I have a confession to make.
Every time I go into a voting booth I have to fight to resist the urge to write my name in for whatever is the top position open.
I have no real desire to run for office, believe me.
But where I think that little temptation comes from is from a deeper call inside me that — in all honesty — I’ve been trying to ignore.
While you might not be tempted to write your name in on the ballot, I’ll bet you have the same call I do.
There’s this burning desire to stand up and speak out about an issue…a problem you not only see but know you have a solution to.
There’s something big you know deep in your heart you’re meant to accomplish. Some wrong you’re meant to right. Some problem you’re meant to solve. Some people you’re meant to help.
Oh you probably tell yourself you’re trying.
You’re doing enough. Or maybe you tell yourself you’ll do something about that someday.
You tell yourself you don’t know enough…you don’t have enough time…you don’t have the reach….
You tell yourself there are others out there that are smarter, more talented, and better suited to this.
That’s what I told myself.
And I asked myself…
I had to recognize that all of that is rooted in fear.
Fear that standing up for what you believe in will get you ostracized.
Fear that if you lead, no one will follow you.
I’m going to share something that’s frankly a little scary to admit; but I want you to know I understand how you wrestle with putting yourself out there in a bigger way versus staying nice and safe where you are.
When I was a little kid people told me…
And that was by the time I was 5!
When I became a teenager I was told the same things only then they had outcomes attached to them. Outcomes that made it clear standing up and speaking out would lead to pain….
As a woman of a certain age, you may still be afraid of hearing those things.
But you’re also afraid of being called a b—h.
Or the c-word.
I was in a convention hall filled with thousands of other human resources professionals when legendary strengths expert and multi NY Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham told us…
“Leaders are born not made.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
He said the reason Leaders rise to the occasion is because they’re born with the capacity to lead. The circumstances just bring it out.
Lady Gaga was right. You – and I – were born this way.
That’s why you feel this pull in your heart and why you feel it NOW.
Because your very soul is crying out for you to do what you were BORN to do.
And you’ve probably seen it peek out throughout your life.
I was continuously picked for leadership positions in classes, in volunteer activities, and wherever I worked.
In corporate life I was promoted by every employer I worked for.
3 times in 18 months for one of them.
I was sought after for my help, my advice, my opinions. I was assigned to projects, sent out of town, spoke in front of groups (as big as 500), and my potential was even discussed at a board of directors meeting(!).
But part of my success was because I knew how far to push my luck and how to deal with crazy bosses.
I had learned to “dummy up and deal” as we used to say in the casino industry.
In other words I would reach a point at work where I would just shut up rather than keep voicing my opinion and risk being seen as “not a team player.”
In social situations continuously standing up and voicing your opinion means you’re polarizing and you risk repelling people.
But you know what else happens to you?
You die a little inside because you’re out of alignment with your beliefs and values if you DON’T stand up.
Out on our own, we actually NEED to be polarizing.
As crazy as it sounds, we need to attract people who love us and help those who don’t love us to just go on their way.
And I have big news for you – ignoring it won’t make it go away.
You’re called to lead.
The clock is ticking. The calendar pages are turning.
It’s time to take the wheel. It’s time to stand up, stand out, and claim your position as a leader to bring about the change only YOU can create.
When you were conceived, the little seed that was you was gifted with everything you need to fully become what your Creator intended for you to become.
Are you ready to grow into that intention? To share your message with the world? And share it powerfully?
It won’t be easy. But, as one of my bosses told me once “If it was easy everyone would do it.”
And that’s why it’s important to be with others who get you. Who understand what you’re dealing with because they deal with it too. And they’re as committed to their mission as you are to yours.
If you’re ready to courageously lead the change you want to see and make your next big leap in your business journey, comment below with the change you stand for and the mission you’re ready to accept.
Add the hashtag #CourageToLead
And if you know someone else who is ready to step into leadership, share this with them.
You really were born for this.
The world needs you. It’s time.
This is a video I did as a Facebook Live. I have no idea why that opening frame is so scrambled but the rest of the video is just fine.
I share how to deal with and overcome self doubt.
I’ll be doing a bigger, live (free!) training on overcoming and dealing with self-doubt soon. If you’d like to get updates about that, just click this link and add your best email address. You’ll also receive articles, information, tips, resources, and offers to work with me before most others hear about them.
Watch as my friend, Andy Falco Jimenez, and I discuss depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention in this conversation we had on Suicide Prevention Day.
Andy is a former Anaheim California K9 officer who is now an internationally recognized K9 trainer for police and security forces. He also trains “regular” dogs and is a marketing consultant for those who want to leverage technology to grow their businesses.
I share my experience with depression and suicidal thoughts and explain what worked for me.
This post began as a Facebook Live. The original, raw video is below. You can watch it or scroll down to the more organized article I wrote from it.
Like so many of us, I was terribly sad to hear that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, had passed away. She seemed so iconic that she would just live forever.
I’ve spent time watching tributes and videos of her performances and reading some of the articles and commentary about her life and talent.
Here are some lessons and observations about leaving a powerful legacy from what I reviewed about Aretha.
Values. Aretha lived and worked in sync with her values. When she recorded a cover of a Mariah Carey song she left out the lyrics she felt were too risqué and just let the music play. In our corporate or organizational lives, we made sacrifices to keep our jobs. Sometimes we sacrificed values to do that.
