Do you emphasise your responsibilities, rather than showcasing your accomplishments? If someone told you that your story was inspirational, would your initial response be to shrug it off? Unless you are one of the women who has unlocked the key to success - big success - you are likely nodding. Or, thinking long and hard about the last time you sang your own praises.
Well, here is why, as a woman, you must self promote if you are to succeed. No ifs, buts or maybes. It is non-negotiable, and the longer you put it off, the longer it will take to reach the vision you have in your head.
Many women struggle with this concept. It's vain. It's conceited. It's icky. It's uncomfortable. You love listening to confident women's stories, but inside, seeth a little, wishing you had the guts to do the same. I'm here to share the news. It's time to self promote. That is not taking out a full page ad about your business. It's not sending of press release after press release. It's about becoming the expert in your business. And the only way you can do that is to emphasise results, not responsibilities.
To be honest, I don't care how many staff you have managed ... unless you are telling me that as a result of that, 18 got promotions, three are now CEOs, and you mentor at least one of them. Now that speaks to me about your leadership skills. The number, frankly, doesn't.
I don't care about the size of your marketing budget. But I do take notice of what you have spent it on, and how intimately you measure the results. I applaud your awards, and don't want you to be shy about telling me! I want to pick up a book and see your name in or on it. Earlier this year, I worked with over 20 women, crafting their accomplishments into readable, likeable, stories. Many told me that it took them out of their comfort zone. And, when it was printed, had that little happy-dance moment of realisation...it's actually okay to share how your life is impacting others! In fact, you have to, if you are going to build a successful business!
Retreating modestly into the shadows might help you feel comfortable, but nobody ever created any business that was worthwhile by remaining unknown.
Years ago, I worked to the STAR system. Employees were required to describe a situation they were in, detail the tasks undertook, what action was needed and taken, and the result. If you think of your business in that way, it gives others a clear image of why they should engage with you. It is promoting, without the ego. It's factual, and tells a story.
Which brings me to my next point. The power of story telling.
I believe in the fundamentals of story telling. As entrepreneurs, I believe we have an obligation to mentor and lift others up with our successes, not hoard them all to ourselves. I believe that there is more than enough to go around, and that the more you give, the more flow happens. My clients describe me as generous. That might seem odd, given I am being paid! But it is indicative of a spirit of service, of being there for them. And I do this, often, by sharing my own stories of failure and success.
So, how do we wrap all of this up neatly? I don't want to labour on the fact that women don't want to step up onto the stage and shine a spotlight on them. I've made the point. You cannot un-know what you now know. What are you going to do with that knowledge?
I bet you have a book in you, or a story. But when I speak with you at a networking event, I bet you laugh a little. Some of you tell me it scares the pants off you. (I love that, by the way, that you are so honest. It's one step away from actually doing it, by acknowledging the fear!)
Here are some secrets that truly successful people know and live by.
Publish. Unless you publish, you are doing little to build your worth as an expert. Yep. Write that eBook, publish that print book, write articles, submit press releases. And if you are nervous of writing or just don't enjoy it, pay someone. If you don't do this first step, you are going to struggle with the others, and your journey to success is going to be slowwwwwwww.
Build your brand. Working with many brands over the years, I know that few truly understand what this means. Owners and managers tell me about their colour scheme and great logo, but can't describe their brand voice. They trot out a vision and mission, but don't know what the core values are. They miss bits and pieces, and often, in sheer arrogance, trudge onwards. Slipping and sliding around social media, clamouring for anyone who will listen. A strong brand resonates throughout the entire company. Your customers can describe it to you, accurately, as you want it to be described. And all your touch points sing from the same page.
Be a superstar. Okay, this is going to be a little difficult if you are a shrinking violet who talks in terms of responsibility rather than achievements. Go get a notebook and start writing. Write down every single adversity you have overcome, and how. Use the STAR system. Build a story. You need it for step four.
Finesse your story. To tell a story, you need to write it and know it. Think of the best presentations you have been to. Listen to how they engage the audience by sharing, being vulnerable, lifting them up, and inspiring. If you know your story, your positive story, that story that got you to where you are now, you need to share it. As I said, it's your obligation in service to others. And when you have your story...
Network. Get out there and share it. Offer to be a speaker. Listen to other peoples' stories. Share. Collaborate. Lift each other up. Become part of the conversation!
Self promote. Get in front of your customer as often as you can. Share your story and achievements. By taking the time to figure out what you do and have done is inspirational, this will get easier each time.
Stop thinking in terms of what you are not. Everything you say and do is adding or detracting from the bottomline of your brand. Remember...even if your company is named after you, a brand is an entity in its own right. You are not the brand. You are the custodian of it! And as custodian, your responsibility is to promote it to the market who wants to engage with it. It's really that simple!
At some point, all of us get to a point in life where we know something has to change. We step forward and chose a new path. We literally create the vision in our heads. We often do this by being inspired by others. And in so doing, write our very own inspirational story.
Ready to share? Applications are open for your story to feature in Inspirational Australian Women 2017. For just $1950, have your story professionally written and promoted in this wonderful book that will be launched on International Women's Day, March 8, 2017. In conjunction with the ever-growing Business Women Australia, be part of something big. Reach out with other business women, and make a dent in 2017's success.
Clare has published over 12 books in just three years. Her marketing talent was first recognised by Cadbury, who created a position for her! She later built a $500,000 business from her home studio and there is little she has not turned her hand to in the field of marketing. An accomplished brand expert and strategist, designer, writer, editor, photographer, author, marketer and creative architect, Clare's self-belief is contagious.
She has been published in legal digests, global newspapers and magazines, appeared on 60 Minutes and several other television shows, had a #1 Amazon best seller that still sits in the top 10 in its category, and is advocate for never saying never. Even Jack Canfield has applauded her work, and National Geographic Traveler recommended one of her books twice.
Clare studied for and achieved three high distinction degrees across business law, marketing and business in seven years while working full-time. This powerhouse of energy wants to help you achieve your own successes. It doesn't mean you need to be CEO of BHP. But if that's what you want, promoting your successes is how you will get there. And, the self belief that you can.