I’m so glad I wasn’t on a reality show for my first craft show (The Real Crafters
of Canada?). That would have been a whole lot of
awkward caught on camera. Craft shows can be really intimidating for
introverts; not only are you putting your work out there for people to
critique, you have to put yourself out there, spending the entire day around
crowds of people, chatting with strangers. I know from experience how
intimidating it can be; do I say hi? They didn’t hear me….do I say hi again? Where
do I look? I don’t want them to feel like I’m staring at them. How much should
I talk about my products? I don’t want to bother them….
The good news is that it does get a lot easier and fast.
Here are 12 things that helped me come out of my shell for shows.
Know that people aren’t looking for you to talk constantly
about where you sourced your material, what you were thinking when you made
this piece or what the entire process is. There will be some inquisitive
shoppers but most just want to make a connection with you. That may mean
chatting about the weather or a hobby of their own. How much you talk or share
is completely up to you so don’t feel pressured to tell everyone everything. If you create an effective display, you can let it do the talking for you. Add elements to draw shoppers in, avoid common mistakes, use signage to communicate important messages and find ways to sell to them after the event. It can also be helpful to know what organizers and other vendors expect of you to feel more relaxed.
If you have enough time before the doors open, walk around
and introduce yourself to the other vendors. This will not only put you at ease
by making you feel like you’re surrounded by friends, rather than strangers, it
will also warm up your conversation skills so you feel more relaxed when the
first customer hits your booth.
Find what excites you
about your products
When we’re passionate about something, we can’t help but
talk about it. What’s that one thing you think is really exciting about your
work that you can’t wait to share? Think about that beforehand. It’s almost
like perfecting your elevator pitch. It should be engraved into your brain so
you don’t even have to think about it, the words just pour out. If you feel
like you can only get one sentence out, start with that one.
Smile, smile, smile!
I know firsthand that shyness and introversion can be taken
the wrong way by people. Although our friends and family know we’re just quiet,
strangers can mistake that quality for being rude. I heard over and over, once
people got to know me, that “wow, you’re actually really nice”. Thank you?
Because of this I know that even if I don’t feel I can get words out, I need to have a smile on my face so they don’t think I’m standing there, quietly
Get them talking
The biggest thing to remember, whether you’re an introvert
or not, is that people like to feel important. The best way to do this and at
the same time, take the focus off of you is to ask them questions about
themselves. The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to find a
common interest. When I find a fellow cat lover, I could talk for days!
Don’t go overboard with questions though. You don’t want them to feel like
they’re being interviewed. Not to mention, they may be an introvert like you – in which case, check out our article How to Sell to Introverts.
Take cues when someone wants to chat and when they just want to quietly shop.
Ask the right kind of
Don’t just ask one’s they can answer with a “yes” or “no”
to; those will cut the conversation short and put the pressure back on you. Ask
open-ended questions they have to put a little more effort into answering:
These will get them to open up a bit more and they may share
something while answering that makes for an easy transition into another topic. More on this subject in our article How to Start a Conversation with any Shopper.
Prepare some tactics and open-ended
questions you can ask when you’re feeling on the spot. You don’t need to read
them from a piece of paper but have a few in the back of your mind that you can
use on shoppers throughout the day so you’re not scrambling to find something
to say when you’re caught off guard. There are a few best practices retailers use to sell more without saying a word. Consider how you can use them at your next event.
Check that you have everything you need before you leave the house, arrive on time, with all your items tagged and your set up
determined. Rushing to the show and having to figure out the layout of your
booth while shoppers come in will leave you flustered and starting off on the
wrong foot. I also hated fumbling over money exchanges so I was sure to have a setup down and behind my table, away from prying eyes, where I could use a
calculator if need be and count out their change. All of my wrapping supplies were
ready to go so I wasn’t searching for tissue paper and business cards while
they patiently waited…..and watched.
My business partner and I used to laugh about using the same
lines over and over with different customers. To us, it was a lame joke we
heard 100 times in a day but to a new customer it was new and funny. Repetitive?
Yes. But it made making conversation easy.
If you can work your products into the joke, even better. Is
there a funny story behind one item or something it’s commonly mistaken for?
Bring it up when a shopper checks it out (and don’t be afraid to repeat the
same joke with different customers). Humor is a great icebreaker and it helps
the shopper and your overactive mind know, not to take things too seriously.
Complimenting someone on something they’re wearing will
instantly make them feel comfortable and more likely to open up to you. It’s
not something you want to do with every customer, as people will start to think
you’re insincere, but when you really do love something about them, let them
Mimic other vendors
Try to pay attention to the other vendors around you and
pick up on the types of things they say about their products and how they interact
with shoppers. Stay authentic to who you are but don’t be afraid to use some of
the icebreakers, questions and techniques they use, to chat with your
Being an introvert is a great thing; we
typically like to sit back and observe the situation so we become quite
intuitive. Being able to pick up on subtle signs people are giving off puts you
at a great advantage. You might not be able to gab someone’s ear off but you
know when to engage and when to back off.
If you’re still really uncomfortable with the idea of a
craft show, even with these 12 tips, bring a friend or share a booth with a
fellow crafter you know until you feel confident enough to do it on your own.
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