Fear of Speaking up and Promoting Self

Ilise asked about what people are afraid of when it comes to speaking up and self-promotion. My situation is a little different from what you see in the entry’s comments as you know that I’m profoundly deaf. When I make calls, I go through a relay service and it’s incredible how many people hang up on the relay service before I even get a chance to speak.
When I worked for a company, I took on three clients as an “ambassador.” One kept hanging up on me no matter what I tried to do. So I wrote a letter and explained the situation. It didn’t do any good.
Anyway, I get fearful of calling clients (especially ones that don’t know me) because the relay service is a real pain (though a blessing, too) as it’s slow, uncomfortable, and impersonal.

I try to market other ways… through newsletters, Web site, emails, interacting with the online community. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten many clients this way. Most come through referrals. I’ve tried researching potential clients and sending them emails; that has yet to pay off.
So while I’m not a shy person by nature, my hearing loss gives me shy tendencies because I get very uncomfortable in new in-person situations such as networking events and organization events. I shy away from these because I’m not a perfect lipreader and it’s too easy to meet people that I don’t understand.
While it’s easy to say, “Let them know you need them to speak more clearly or slowly (NOT loudly, thank you, though)” or “Let them know you’re having trouble understanding them,” these are not easy to do. When you’ve been in my shoes — you fear of making people think you’re weak or insulting them because you can’t understand them (like saying you don’t speak well).