at doing the transactional piece online. Absolutely. So they might be thinking of doing things like setting up online courses and memberships or even just a one on one sort of high value coaching program.

And they want help to understand how do I set up things like an online course platform or taking payments online even? What should I be saying on my website? So it's then creating that niche, which is the second part, and helping them discover the communities and the places online that are in sync with what their message is, but also how they want to bring themselves outwards on in the online sort of social scape.

And I'm looking at I will confess to being a raging introvert. It's I think I remember I did a survey on Twitter a while back, and the survey was very simple. It was are you an introvert or an extrovert? And 95 percent of the responses were, I'm an introvert. And I think that what that tells me is either Twitter users are all introverts, which I don't, or a lot of people misidentify as an introvert because they may be shy shyness and introversion, they don't necessarily go hand in hand.

Now, you you spend your time focusing specifically on introverts. You know, that's probably better than I do. What's your perspective on that?

Absolutely. I'm always sort of doing some myth busting here that absolutely you can be a shy, extrovert or shy introvert.

But introversion is really more about the fact that you like to spend time feeling and thinking inwardly rather than naturally talking about things. And this is why it's based on your energies and is really interesting with your Twitter side of things, because this is what I realized and I moved into this space about five years ago. And the online business space is absolutely perfect for those of us who are more introverted because of the fact we do a lot of thinking on our own.

We're very good at sending up independently run businesses. So, yes, we can work with teams, but actually we're very self-motivated. So it goes between then understanding where should I show up and when? Say, for instance, we're doing this podcast and we've both chosen as introverts. Actually, this is a great way of doing it because we can record we can have a conversation. And then at the end, we turn off that recording and we can relax and we don't have to be on show anymore in the same way, whereas an extrovert really wants to go off to the coffee house to work, for instance, was not so many introverts would choose to go to a coffee house because that's kind of like socializing whilst they are trying to work.

And introverts more tend to be really sort of focused on what they're doing one thing at a time and deep dive. So in this balance, you do find a lot of introverted personalities online, but you might not necessarily recognize because of the fact there's this myth that introverts aren't meant to be sociable, they're not conversationalists, that they're shy, I don't know, and all those sort of negative connotations, whereas in fact, it's more about how we actually use our energies and what we want to do in our downtime.

So if we've spent a day talking to lots of people, even if it's online, more likely to be pretty exhausted at the end of the day and not wanting to do anything else, whereas our extroverted companions are more likely in more normal times than the point we're recording now. Be up for going out to the pub, having a drink, and it's a very different way how our energies are managed.

So if we look at the typical client for you, they've had a traditional business and I know we met properly just as Lockton was becoming a thing. And I know your business has really I'm not sure if it's changed quite a lot, but certainly you seem to have hit your stride through Lockton because lots of people are turning to. They're looking for solutions because they haven't been able to do things the way they've done them before. What what sort of typical scenarios are you finding when people present to you at the moment, say, my clients, when they come towards me, they're quite often in the space of.

They've been thinking probably actually for pre lockdown as well, before everything changed. They were beginning to think that there must be a better way of sharing their knowledge because they've kind of hit an income ceiling of trading time for money because most of them are in service based industries where really it's the limit of the hours in the week and they've begun to go, well, I don't really want to spend, you know, 45, 50 hour weeks any more working on my business.

But how can I create the same income by moving online? And obviously at the moment, a lot of that's been due to the fact as well that maybe they couldn't run the business in the old way. So they approach me and go, well, you know, this is what I'm doing in my business right now. What elements can I actually move and bring online?

And a lot of my clients are very much in the 40 to 60 year old sort of age range who have had a good 20 years experience plus behind them working.

So they do have an expertise in the area. It's not like a frivolous oh, let's try this for a change. It's far more about how can I sort of make the next stage that growth in my business so I can really scale and have a bigger impact? Because quite often the coaches and consultants, as I've mentioned before, and they just really want to share the message to a wider audience and have realized that when you work online, there is this possibility to scale.

So listening to that demographic you work with, it's largely female.

I'm assuming it is mainly because my network is naturally more female based, but I have worked with a few male clients as well.

I think where I'm coming to is it's female, it's 40 to 60 years old. It's typically going to be non digital native introverts. That's a lot of challenge.