Authentic. Brene Brown talks about how being authentic is a choice we make in the moment and every day. We’ve been conditioned to “go along to get along” and need to remember that we don’t have to do that anymore.
Authenticity is a word that’s over-used today but it’s an important concept and quality nonetheless. I think one reason we hate selling and hate being sold to is because too often we’ve bought from someone who fooled us. People who presented themselves and their solution in one way and then after we bought we discovered they were really something else entirely. So choose to be authentic and not worry about what others think.
There’s a great Diet Coke commercial out right now that says something like “whatever you’re into, you’re into.” So yeah…be into being us.
Amplify your message. Aretha had a powerful voice and she used it. She spoke her mind and sang loud and powerfully. Choose the right media to deliver your message and don’t be afraid of being heard.
Believe in yourself. Luciano Pavarotti was scheduled to perform at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998 but was too sick to go on.
The producer ran to Aretha’s dressing room and asked her to go on in his place.
Aretha could have said, “hey, I’m not the Queen of Opera” but she didn’t. She went on and was incredible.
Be confident in your talent and stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to perform.
Embrace video. Be a guest on someone’s show. Do a livestream. Host your own show. Write a book. Teach a course. Let your passion for your topic and for helping others bring your magic out.
Lead with service. I saw Aretha in concert back in the 1990s. I’m so glad I did.
I often think about how performers must get sick of hearing the same old song over and over. I know Billy Joel stopped singing “Just the Way You Are”. So who could blame Aretha if she said she wasn’t going to sing Respect.
But when I saw her, she sang that song as if it was the first time she performed it live.
It was electric.
It seemed as though she reminded herself that for someone in that audience it would be the first time hearing that song live and she knew how important it was to deliver.
When I worked for a casino hotel in Atlantic City, it was one of the things we emphasized in our training. That you might hear the same question over and over in a day (like “where’s the bathroom?”) but it would be that patron’s first time asking it of you so you would have to answer with the same level of courtesy you gave the very first person on your first day of work.
You’ll get sick of talking about your topic way before the audience gets sick of hearing it.
Be a leader. Aretha was a leader in many ways. She didn’t back down from speaking her mind, standing up for herself, and standing up for others. We have to find our voices too and not be afraid to use them.
Yes, some people will be offended and will stop following or responding to us. That’s ok. We’re talking to those who resonate with our message – all of our message.
Having a big email list or list of social media connections isn’t what matters. What matters is we’re talking to people who truly want to hear our message and who will take action based on our message.
One other thing that’s important to remember and will ultimately impact the legacy we leave is that with great power comes great responsibility. While we may not suffer fools lightly – and Aretha certainly didn’t – we must also be kind and respectful of them as well as of ourselves.
You’ve probably heard that “perfect is the enemy of good” and that “done beats perfect” but if you find yourself still obsessing over just the right sentence for that blog post or spend hours searching for the perfect image for your website then you’re likely caught up in the cycle of perfectionism.
And if, like me, you grew up as a professional in corporate life then you probably believe that perfect is always the benchmark you’ll be measured against and it’s what’s expected.
For us “good enough” has never been good enough.
But the truth is we hold ourselves back when we subscribe to that theory.
What exactly is perfectionism?
The best definition of Perfectionism – and the one that got me to recognize the power it had over me – comes from the fabulous Brene Brown in her interview with Oprah for Super Soul Sunday.
According to Dr. Brown, “perfectionism is the 20 ton shield.”
This is because we think “…it’s going to protect us from being hurt; but it protects us from being seen.”
And of course as introverted professionals this is the heart of the matter isn’t it?
We fear being seen as much as we fear not being seen.
And of course we fear rejection – being hurt, when someone doesn’t want what we offer.
It’s so easy to take that rejection personally. Especially when we feel our work is so much a part of our personality.
But that’s a conversation for another day.
There are Two Types of Perfectionism
We can be internally driven perfectionists or externally driven perfectionists. Neither is good.
Internally driven perfectionists drive themselves and sometimes other people crazy.
Externally driven perfectionists not only drive others crazy but they can also drive us away.
The internally driven perfectionist holds ourselves to an impossible to attain standard of performance. And allows our Inner Critic to maintain an ongoing chorus of negativity, telling us that what we’re doing is bad, that no one will be interested in whatever we’re creating, and they certainly don’t want to hear our opinions.
This is often driven by low self-esteem and poor self-acceptance.
Externally driven perfectionists hold everyone else to impossible to attain standards of performance and believe that their way is not just best but it’s the only acceptable way to do anything.
Think of the worst micro-managing jerk you’ve ever worked for and that person was probably an externally driven perfectionist among other things.
How Perfectionism Differs From the Pursuit of Excellence
Striving for excellence in your work comes from a healthy place of wanting to deliver an outstanding outcome for those you serve. You believe in your heart that you’re fully capable of delivering a great outcome for clients and that’s rooted in self-confidence and therefore self-acceptance.
Pursuit of excellence leads to innovation as well as to attention to detail and therefore high quality. It’s motivating for high achievers.
So How Does “Good Enough” Fit In?
You’ve heard gurus repeat the mantra that “good enough is good enough” but I’ll bet you’ve had a hard time accepting it.
