Are you the real ‘you’?
Last week I completed a 5-day challenge with the frankly fabulous Lisa Barry, looking at Mission Led Content and how to create it for our business.
There have been numerous insights during the week which I am putting into action, some already in place, but one thing I found intriguing was the number of ladies in the group who are afraid to put themselves out there.
To be ‘them’.
To let their business reflect themselves.
But I get it. I’ve been there, I still am to an extent.
Lisa’s mantra is ‘be courageously visible’. I think that says it all.
Are you putting yourself out there? The real you? If not, why?
A work in progress
I struggled with this for a long time as I felt I was expected to be someone else. I was not good enough. I was not meeting others expectations. I was not who they wanted. But at the same time, I never felt sure who that person was that I was supposed to be.
I was an imposter with imposter syndrome.
I was so wrapped up in trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be, and in some cases told me I had to be, that I lost all sense of my identity. The only people to see the real, daft me were my partner and family, and the occasional friend I felt very comfortable with. And still, it had become sporadic.
But becoming self-employed has changed all that. I have found the confidence to be myself and rediscovered the ‘me’ that was locked away. Tight. In a tomb. I have released it, bunny hat and slippers and all.
As HAMYAW advise in their podcast episode ‘Should You be Yourself Online?’ – think about who you are and where your market is. There is a line. You should not set out to offend, and there are certain behaviours you shouldn’t put out there. The content you are putting out should still be relevant to your work and message. What do they need to know or hear? (Seriously – check these ladies out anyway, they are a perfect example of successfully being yourself in your work – personality, honesty and expertise all rolled into one).
What I am getting at here is about being comfortable in the you that you are putting out there. But also ensuring that your potential clients are too.
But is personality wanted in business?
The people have spoken.
You only have to go on any social media to see conversations about this, with the answer being a resounding ‘Yes!’ We want personality in all its quirky glory.
Think about it. As you scroll by on Linked In, Twitter or whatever social media is your poison, what are you most likely to stop and look at? And engage with?
I am much, much more likely to engage with something with humour and personality. Someone who seems to be speaking to me. Yes, that means I can get distracted by a clever GIF or a cat meme, but I do read content. A lot of it. Daily.
I can certainly name some companies where it is not appreciated – but they are not your people then. Your ideal client.
Having personality doesn’t mean that you cannot talk about business, not at all. It is about making it conversational. Write as you would talk. Talk as you would over a brew, in the comfort of your home.
You can still be an expert in your field, and seen as professional, whilst being you.
If anything, when self-employed this should be easier, as you are no longer having to fit within a company’s culture, voice and set expectations. However, it is also scarier as it is all on you. And the fear of a customer not responding well could mean the difference between living on spaghetti hoops for a month, or caviar and canapés. To be fair, I’d always go for the sc’oops.
Sounds interesting. So, what’s the catch?
I don’t do catches.
What if, putting your personality out there gained you MORE customers, more work, some amazing testimonials. Could it be worth the risk?
I have seen the benefits of putting yourself out there.
- I have got clients highly engaged in the work and feeling that they can approach me. Not afraid to ask questions or make suggestions.
- Clients being more open to negotiation (on time scales and such).
- Oodles of recommendations being passed onto their networks and jobs coming to me through word of mouth.
- I am getting lots of repeat work. To the point that I have not actually had to actively look for any yet.
I say again – hell yes!</>
And you know what, I also think that it shows in the work. I am more relaxed and so more open to experimenting, to getting feedback, to discussing my ideas. The projects I have taken on have expanded and I have taken on more responsibilities than I was initially hired for.
I am hungry to learn more again. I lost that for a while, but boy is it back. The learning is translating into my work. My skills are expanding exponentially.
I am content. Excited. Growing.
So where do you start?
If you are feeling the same as I was, here are some tips on how I have done it.
1. Try new things
Never did I think I would be about to publish a third journal article or would be contributing to a weekly blog accountability project. Or writing a book (two in fact). But I am doing all those things and more.
The more I have put myself out there, the more I have grown in confidence and am willing to experiment.
2. Find your voice
My blog posts are undoubtedly me.
I purposely chose a non-work theme for #write52 for two reasons – as I am writing industry-related content elsewhere all day for my ‘proper work’ projects, it is nice to do something different with my downtime and share my other passions. Secondly, I thought it would give me the freedom to try new things.
As with anything: practice, practice, practice.
As a result, I have had continual feedback that my content is engaging and people seem to be appreciating getting to know me. People buy from people after all.
I still have some work to do on refining my voice and my writing, but it is out there, in all its Bolton-accented glory.
3. Do some test posts
I did a few test bits here and there in fairly hidden away places, such as Facebook groups. The reaction was great, so I built on it. And with it built my confidence. The more I am ‘me’ the more I have garnered a response from my online community.
So I keep going, one small step at a time.
4. Find your peeps
I found a few groups online who not only give me some sense of company in my day but also are a sounding board, a cheerleading crew and always willing to help. It is important to find these people as a work from home imprisoned person.
The amount of recommendations on books, courses, websites, podcasts, webinars, professional bodies that I get from these groups alone is amazing.
Facebook groups and 5 day challenges are also a great place to start playing with your content and being brave. Everyone is in the same boat so there is little embarrassment, and you have a willing, supportive audience.
5. Find the balance
As I stated earlier, you don’t want to piss people off or offend them. So try and look at what you are going to say or post from all angles before making it public.
That said, it is amazing how people can find offence in the most ridiculous things these days, so don’t worry too much if something ugly does rear its head. They will soon move on.
Think about the language are you comfortable using but that also reflects you and how you talk.
What are your values, and are they reflected in your business? Use them.
6. Ask for testimonials
Do not be too shy to ask for testimonials – and to share them. It is not bragging, it is sharing your expertise. Or something like that.
I have only started doing this recently and it is a great little confidence booster, and also has the added bonus of showing you regularly that you are bloody marvellous.
And they will often reflect your personality too with the way your customers write about you, or state outright you are a loon. A clever one who knows their stuff, but a loon no less.
7. Consider self-employment
Okay, so this is a biggie and might not be possible for a lot of people, but this terrifying step has been a game-changer for me. A life-changer.
I can be me. I can manage my work. I have the flexibility that I need for other aspects of life. I enjoy work again, and I am proud.
Proud of myself, my company and my achievements.
And I am courageously putting that out there.
If you need help finding your purpose, passion or how to tell your story, I highly recommend Lisa’s 5-day challenges and, if you are up to the commitment, her longer mentor group. I have only just joined this, but she has even managed to get me to create 2 videos.
I know, right?
I hate them, with a passion. At least I think I do.
Anyways, she has an amazing knack for looking at the blurb that fell out of your brain and helping you make sense of it. And kicking you up the butt to put yourself out there as the real you.
Check her out on Facebook.