It is. And you're right, it is very much about gentle handholding and making the tech non scary. And this is something that also most of my clients actually have at some point before they come to me, have been part of some of these really large online group training programs by big names. And they felt completely lost, unseen, unheard, because their natural way of being isn't to raise their hand, get on the hot seat and have their questions answered, because they normally have about, you know, 100 questions in their head at one time.

And a lot of those big group programs, they say, just bring one question and we'll do it in ten minutes. And you're on a deadline. And that kind of scares us as introverts. It's not that we don't have to say. We just don't like that tight time constraint or so to say it. And so I'm very much about holding the space. And the programs I run are really about small group coaching pods as well that I don't do the let's get this out to the masses.

When I'm doing the live training, I have self led programs where many people can run through. But when people connect with me, they do it because they want that personal connection and to be seen and heard.

So what's going through my head, as you're speaking, is a lot of different things. And I think one thing with introverts is. They are very good at holding often opposing views at the same time. That's something that I've often struggled with as I can. I can see this as true and I can see this as true. And they're actually quite contradictory. And I think that often leads to an awful lot of indecision and inaction. I'm not sure where I'm going with this question, but I guess so.

It's about giving direction and guidance is actually quite key. I mean, from what you were saying, whether, as you say, we do tend to have both arguments and our head and lots of solutions. So it's helping speed up that process quite often by giving clarity and focus and bringing people to take the action that they need to grow their business.

I think that's a good answer to the question I should have asked. One thing that's always troubled me a little bit, and you probably have a good perspective on this is introverts can often use introversion as an excuse, saying I'm an introvert so I can't do all the things the extroverts do, something that's often bugged me, especially on social media and LinkedIn in particular.

As you see all these people and I've got a big brush and I'm painting the wall here saying all these people quite obviously extroverts with strong opinions. They're not necessarily the smartest cookies. A lot of the time they're not necessarily skilled them. They're not necessarily even that knowledgeable. And you can I have a really big brush here. But what they do have is an opinion. And then they express that opinion on a certain number of people will rally around that opinion and go, yeah, you're right.

And yet the introvert, I mean, is raging. And yet I let that happen. And I because I'm an introvert, I don't show up online now. I've worked very hard on this. Obviously, I can't use those excuses anymore. But I see so many people with great potential, great opinions, great businesses. They don't show up online because there's this barrier of I'm an introvert. How do you help people cross that threshold into showing up online and expressing their value?

Because at the end of the day, business is a value exchange. And if you can't express your value, nobody's going to buy it from you. It doesn't matter how you package or productize it.

Absolutely. I'm like nodding along here. You can't see me because we're just doing this audio. But I.

I was exactly that as well. And this is why it is one of the areas I do support my clients because I struggle to two.

And one of the main areas that we can then have that confidence to show up is about having belief in what you do and your service and how to talk about it. So a lot of my work, because I deal with clients who might have quite an intangible service. And one way, if you're thinking about life coaches and transformation, is to help them create very unique frameworks to hang their methods on so they can start rather than needing to talk about themselves, talk about the methods, frameworks and how they sort of create that transformation.

Because many introverts, myself included and gosh, the number of times I must have started to write a comment on some of these opinionated articles, as you say, on LinkedIn, and then you delete it and then you go, oh, start again.

And you realize I've written a paragraph and then I'm like, I'm I'm not sure what I should say it that way, because I think we tend to think quite a lot about, well, how are people perceiving us, whereas extroverts tend to speak first and then wait for the reaction to see how they've been perceived.

So a lot of the crux of all this is around your messaging on how you show up and your belief in your message and your services. So that's a huge area that I work on, is helping people really define one of these elements is I have a mini course, which is called the Big Message Master Class. And this is just three sentences that when they put together, people really understand how they can reach out and talk to their clients and attract the people who like what they have.

And once you become confident in your message, it becomes a lot easier to show up online because you have that focus and clarity.

And so this big message format is that's something that's quite easy to quickly explain to me, or is that something that would need a bit more time?

It's relatively simple in the. Basic concept in the fact that when you put together it's a bit like an opening for a networking event, that you want to start with something that's a bit of a hook that makes people understand the problem that the people you work with have. And then in the second stage, we say, well, actually, this is the solution I give, which is very unique to you and your business. And then the third sentence focuses on what is actually the end result.

But the secret with it is to make sure that it's interconnected as well.

So it's not three separate sentences, something that really pulls together in a nice, simple way that people can memorize and something I imagine has a bit of an emotional punch as well.