As an employee, there was no such thing as “good enough.” Perfect – that’s that was good enough.
And if you came from a work environment or a profession where there really was no margin for error, then you’re going to have a hard time embracing a “good enough” mindset.
Think about it – did you want your paycheck right 85% of the time? Of course not. And even 95% of the time wasn’t acceptable. If you worked in Payroll, it was 100% 100% of the time or you were out .
That kind of conditioning – along with self doubt – contributes to perfectionism out on our own.
We tell ourselves we’re really driven by excellence but it’s not true.
Excellence causes us to stand out while perfectionism allows us to stay hidden.
It’s a difficult dance.
But to achieve our goals of making a big impact and making a great living, we’ve got to resolve this conflict, let go of perfectionism, and embrace the pursuit of excellence.
How Perfectionism Leads to Underachieving
Perfectionism leads to exactly what we don’t want – failure.
And it takes us there in a slow death.
Perfectionism leads to:
And the result is a self-fulfilling prophecy of not achieving our goals and not making the impact we dream of making.
Perfectionism is rooted in poor self-confidence, lack of self-trust, and fear.
In the same Super Soul Sunday conversation, Oprah shares her big aha about perfectionism, that it’s “the ultimate fear. That people who are walking around as perfectionists…they are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they are and they won’t measure up.”
Maybe you can relate to my experience.
In corporate life, I didn’t have to worry about being seen. I worked in very visible jobs in HR and everyone knew me.
You were probably well known too – at least in your corner of the organization among the internal clients you served.
I was confident in my abilities and always landed special projects that leveraged my talents in a way that pushed me but never terrified me.
I felt safe and secure enough to voice my opinion and concerns in meetings and had a strong enough reputation that I didn’t see a mistake as failure. (And luckily neither did my bosses)
But out on our own there’s no safety net.
I struggled to accept and recognize my “corporate pedigree” as my friend JT Ippolito calls the experience and reputation we built in corporate life.
I got caught in that awful fear that I wouldn’t be able to deliver on the promise I was making to clients.
The Road to Success Starts with “Good Enough”
The solution to coming out from our shield of perfectionism involves several elements:
Stop looking outside of yourself for validation. Our self worth isn’t tied to getting a client, writing a great blog post, or anything else. Our friends and family will still love us whether our Facebook posts get engagement or not. And WE have to learn to love ourselves in spite of that too.
Accept Good Enough as the on-ramp to Excellent. When I heard “just put something good enough out there” I really heard “it’s ok to suck.”
But we know that your message and offerings evolve over time and as you start, you perfect your craft and become stronger in your skills.
You can be a fantastic writer, but if you never publish a blog post you’ll never know if any of your ideas make sense or resonate with anyone.
Embrace feedback and get it from a variety of people whose opinions you value. It’s ok to start with people who love you who are gentle in their comments. Then move to people who love you who will give you more constructive advice. The more confident you become you can reach out to people who are even more knowledgeable for their thoughts and opinions. This is why – no matter our profession – we’ve all got to work with a mentor or coach, so we can continue to challenge ourselves.
Detach from the Outcome. This is the single most important element to becoming a recovering perfectionist and striving for true excellence.
I first read about the concept in Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich.
It only took reading this 15 times before the concept finally hit me.
In general, it means f you get upset, angry, or otherwise emotional over anything in business it’s because you’re attached to the outcome. You believe your personal identity or self-worth is tied up in the results somehow.
This is why it’s critical to develop a healthy self-acceptance and ultimately self-love.
Without it, our Inner Critic will convince us that really do suck and we’ll hide our light. The thousands of people we were meant to touch and help will continue to suffer in their own way because we weren’t brave enough to take risks to help them.
Stop believing what your Inner Critic. That’s likely the voice of an abusive parent or boss, or a hypercritical teacher, or some other authority from the past who ruled over you.
Oh it sounds like your voice. But that’s just because it’s your brain reading the Critic’s script.
Stop playing those old movies and stop looking at those old pictures.
Trust yourself with all the faith you had In yourself when you excelled for your employers. Demonstrate your confidence by not taking work you can’t excel at and don’t work for clients you don’t want to have a beer with.
And accept yourself for the fabulously smart, accomplished professional you are and that your clients are lucky to have serving them.
If you wrestle with self-doubt and perfectionism and you’re ready to break free and achieve your most important goals by taking consistent Courageous Action, then come to my workshop and discover how to manage your schedule and move forward with courage and clarity to achieve your goals.
I cried when I learned of Anthony Bourdain’s passing.
He was someone I’d never met and had no expectation to meet.
And yet he was someone I felt like I knew and had traveled with because in some ways I had.
We all had.
I was at my desk working on some project that seemed very important at the time and I could feel the resistance to completing it rising up inside me. The little voice whispered that no one cares what I write about, no one would read it, and no one would take action on it triggered the impulse to go to my favorite hiding place and read the news online.
And there it was – the banner headline screaming out Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61.
For a minute I was speechless.
The little voice inside me shut up and my jaw literally dropped open as I clicked on the Live Now button, sure that this was somehow a mistake and not really understanding why I cared so much about someone who I didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to.
I posted on Facebook to share the announcement.
And then I heard them give the cause of death: Suicide.
I couldn’t listen anymore.
The reporters talking about him were choking up.
