Sharing photos of yourself online. Advertising your ideas, opinions (especially the controversial ones) and results. Owning your line in the sand. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. Publicly claiming your calling or mission. Reaching out to people you’d love to work with. It can be A LOT.
Let’s be real: putting yourself out there can be scary shit. Visibility triggers vulnerability for so many of us women entrepreneurs. And that’s scary because vulnerability means we care, in a world where being seen to care is often read as decidedly uncool.
No matter where you’re at, getting a schedule packed with fantastic 1-1 clients is likely to involve putting yourself out there somehow. Even more so if your business is online. It’s just something you can’t get around – especially if you’re a coach or freelancer serious about being fully booked.
I know from personal experience how putting yourself out there can trigger self-doubt, total inaction and a mental mixed tape of ‘this is probably the stupidest thing ever’, ‘what if people laugh at me?’, ‘who am I to do this?’ playing 24/7. Sound familiar?
When it comes to your business, stressing about putting yourself out there can manifest as: never pressing publish on your website, your latest blog post, or your ‘about’ page; or never starting that podcast you *want* to set up. It can mean never sharing your true voice or opinions, never reaching out to a potential mentor OR A POTENTIALLY AWESOME CLIENT, never letting your community see you sweat, never submitting that guest post, never making that offer. And – I bet you already know – it does nothing but slow us down and keep our dreams out of reach.
Believe me, I get it. Like I mentioned the other day, when I first started Betty Means Business, there were no pics of me on the website and only a 2 sentence bio hidden at the bottom of a random page. I didn’t even have an Instagram account until my coach at the time challenged me to set one up. (These days I LOVE Instagram!)
The tricky thing is that creative work (and I believe being in business for yourself is absolutely a defiant act of creation and creativity!) is very personal. Put ourselves out there and we’re asking people to consume, connect with, enjoy and respond to our personal creativity. Add to that an economic imperative (our livelihood is on the line, after all) and things can get serious. It’s scary as fuck.
It’s enough to make even the most confident, extroverted babes among us want to run and hide. The only problem is, if you want to do the work you were born to do, make the impact you were born to do, and be fully booked in your business, at some point you’re gonna have to put yourself out there in some way.
Standing out is scary AND also something you must do if you’ve ever dreamt of being a fully booked leader in your field.
Of course, we all already know that fear doesn’t go away. No matter how qualified or established you are, if you’re growing your business there’s always a new frontier to conquer that’ll stretch your ever-growing comfort zone. But when you bust through whatever worries you may have around putting yourself out there and finally go for it, I promise, you won’t believe the exhilaration you feel when you smash it!
So here are 7 tips that have helped me take the leap and put myself out there in bigger ways:
Keep it in perspective
Did you know that Darwin waited 34 YEARS to publish his idea that humans evolved from monkeys? By many reports, he was conflicted and terrified about putting his ideas out there. He’d been born into a culture steeped in creationist thinking. He knew his theories would outrage the church he’d grown up in. He was worried about the reaction of his peers and potential ridicule/persecution. His ideas about evolution would rock the world. Many historians believe the potential repercussions of putting himself out there is the reason why Darwin hesitated sharing his convictions for decades on a big scale.
Apparently, during those 30+ years, Darwin talked about his ideas with many, many people 1-on-1; he got people to make copies of his manuscript a couple of times; he even left a letter to his wife asking her to publish Origin in the event of his death… He BELIEVED in his ideas – but didn’t get around to putting himself out there in a big way and actually publishing his work for all to see for bloody ages!
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever hesitated about putting yourself out there, don’t worry… you’re in great company! ALSO: In comparison with what Darwin was grappling with, me putting myself out there – even sharing my most controversial ideas ever – isn’t a big deal.
Anytime I catch myself procrastinating putting myself out there I think to myself: ‘In comparison with what Darwin was dealing with, this is nothing. Get on with it!’
(BTW Some people argue that Darwin’s delay was actually due to his workload and not procrastination or fear of potential repercussions… but seriously, you and I both know that when it comes to our OWN workloads: we always manage to get the easy stuff done and are way more likely to put off the comfort-zone-stretching stuff that involves us putting ourselves out there!)
Think about regret
Anytime I’m hesitating about putting myself out there, asking ‘What would happen if I DIDN’T put myself out there?’ helps.
Often my answer goes one of 2 ways:
1) Nothing good. Without putting myself out there my dreams will stay just that. My vision will stay a distant glow on the horizon and never get closer. (How depressing is that!)
2) I’d somehow end up doing it anyway. It may take me longer and/or more fucking around, but I can’t imagine a scenario where I don’t put myself out there on this issue in the end because I CAN’T NOT. I believe so strongly in my opinion/ideas/message/mission that I may as well just get on with it. Because wasting time is sooooo frustrating.
Whatever version your exact response, I bet, like me, you’ll find this question really clarifying and a great way to reset your perspective.
On waiting for perfection
Seriously, just don’t. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that things DON’T need to be perfect to generate massive results. Don’t be like me. Aim for genuine, brilliant and helpful over perfect. Then put it out there and test the result yourself.
Make it about your message, not about you
If like me, the spotlight feels uncomfortable, the key is to get purposeful and focus on promoting YOUR MESSAGE rather than yourself. I’ve found this approach makes getting visible feel so.much.easier.
If you’re waiting on something you can’t quite put your finger on or are paralysed by ‘who am I to…’ thoughts, remember: there’s no test you need to pass or qualification you need to get to give yourself permission to share your message and contribute. We don’t ever need to wait for external validation or permission. If there’s any ‘secret to success’ it’s that the only person who needs to give you permission to do/say/believe/be anything is YOU.
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.” – Steve Jobs
Make it a habit
I know you can see the business-building potential of putting yourself out there more. It’s a critical factor in being fully booked (and light years more important to the success of your business than getting another qualification).
I reckon that so often bringing our dreams to life comes down to habit, and consistently repeating THE RIGHT small daily actions over and over – rather than haphazardly taking random, overwhelming leaps.
That’s why this year I’m committed to putting myself out there once a day. Want to join me? I’d love you to!
Need some inspiration to get started? You could:
:: Apply for an award.
:: Email someone you’d love to work with.
:: Make a video of yourself sharing your story and vision. Email it to everyone on your subscriber list.
:: Challenge yourself to share your message publicly daily.
:: Add personal photos and more of your story to your About Page.
:: Create your author/speaker bio so it’s ready to go.
:: Add a personal picture and story to your social media platforms.
:: Actually introduce yourself in FB groups you’re a part of.
:: Submit a guest post proposal.
:: Share valuable help (a tip, a process, a lesson you’ve learnt etc) AND your message in an online community.
:: Pitch yourself for an interview.
One more thing: Be smart
I’m super personal security focused, and when I first started this blog, my worrying about personal security was one of the reasons I found putting myself out there more of a challenge.
Be smart and stay safe. You DON’T have to disclose anything you don’t want to. Don’t share your home address or private contact details. Never share stuff like your social security or medicare numbers or bank details.
You never have to engage with anyone who’s being an asshole towards you online. Whatever they’re doing has and says way more about them than you. And it’s completely fine to have a strong one-strike policy (or whatever policy feels right to you) of deleting comments and blocking trolls or anyone being negative if you want.
I hope these tips inspire you to take action and put yourself out there today! I’d love to hear how you go!