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. You want to bring in some of the emotion, actually, in the and one of the great phrases to start this big message would be saying most people who you work with, because you then also normalize that the issues that your audience are having. So for myself, like most female entrepreneurs, struggle with the overwhelm of where to start with their business online. So you're making it normal as well with what that struggle is, because a lot of people are very fearful of reaching out to experts and gaining expert help because they're afraid, particularly as introverts, afraid of actually seeming a bit stupid, like I should know this already, because introverts by our very nature are huge researchers.

We are the ones that even if we were going to work with an accountant, we probably research what an accountant does before rather than just handing it over blindly.

So there's this fear that you need to sort of get across in this message, in the first sentence to help your clients know that, hey, what you're feeling and what you're looking for, that's normal for where you're at at this point in your business.

I really like that because I think when people think about marketing in any shape, whether it's digital or offline, traditional business is a value exchange. And in marketing, they always talk about these seven P's sometimes, but they talk about five. Sometimes they talk about seven. The last one is always promotion. And when anybody ever comes to marketing, they jump straight to the end and go with promotion, promote, promote, promote. The first of these is product.

And for your clients, they are the product. So they need to be able to express what that value is efficiently in a way that cuts through that. They don't have to do any explanations. There's no big storytelling. There's just who are you? I'm this person. I do this wow job done. And I think you're sort of your your pick message format there will work really, really strongly on that. Something you mentioned earlier was framework's, and that's something I've been thinking about quite a lot recently because I have a bit of a framework and it's something that's come up with my own clients again and again.

Is that as part of this, what is your product? What is the value that you are sort of offering? The framework walks you through the journey to the transformation, whatever that is. It doesn't matter if you're a mechanic or a crystal healer. There's a transformation somewhere. So how do you help people on this journey towards developing a framework? Because that I think really gets to the guts of how can I communicate my value and get people to engage on that journey?

Yeah. Yeah. So how I help is I'm actually a very visual and creative thinker as well. In fact, my background started with art and design. I went to college before I moved into the business world.

So I have quite a unique way that when I'm talking with clients and I'll be asking lots of questions about how they work and move, but at the same time is visual frameworks in terms of whether you're talking about roadmaps, pyramid spirals or even there's all sorts of like moon orbiting planets, that there's different frameworks that come to me through this series of questioning that can then connect to the people to make them go. I understand.

Or maybe they're linking it through the seasons in the year because I find many of my clients really some form of visual element that also then obviously helps in terms of website and social media and things that they can talk about.

But it's through a series of deep dive questions where I really get.

The essence of what they do and we move forward and this is why it's so important being in that sort of small closed space of only a few people, because only by diving deep can people begin to really understand and believe in what they've been doing, even if they've been doing it for 10, 15 years.

I find this that they haven't really been aware of what it is they do because they've been working one to one on the whole and in very much sort of private sessions where they'll use their intuition to lead them in the right direction and use certain methods.

They've never actually put this into a more containable framework, which is really what we need when we're marketing online is to help people see this is the journey. I'm going to go on with this person and what does that look like? And it can take many different forms.

I can totally see that. I think the visual element of it is really quite important. And I guess like a lot of things, nothing in the world is new. And I think if you want to develop a framework, the best place to start is to probably, obviously ask these questions, but also research other frameworks that are out there and adapt one of those obviously not copy, not ripoff. But like I said, everything is inspired by something somewhere.

Yeah, absolutely.

That there's an amazing sort of world hive mind where we all sort of ricochet off each other and see different things. But what is even if we take a traditional roadmap as a framework where you might say it's five steps to lead to a destination, each individual person, even though you're using that as a similar framework, you will have different elements in there. And one of the most important things when you're creating these sort of steps or sharing the transformation is at every stage to make sure you say why that's important.

That's quite key. And a lot of people forget about that. They just focus on how they do something opposed to why and what the result is as to why they're doing that part of their business.

And I can really see as well how this can help with the product ization, because in the real world, you meet somebody, you have a conversation, you explain your services, you build rapport and you deepen that over time. And eventually people become a customer online. That's far harder to do. So you really need shortcuts to understanding and something that's very visual, like a framework diagram as effectively it's like a pictogram. It allows you to communicate very, very efficiently, often quite complicated ideas in a way that your ideal customer can go, wow, yeah, I get that.

So yeah, I really like I'm going to have to go and do a very visual framework. Mine isn't very visual. Yeah, absolutely.

And you can have great fun with this. I'm, I'm a huge, huge advocate of just big pieces of paper and lots of colourful pens too.