I suddenly felt tears welling up in my eyes and felt myself getting warmer.
DO SOMETHING the voice now decided to scream.
And for some reason I felt I had to go on Facebook and share my own thoughts about depression…to confess I had been suicidal in the past and still deal with depression.
The rest of the day I felt sad and struggled to get any significant work done.
There are lessons here for each of us I think; and because we are sense-making creatures I want to share the lessons I see from my perspective. Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below or on the video I aired live on Facebook minutes after I heard of his death.
Be you. I know that’s practically a cliché but it’s true. It’s what people genuinely want. We don’t want you to pretend to be something you’re not. We want to know your thoughts and opinions. We want your perspective on the topic at hand. We want you to share your insight so we can think about our own. And you’re only talking to those who genuinely want to hear your message. Those who don’t can just go elsewhere. Don’t “fake it ‘til you make it;” instead, “act as if” what you want is coming true because it is in fact doing just that.
Be courageous. Mr. Bourdain had thought about writing for what must have felt like a long time when he finally wrote his famous piece for The New Yorker as a freelancer. It took nerve to send that in and they could have passed on it. But they didn’t. And he didn’t allow the voices in his head to convince him it wasn’t good. He didn’t listen to it when it demanded “who are you to think you’re good enough to write a piece for The New Yorker?”
Share your story. Mr. Bourdain didn’t hide the dark side of his life. From his professional struggles to his struggle with drugs, his willingness to acknowledge his past and seemingly move beyond it showed us what was possible. No, maybe we wouldn’t be paid millions to travel the world, eat exotic food, and share stories. But our story – and our history – makes us who we are and makes us relatable to those who need to and want to hear it.
And more than anything else, be willing to share your passion and live a life full of love. Share that love and joy with others.
As painful as it is for us, his fans, it must be indescribably painful for his friends and family, especially his daughter.
We want to know why – why didn’t he get help…why did he feel this was the only way out…why did he do this?
And we tell ourselves stories based on our own experience with depression, with losing someone, with sadness.
The real truth is we can never know the answer. We can only try to understand that each person must walk their own path and make the choices that seem best for them at the time and in the moment.
As Anderson Cooper said in his nice tribute to his friend, “it’s impossible to know what goes on in one person’s heart or head.”
In the days that follow, when others may be triggered and tempted to take the same sort of action, let’s be especially kind – to each other and to ourselves. Let’s remember the power of words to wound and to heal. Let’s remember the powerful impact each of us has on others. And let’s recommit ourselves to live each moment being fully present with those in our lives and to letting others know how much we care for and love them so no one ever doubts they matter or that help is just a click , text, or call away.
Consultants often help clients solve problems the consultant has solved in the past for a previous employer.
A great example, is multiple New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and consultant Mike Michalowicz.
In an interview I did with him for my show, The Courageous Entrepreneur, he explained how those early experiences formed his mission to “eradicate entrepreneurial poverty.”
His journey perfectly illustrates the intention to “make your mess your mission.”
Helping others avoid or overcome something that brought you to your knees can become a driving force in your life. So much so, that you want to build a business around it.
The emotional drive to do this work is often so powerful it can feel as though you’re answering a calling.
And it may be that you are.
Humans are sense-making animals and looking for deeper meaning in our suffering is a common way to do that.
I also believe with all my heart that each of us is put on this planet for a reason and gifted with purpose and a series of missions. (That’s right. I think we have more than one mission in our lifetime. Our mission changes. Our purpose never does.)
I believe the abuse I suffered as a child and as an adult, combined with complications from my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) all happened because I was charged with the responsibility to help me help others deal with the emotional fallout from their own traumas and trials.
So if you’re thinking about how to help others and “do well by doing good” by making your mess your mission, here are the steps to build a business around your that while helping others triumph as well:
Many of us have faced truly devastating problems and it can be hard to move past the raw emotions of them.Talking through your story or practicing a presentation or an explanation of what you did to overcome your mess can help you bring those emotions under control.
My TBI includes an injury to the area of the brain that manages emotional regulation. That meant it was really hard for me to control my emotions – I’d cry if something just touched my heart and I’d sound furious when I was just mildly annoyed.So be sure you do the work you need to do to be able to talk about your journey and maintain control over your emotions.
It’s perfectly fine to get choked up or have your voice quiver but if your emotions are still so raw that they’re hard to control, it can be too easy for people to get caught up in the overflow of emotions.
It can easily become a money pit if you don’t start out with alot of clarity. So be sure to do lots of reflecting to discern your next step.There are ways you can test the waters and begin to get your message out as you work to understand what God’s calling you to do while you deepen your understanding of how to best help others overcome what you went through.
You can start a blog or join a blogging platform like Medium as a way to start to tell your story and share your point of view. This can give you some insight into what people are drawn to and can help you begin to build an audience and a web presence as you develop your message and key elements of your message.
Don’t make yourself crazy by trying to identify your ideal client first. You need to start by getting clarity on your message and start getting that message out. You’ll begin to discover who resonates with the message.You can also try your hand at speaking, appear on some podcasts dedicated to your topic, or do some volunteer work to help you clarify your direction.
I’m a big believer in journaling as a way to deeply reflect on your thoughts and next steps. It helps you capture those brilliant ideas in one place to refer to later.
