In the dictionary, the word ability precedes the word visibility, but in business, visibility comes first. It doesn’t matter how skilled or able you are, unless people know who you are, where you are and what you do, you will never have the opportunity to shine.
Whether you are creating a profile on social media, attending a networking event, promoting your services in the media, even joining a dating agency, most people are hesitant about ‘putting themselves out there.’ So, what stops us? From my experience, at the heart of this reticence is a fear of rejection which in turn is coiled around the fear of not being good enough.
Like many others, I’ve run the gamut between waiting to be found and waiting to be found out. On one hand, you want to promote what you do, so you can gain more clients, earn more money, or simply have more opportunities to do what you love. On the other, there is the fear of being visible. It was Sophie Loren who said ‘I became successful because I was willing to give up being anonymous.’ Like all great quotes it contains a profound truth. If you want more business, or seek to raise your profile, you have to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Limiting beliefs and inaccurate assumptions are always at play when we question our worthiness, or put off doing what we know we should do. Here’s how I’ve reframed some of the common misconceptions around self-promotion.
Most people have a skewed relationship between honesty and modesty. Honesty is recognising your strengths, skills and opinions, not just acknowledging your perceived weaknesses. When you speak about what you do – own it. Speak enthusiastically about how your business benefits others and how you enjoy what you do. There is nothing disingenuous or cocky about this, you are simply being factual, helpful and honest.
Too often we are our own worst enemies when in reality we should be our greatest champion, advocate and cheerleader all wrapped up in one. If you are passionate about what you do, whether it’s writing, organising weddings, giving massages, arranging events, coaching, doing accounts ….. speak passionately about it. Remember, people don’t just buy services; they buy your energy and enthusiasm.
Your life would be poorer without the many service providers you interact with every day. Now think about the people who are missing out because they don’t know about you and how you can positively impact their lives! By getting more visible you are making them aware of how you are a solution to a challenge or issue they’re facing.
Every service provider, every creative soul struggles with resistance, that self-doubt, that self-critical questioning voice. Resistance will always be present, just accept it and move through it. Just as resistance training at the gym makes you stronger, working through internal resistance means you are growing as a person, developing the muscles of resilience and confidence.
We often associate sales with over-promising, pushiness and manipulation. No one wants that. As I’ve often said, if someone is ‘chasing’ me for a sale, I’m running from them! What we do want, and what we respond favourable to, are quality conversations. For me, this is what sales is all about – purposeful conversations. You don’t have to be a slick salesperson to promote your business, you just have to have positive, meaningful conversations about what it is you do and the benefits you create for others. Today, with social media we have another platform where these conversations can take place.
If it all comes down to conversations across different media, what new conversations can you instigate? New conversations may involve reaching out to new people, or, as is often the case, by having a different conversation with people you already know. Could you remind your network of what it is you do? Have you pivoted aspects of your business as a result of Covid 19 and could you share with others what you are trying to do? Remember it is okay to ask current contacts for assistance, especially when you have a solid relationship in place.
When teetering on the edge of comfort zone, a useful question to ask is – what’s the worst that can happen? There will always be that tension between raising your visibility and feeling vulnerable. Start with gentle steps. What one person could you reach out to today? Some people will want to converse with you, some won’t, but some people will be just waiting to hear what you have to say.
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