I'm when I'm people are brainstorming like mind mapping is a great place to start when people are trying to work out what it is I do and what makes me unique.

And when you start just using pen and paper, sometimes things can be too digital and have it in front of you. So it's probably something you'd work on over a period of days or even weeks as well.

But the advantage of this being on pen and paper on the desk is every time you came into that space, you might just add another little comment or a note which would build the framework to work with what you need, because many of us, it's very hard to do that form of brain dump and creation in one setting.

It takes time, I think, as well.

Bring other people in on it, because I remember at one point I had a framework that covered three whiteboards. For me, it was just it was like the master key to the universe, but nobody else really got it. So you need to crystallize and simplify and other people will help you do that. Oh, absolutely.

And as you say, if you're covering three white boards, it's then pulling out. Well, what are the main elements? And quite often the way our brains work, we do like things in terms of like three, four, five and seven. For some reason, the human brain really connects. So if you create a three parts framework of four parts, five or seven, it tends to flow more nicely. So as you say from your big three whiteboard experience, I bet there were some key elements in the.

You were going there the probably the milestones of the transformation that you provide to your client, to your clients and customers.

I love the three, four, five and seven. I've never heard that before. I've heard sort of the one or the other often. But as a three, four, five and seven. Never heard that before. I've written it down. It's great.

Yeah. And I do find that a lot of the frameworks I collate and connect with clients, they are based in that area.

So people who are more more structured quite like, you know, the sort of matrix aspect of when you've got a full base thing because it can be shown as a two by two. And there's a lot of business frameworks that are based on a two by two matrix as well. So it does depend where you're coming from, whereas the more intuitive coaches, creatives, healers really seem to like the three five seven link and they sort of sit naturally.

So I find it quite interesting as well, seeing which personalities draw to the different levels.

So we've spoken a bit about product. You know, I quite like to maybe shift back to the introverts journey. One thing with introverts and again, my big brush out and if there's lots of introverts listening, thinking, that's not me, I'm not talking about you. A lot of introverts overthink on the one hand and they're perfectionists on the other. And those two things will often conspire either individually or collectively to prevent you taking any action of any kind.

How do you help people either shortcut work around hack, but move past these challenges, which are huge assets a lot of the time towards actually taking action, particularly around showing up online, because that's where we often struggle the most.

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm chuckling here because all there's so many of us who are perfectionists, like the AI style students, and then we overthink everything like crazy, because as you mentioned earlier, we see both sides of the coin say, like, I could do that, I could do that.

But ultimately, at the end of the day, you do need to just take a few basic actions to get started, because it's really easy when we're introverted and we go, oh, but my website's got to be perfect before I start talking about my business. I can't set up my social media or I can't do this or how on earth am I going to get my first clients? And so as a result of this, I actually created what I call my OVERTHINKS action plan.

That really does just tell you those first critical steps that everyone who wants to work online needs to do and take. And just to do it, it wouldn't take more than a couple of hours in total. And if you do this is you done you sort it and at some point you kind of just got to bite the bullet and say, OK, I'll do that. And then you going. And once you're going, you can refine and you can iterate to the sort of perfectionism that you're questing.

I think done is better than perfect, is very easy to hear. But for a lot of people, it's very, very difficult that everything needs to be perfect, especially if if you're a designer or you're a creative, because everything not only has to be correct now, it has to be visually gorgeous. And if you're not a designer, nothing's ever good enough. And if you are a designer, even then, nothing's ever good enough. So, yeah, it can really cause a lot of barriers.

And I think that's why a lot of people as well then do look to experts to obviously help them because they realize they've been going round in circles on something. And it's not because they don't necessarily have the intelligence to do it themselves. It's just about getting things done. At the end of the day, you have to accept that you can't be Superwoman, Superman and run around doing everything.

So it's about focusing on the most important areas to create the biggest impact. I like that.

And I think also that will change over time because for me, I remember two years ago the thing that was going to make the biggest impact was the podcast. Everything else that I do now would have been Mission Impossible, but it's by taking a little bit of action, you learn, and the next step suddenly is possible.

And then that unlocks the next step you learn when you take action. You don't learn by thinking about taking action.

It's it sounds very simple, but it's very, very powerful as well as small action leads to a small win. It doesn't matter how small it is.