List out the steps you took. My preferred way of doing this is to brainstorm in a notebook or journal, then use Post-it® notes. I stick them on a blank wall or – my new favorite thing – on a tri-fold display board. You know…the sort of thing used for a science fair project?
Here’s a picture of one of mine. I’ve got three I’m working on right now.
Once you have your thoughts laid out, look for ways to communicate them simply.
I like summarizing steps into a single word when I can, like I did for the Healing Journey.Once that’s done, break the individual steps into their own processes.
Asking yourself questions like “What did I do to move from one step to the next?” can help you remember and begin to document them.
Then consider how you can you create a worksheet with the steps written as questions you asked yourself. You want to build the process into a series of exercises to help people work through the steps on their own.
Working with a coach can help you get clarity on your message including your foundational beliefs, point of view (POV), and identifying your steps. Often we’re too close to our own situation to be able to spot all the things we did to find our solution.Another mistake is we get caught up in trying to come up with something clever or that uses a play on words to communicate the elements of our message.
People are in a hurry and may not get your message.
When I feel myself getting stuck on naming and word choice, I remind myself of the famous quote by advertising legend, David Ogilvy – “Be clear, not clever.”
Frameworks are the elements that support the effective achievement of the model.
It’s easy to create a framework that you don’t want to use when you ignore your personality type and strengths and try to just cut and paste the same framework some (extroverted) guru used.
One great way to get started is to create a list of other professionals that serve your potential clients and begin networking with them. Put together a list of questions to ask them including questions to help you learn about them and what they do.
Offer to help them in some way so they can get to know, like, and trust you.
For example, you could introduce them to someone you know who could help them or who may want to work with them.You could offer to write a blog post or speak to their subscriber list or group they manage.
It’s easy to feel needy and anxious about getting clients; but no one wants to deal with someone who’s needy and we don’t make good decisions when we come from a needy place.
Remember, you’ve achieved great things and have something outstanding to offer others.You can market yourself with courage and confidence when you come from a place of love, believing in the value of the outcome you provide.
A recent episode of my podcast, The Courageous Entrepreneur Show, featured an interview with Patti DeNucci discussed how to be an “intentional networker.”
Our conversation really focused on offline networking.
As someone who’s focused on creating a business that supports me and supports the lifestyle I want, I’ve found that online networking is more powerful for me. Patti’s tips and strategies are powerful for any networking you’re doing but I wanted to really concentrate this week’s After Show episode, on practical how-to’s for online networking using social media and social networking sites.
Keep in mind, this information is intended to be broad and not specific to particular platform.
I record the After Show live on Facebook, then download the videos. You can watch the recording of that below here or you can read the slightly more organized and more detailed article version of the video below the recording.
Hope you find the information useful and be sure to leave a question or comment.
To watch the video, click the white triangle in the center of the image.
After my car accident in 1999, I knew I never wanted to go back to a traditional job.
If there was anyway I could build a successful career as a freelancer or solo professional I wanted to figure out how to do it.
Part of that commitment to myself has been wanting to build something lifestyle driven. I wanted to be able to work from anywhere.
I’m now completely virtual.
There are pros and cons to that but I’ve created relationships around the world with colleagues and clients. And all of my marketing – much of which is done through creating and sharing content on my website and social platforms – is now online.
And a big piece of that marketing involves networking.
If you’re an introverted entrepreneur like I am maybe you can relate to the thought of live networking…going to events…making small talk and eating rubber chicken….and having to deal with aggressive sales people who want to get contract from you before dessert is served….as just exhausting.
And to be honest…it’s depressing.
I’m all for developing true relationships. Ones that are respectful where each person gets to know the other and what we offer.
Where we honestly make clear what we offer and who that’s right for and if the person we’re talking to feels what we offer is great and right then we explain how they can take action.
No fake “connection calls” that are secret sales calls.
No “let me help you with that” conversations that are in fact calls to convince you to hire the person.
So here re my best tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your online networking efforts.
Define success. We complain about networking not working but like anything in life we need to start with a clear definition of success. So whether you’re thinking about a single Zoom call you plan to have with your connection or you’re joining a group on LinkedIn or Facebook, take the time to clearly identify and paint a picture of what you want to achieve and what it will take for you to feel that your time was well spent. Create a picture of what you want and what successful online networking looks and feels like for you. Make sure you’re talking about online networking positively and not In a way that emphasizes the “working” part.
Build networking into your schedule. For me, online networking is marketing. So I budget time into my day and week to do that. This helps me manage my time and not get sucked in to spending hours watching cat videos or reading my news feed. I plan my week in detail, plan my days, and manage my time in 15 minute blocks. It’s not perfect and some days go off the rails for various reasons but this works for me more often than not. (If you’ve been telling yourself you want to do a better job managing your time in general and truly getting your projects done then download my calendars. These 81/2 by 11 pages are ones I created myself because I couldn’t find any planners that worked for me.
Look for referral partners NOT clients. This is the single biggest tip I can give you and it’s THIS approach that makes my efforts positive. I know you want more clients. I also know you hate chasing them and feeling salesy. When WE’RE the potential client we hate being chased or feeling chased. So don’t do it. Instead, identify the professionals your best clients also use and cultivate networks of those professionals. Help them to understand who you serve, how your clients benefit from the work you do, and why you’re an expert. Then cultivate those relationships to generate referrals. This shift in focus – away from client getting and toward relationship building – changed my experience and results more than anything else. Who is out there that would fill gaps in your virtual rolodex? Who do YOUR clients and connections need to know? What services do they tell you they have a hard time finding providers? Who compliments but doesn’t compete with you?
