Shy Businessman photo from ShutterstockThere is little doubt that building a personal brand goes a long way in establishing your career or business. However, for people who are shy or are prone to social anxiety, many of the strategies suggested in brand building, such as attending networking events or public speaking, can be stressful. Here are tips to building a personal brand for the shy and socially anxious.

Connect online

Social networking is a cost effective and time efficient way to reach out and connect with influencers, but it’s also a low-stress option for people who are shy. Unlike in-person networking, online networking allows you the time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. You don’t have the additional stress that can go with thinking on your feet and worrying about making a great impression.

A study published in CyberPsychology & Behavior, indicated that social media and online chat offers people who are socially anxious a “low-risk social approach and opportunity to rehearse social behavior and communication skills.” The study further suggested that building relationships online could lead to improved interaction offline in face-to-face situations.

Be prepared

It’s true that practice makes perfect, or at least, it can increase your confidence and improve performance. One form of practice is through social media, where you can create, memorize and deliver your brand message. But you don’t live in a digital world, so you should study and practice sharing your brand statements in work or business. The idea is that when someone asks about your work, you can effortlessly deliver an answer, without stumbling or feeling anxious.

Find allies

Even extroverts can find it difficult to toot their own horns, so it must be doubly so for shy people. And when you consider that third-party testimonials are more powerful than horn-tooting, you can see the advantage of finding others who can speak about you. Allies can vouch for your work, provide guidance, and help you prepare and practice delivering your brand message.

Take one small step frequently

You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you run. Stepping outside your comfort zone is no different. That means, you don’t have to force yourself to speak in public to overcome your anxiety or shyness. Start small by sharing feedback in a meeting or asking a question at a seminar. Challenge yourself to take one small step outside of your comfort zone everyday to practice and build your confidence. Overtime, you’ll build your social confidence to the point where you can network in person or speak in public.

If you’re an introvert, you’re in good company. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are just two of many famous and successful introverts. While you may not cure yourself completely from shyness, like Gates and Buffet, you can overcome it enough to build a brand that leads to a successful career or business.