Yeah, absolutely. Every little step. Absolutely through the air and when you look back and if you've taken those little steps each week, it's amazing when you look back and think how far you've come. And I know even when I look at my own journey and I think, gosh, yeah, like, well, four years ago, I wouldn't have been seen dead, sort of going live and doing videos and various things because again, hey, I'm introverted.

I'm worried about what people are thinking. But then I actually went to a great video coach who coached me through it and just made me take those actions. And now I much prefer going live and doing that on video than sitting down and writing a written content piece.

So it's kind of changed even the way I operate. And this is where I realized in terms of my own energies going live and talking about something, I can get sort of knowledge and information and inspiration all compiled in sort of five, ten minutes. Whereas if I was writing that, I would take days perfecting it because I'd be like, oh, I'll just rewrite this bit. And then before you know it, you've also lost your natural voice in the piece.

So now I start with a video and then I have a transcription which are just tidy up and then that goes out as part of my marketing, whether it's on social or my website. So we also learn how different methods can manage and promote our own voice in different ways.

So you mentioned your own journey and it's obviously not finished. I think you probably have a while to go before you're at the end of your journey. Do we ever get to the end?

That's what I want. Yeah, but what do you personally struggle with now? I mean. Everybody struggles with something, even those people that we see online that look like they've got it all nailed down, they have their own struggles. So in terms of your business, what are your struggles right now?

I think personally, some of my biggest struggles is still fighting that inner perfectionism in terms of going, OK, I need to show up. And then how that shows as a challenge is maybe I know I'm not following up as much as I necessarily need to because I don't want to be a nuisance, I think is how it sort of comes out that I feel like, oh, well, if I contact them again, maybe I'll be a nuisance. I've never actually had any negative feedback from following up, but I know it's still a challenge within myself to keep.

And this is kind of going against my introvert nature because I kind of feel like, well, hey, people will just come to me and actually with online business know we need to keep showing up and reaching out. So we do stay top of mind. So I know what I want to say, but I do still struggle with that. That's definitely a challenge with for me personally, it's against that logical and emotional side. Logically, I know what I do, but emotionally I'm still going.

Yeah, but do I have to. Yeah, no.

I think in an ideal world for me people would just come to me because I'm the best option for them. That would be fantastic. The world just doesn't work like that. Unfortunately, Suzanne, I'm looking at the time and we should probably look at wrapping things up soon. But I always try to end with one question. That's my signature question, if you like. And normally I give people a warning, but I forgot. What's one thing you do now that you wish you'd started five years ago, I would say.

It's having the confidence to talk more about what I do in my business, because now I have the confidence and I go out and this is being involved in positive communities and networking groups, which I just ran scared of. And I'm not sure whether if I had done this five years ago, I would have had the same success, because I do believe there is a time and a place when you know in yourself and you're ready.

So I guess it was probably more to have that belief and maybe signing up at that point and sooner to a businessman to who would have helped give me that belief myself sooner and faster. So I felt that confidence to able to show up more.

I can definitely relate to that. Suzanna, if people want to get in touch with you, if they want to go further with you, how can they do that?

The best way is to take a look at my website, which is Suzanna Ray dot com. I'm sure my name will be written. So you know how to spell that. And if you add members own in front of these ray dot coms and members own dot Susanna Ray dot com, you will find that actually there as well. If it intrigued you, the OVERTHINKS action plan, that's a free download.

You can sample and see a lot more about what I do and what I'm about and those places I'll put links to both of those in the children's book. Susannah Ray, thank you very much for your time. You've been a great guest. I've had some time. I learned a lot about my condition. I can't wait to see you again soon. Thanks very much for having me. It's been a great conversation. Taking action online doesn't have to be complicated or planned out in ridiculous detail in advance.

Focus on the next step, take that step and discover what the next new step is. I love a plan. And if there's one thing I know, it's that the moment I take action, the plan will probably change, have a solid goal and an outline of a plan. But above all, take action before I go. Just a quick reminder to subscribe. And if you haven't already to join our Facebook group, you'll find a link in the show, notes or just visit Amplify me, dot EFM forward slash insiders and you'll be taken right there.

I would love for you to connect with me on social media. Follow me wherever you hang out. You'll find me at Bob Gentle. And if you do message me, let me know and I can follow you back. If you've enjoyed the show, then I would love, like, literally love for you to review it on iTunes and particularly iTunes, because iTunes is really the place where most people discover this show and it helps me reach more subscribers.

My name is Bob Chandler. Thanks again to Susanna for giving us her time this week and to you for listening. See you next week.