Identify and join the right groups for you. Networking in groups is how I meet people and develop relationships. I do that with the strategies below. My goal is to position myself as a smarty, to reveal my personality so people get a feel for what it would be like to work with me, and to help people see I’d be valuable to know. I invite people to connection calls with me to learn about each other and see if there’s a possibility to potentially refer to each other. How to find groups is the stuff of a whole separate post and I may write that at some point but it’s not appropriate here. But you can start by asking yourself where are bunches of potential referral partners? If you can’t find a group create one.
Follow group and platform rules and norms. Some groups have rules around what gets posted and shared. Be respectful. Don’t try to poach members. Remember, look for referral partners not clients.
Share great content. I know people who complain that social networking doesn’t work for them but they don’t post anything other than pictures of their pets, their kids, or pictures of them with a cocktail in their hand with a rant about what a rough week it’s been. If you’re going to use social media to build your brand as a professional and attract referral partners and potentially clients, then it’s critical to be strategic about what you share. And I don’t want to hear that you share different stuff with personal connections. You never know who knows who and connections you see as personal or family could very well know someone they could refer to you but if you’re constantly complaining about your existing clients I doubt anyone is going to feel good about referring more to you. Share 80% to 90% useful information that positions you as an in-the-know authority and then share 10% to 20% of personal stuff that’s positive in nature. Save the rants for individual messages to friends. Better yet…stop ranting and create the results you want.
Maintain contact and build relationships / stay top of mind and be visible. Social media and individual social networking platforms are about relationship building. Perfect for the introverted professional like us. BUT. You want to maintain contact by posting content but also by reaching out to individuals to say hi and check in with them. Those algorithms are always changing so your messages are likely not getting to even 50% of your connections. So periodically go into your list of connections, visit their page, Like and / or comment on the posts to let them know you’re still out there. And it messes with those algorithms which I just love to do ?
No sales sneak attacks. At some point you’re going to recognize people who would be or could be good potential clients for you. They may seem to be dealing with a problem you solve or otherwise showing signs they need you. If you want to have a marketing conversation with someone where your intention is to learn more about their problem to decide if you and they would be a good potential fit so you can make them n offer, then admit that to yourself and to them. You can simply say “I noticed you’re struggling with _________. This is actually what I help my clients with. I’m happy to take _____ minutes and answer a few questions to help you _________. If after we chat you’d like to know about how to work with me I’m happy to fill you in.” Don’t tell them you’d like to chat or that you want to help them and then make it one big pitch about you and your services. (This has happened to me and I really don’t like or appreciate it.)
Don’t keep score. Networking is all about relationship building and giving. One person may not come into contact with many of your potential ideal clients and another may. Someone may have another professional they refer to regularly and they think of you as a back up referral. Don’t make up stories about why they don’t refer to you. Take responsibility for being a good connection and keeping in touch. Learn about them and how you can help. Think of the other person first. Trust the process and trust that the Universe will reward you.
Treat people with respect and kindness. This probably goes without saying but I always feel compelled to remind us all. When we’re stressed and caught up in lack thinking we don’t come across as our best selves. So remember, always assume others come from a good place and are busier than you are. Share their stuff and engage with their content. Leave recommendations and praise for them (that’s what I call “spreading positive gossip”). Engage in real conversations – whether in exchanging comments on posts or in connection calls.
Networking is like farming: You find the best place to plant quality seeds. Then you provide the best conditions for those seeds to grow and reach their full potential so you can collect the harvest at the appropriate time.
Have you seen positive results from your online networking efforts? Which of these ideas I shared will you try?
Andy Falco Jimenez shared in our interview for The Courageous Entrepreneur podcast how he struggled with owning his expertise and the problems that led to for him, his business, and his family when he first started Falco K9 Academy.
I did a big blog post about this whole of idea of “owning your expertise” which is such an important element in positioning and pre-selling yourself as an independent professional.
Andy struggled with admitting to himself that he was an expert. That led him to under-price his offerings.
I’ll bet you can relate — especially if you’re an introverted person who’s always played a behind-the-scenes role.
We were taught not to toot our own horn because we didn’t want to come across as too big for our britches (does that sound familiar?).
Some of us even heard hurtful statements like we’re stupid….or we’re worthless…or we’re never going to amount to anything.
That old adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me” was a lie frankly.
Words hurt much more than “sticks and stones.”
Andy was right though; you don’t want to call yourself an expert because you know how you roll your eyes when someone else calls themselves an expert.
The key is to demonstrate your expertise so others see it and they call you an expert.
You give people a sample of what it would be like to work with you. Andrea J. Lee, who’s considered the coach’s coach, coined the phrase “pink spoon marketing” to describe this idea. She equates sharing useful content this way to how an ice cream parlor will give you a little taste of a flavor knowing you’ll then order a cone, a pint, or even a half-gallon. And if you really like what they offer you’ll continue to come back for more, making that little sample they gave a way a great investment.
You communicate your POV or point of view. Sharing your beliefs, values, philosophy, and approach helps you and your message really resonate with those you want to serve while gently repelling those who don’t get you. If you hate having sales conversations this is a great way to start having fewer but hearing more yeses. I love hearing “I watched your show and know you’re the only person who can help me.”
It makes it easy for people to do your marketing for you. When you produce great, targeted content and distribute it on platforms that your best audience is likely to find and consume it, you also make it easy for them to share with others in their community. Of course you need to include a request to do that as a way to help them remember. Good potential clients are likely to know other good potential clients. I recently got a new client who initially found me from a shared video on Facebook.
Use Video (my preferred method because it’s so powerful) – Record videos where you share tips, answer questions you’re frequently asked, etc.
Be interviewed – You can and should look for opportunities to appear on podcasts, livestream shows, get quoted in traditional as well as digital media, etc. Create a list of potential topics and post them on a Media page on your site.
Write a book – I know. It seems like just about everyone is self-publishing these days. And many do a bad job. But that’s not a reason for you to not do it. Writing a book is one of those things that nearly everyone dreams of doing but a small percentage actually do. And when it’s done well, it really does position you as an authority and makes it easy for others to see that about you.
Blog or Vlog – One of the most powerful ways to clarify your message – while building an audience – is to regularly produce articles or posts where you share those ideas. I know that can be hard. You’re afraid of making mistakes or saying the wrong thing; but it’s the only way to fine tune that message and understand your own beliefs and POV.
Host a show yourself. This is a big commitment but when you do it, few things position you as an expert as fast. One reason is because you’re consistently putting out high value information.
Speak. I can hear you groaning. Whether you’re starting out speaking at rubber chicken dinners or you’re ready to do bigger events like conferences, this instantly positions you as an expert because no group is going to invite (or pay) a dope to get up and speak in front of their audience. I have a broad definition of speaking though and I include “being interviewed” in here too.
Teach. Considering it takes about 8 hours of preparation time for every single hour of teaching time, you’re going to become an expert in your subject through preparing for your workshop. Teaching is a fantastic way to quickly position and pre-sell yourself as an authority, and you don’t need to have a big list to do it. You can do free or low-cost workshops locally. This is actually how I got started. It’s also a great confidence builder.
If you’re a mission-driven, introverted expert looking for ways to get your message to a bigger audience and ultimately to attract more clients for your services or buyers for your books and programs then demonstrating your expertise is a great way to reduce the feeling that it’s all about you.
Remember, it’s really all about the audience. Sharing great, useful content is a powerful way to educate them while elevating yourself in their eyes. This makes it easier to inspire them to take action and invite them to work with you. And that’s all sales really is.
How are you demonstrating your expertise? And what’s holding you back from doing it if you’re not currently sharing great content. Share your thoughts below.
Andy developed his expertise through his career as a K9 unit officer with the Anaheim (CA) police department and traveled the country sharing his knowledge with other departments.
We talked about his journey as an accidental entrepreneur from being forced to retire after a second head injury sustained in an accident while on duty to building a full time dog training business.
One of the things he shared was how he nearly lost his house because he wasn’t good at managing the business end of the business.
He really struggled with two things that are deeply connected – owning his expertise and pricing his services to reflect that expertise.
I don’t know anyone – especially a coach or consultant who considers themselves “mission-driven” – who finds those two things easy.
In this week’s episode of my podcast’s “After Show”, I discussed the issue of owning our expertise:
The After Show is done as a Facebook Live event. You can watch the video of that posted here or you can read the more organized and detailed post below it.
In our recent interview, successful dog trainer Andy Falco Jimenez, shared his entrepreneur’s journey. One of the things we talked about was the struggle to fully own his expertise. That struggle led him to undercharge for his services and cave in to any pushback from potential clients.
That caused his revenue and cash flow to suffer so much he nearly lost his house.
A meeting with a local SCORE volunteer helped him to recognize the problem and take immediate action to fix it.
As I edited Andy’s episode in preparation to air it this issue of “owning your expertise” kept rolling around in my head and I could see it was a big problem I’ve struggled with and those I’ve worked with have struggled with.
Andy nailed it when he talked about how none of us wants to sound like an arrogant jerk and he believed that by saying he was an expert he’d repel people rather than attract them.
Because no one wants to work with an arrogant jerk.
And yet, each of us is working to become the go-to expert in our field for our best clients; right?
And we all know that we want to work with an expert to solve whatever problem we have, whether it’s a plumbing problem at our home or a business problem we’re trying to solve.
We understand the value of being seen as an expert. We just don’t want to call ourselves one.
At least not in public and not in conversation.
So what do you do? And how to you “own” your expertise?
Let’s start by defining the concept.
I loved that response and I do think it’s part of it. Even when we can feel like the voice crying in the wilderness sometimes.
Part of owning your expertise is consistently getting your message out and embracing your point of view (POV).
Let’s address the issue of calling yourself an expert and being seen as arrogant.
If you’ve ever worked with someone who constantly bored you with stories of their achievements you understand very well how the person who does this sounds like an arrogant jerk.
Since you don’t want to be thought of as an arrogant jerk, your brain is going to actively hold you back from taking any action that fits its definition of “arrogant jerk” behavior.
Unfortunately, our brains tend to go to the extreme; meaning, it will hold you back from doing anything that in its wisdom it believes could lead you to thinking you’re an arrogant jerk.
This is called Cognitive Dissonance and it’s a psychological concept that says the brain can’t hold conflicting thoughts about the same thing at the same time.
The downside is you end up taking outrageous steps to prove to yourself that you’re not in any danger of being seen as an arrogant jerk.
But it ends up keeping you from fully positioning yourself as the expert and go-to professional you want to be.
Owning your expertise means acting in a way that’s consistent with the way experts act.
Each of us has a slightly different definition of what that means.
How you act is a demonstration of your beliefs (one of what I cal the 6 Pillars of Success btw).
Most of us have been raised hearing that it was wrong to toot our own horn…that we shouldn’t celebrate our successes because it makes others feel bad…
Some of us were raised hearing even worse things: that we’re stupid….that we’ll never amount to anything.
Hearing those things long enough – especially as children – they become beliefs.
These beliefs will eat away at us, even as we see external evidence of our intelligence and expertise we won’t believe and fully own it until we can recognize those statements are not true and they’re not even our statements. They’re statements from our past that continue to haunt us.
The answer is to owning your expertise is to connect your mind and beliefs with external evidence of your expertise.
So you’re going to DEMONSTRATE your expertise so OTHERS are able to point to you and label you the expert…the go-to person.
Here are 7 ways to own your expertise.
Narrow your focus. When you’re trying to do too many things and serve too many people, it’s almost impossible to be a true expert. People can’t see you as the go-to expert for one thing and when it’s too hard for them to fit you in a bucket or in a file folder in their head, they just dismiss you. It’s easy to let your fear of missing out or fear of making a mistake keep you from narrowing your focus. But as soon as you say “I work exclusively with..” or “I specialize in…” people will start to see you as an expert.
Organize your work and elements of your POV into a system and brand it and the pieces. Doing this alone helps you stand out but it helps make you memorable. This is really why we work hard to create a brand – to position ourselves in the mind of others and make it easy for them to remember us.
Create and brand packages of your services. This again, makes it easy to remember you but it also helps people get their head around what they’re buying when they work with you. It helps turn your offerings into “things” without commoditizing your offerings. This also makes it easier for you to talk about your “thing” and takes the spotlight away from you as a person.
Demonstrate your expertise. When I was in high school, the prevailing message around team sports and activities was no trash-talking. You were to demonstrate your greatness on the field or on the stage, you didn’t proclaim your greatness. So that’s the same mindset to embrace here. How you demonstrate that expertise can vary but the focus should be on things that:
Leverage Past Success. We all started learning and honing our KSAs somewhere. You’ve gotten praise and compliments from others. You’ve had clients – or past employers – who you’ve done “it” for and who have achieved a range of results. You can create case studies, use testimonials. This is the sort of social proof that shows someone you can produce results. One key here is to leverage past successes that allow your ideal clients see themselves in your past successes. Sharing past successes is a great way to demonstrate your expertise.
Manage your boundaries. This can be tricky because we’ve all been taught to be service-oriented and kind to others.
For years you worked at places that in all likelihood encouraged team work.
The places where I worked seemed to define teamwork as stopping what you’re doing to help the person who came to your door (because of course we had an open-door policy).
But experts are often not easy to get an appointment with.
I know you want to be helpful but if you’re already working 12-hour days, then dropping whatever you’re working on to take time for a meeting is only going to force you to work longer hours.
Reflect on this and see if you’re being too accommodating in your scheduling. (this might require you to confront lots of things about your schedule).
Pricing and Packaging. Andy talked quite a bit about pricing and admitted this caused him a lot of problems early on. It was a big part of why he was facing foreclosure.
I could go on for pages about pricing (you’ll be glad to know I’m not going to though). But the big points we made in the interview were that you have to price in a way that supports your business and your life.
You got into business to create a great “whole” life for yourself, didn’t you?
I know I did.
I dreamed of being able to give my siblings great gifts and treating them to special experiences I wanted to have with them.
I dream(ed) of starting a scholarship at the high school I graduated from to support students who want additional education but who had lost a parent and were struggling financially.
I dream of fully supporting my family — husband and 3 cats – so my husband can stop working or cut back as soon as he decides he wants to.
That takes charging in a way that fully covers the costs of my business, pays for continued professional development and business development, but that also funds my private life including savings, insurance, and services I’d like to have (like getting a massage a few times a month, having a personal assistant and other things).
Another point Andy made was that he went into business to do “it” – in his case training dogs. But he only spent a very small amount of time doing “it.”
He spent more time with all the stuff that he didn’t enjoy that he really didn’t like, wasn’t good at, was never going to get good at, and had no interest in doing.
That means you’ve got to price in a way that allows you to hire help.
When I interviewed Mike Michalowicz he said the most important thing for a solo professional who wants to build an expert brand needs to do is hire help as fast as possible. (Check out that great interview at this link) In a recent live event, personal development legend Jack Canfield said the same thing – get help as fast as you can.
That list might seem overwhelming but the biggest obstacle preventing you from owning your expertise is you and your beliefs.
You are an expert. It’s time to believe it. To acknowledge the evidence that proves it. To fully own it.
Did I miss something? What do you believe helps you own your expertise?