What does it mean to be invisible?

I don’t mean “what would it be like if you had an invisibility cloak or a superpower and you could buzz around without anyone being able to see you”. Not that kind of being invisible. (Sadly. That kind of invisible could be quite cool.)

I mean – what if you felt like you couldn’t be seen or heard, even though you’re waving and shouting and trying to be noticed. How would that manifest itself? What would it mean for your business, for example, if no one was listening to you? What would it mean for you at work if no one could see your talents and your potential?

Do any of these following situations sound familiar to you? They are all real, and real people have brought them to our door…

“My business was absolutely perfect for that project, but we didn’t even get shortlisted to pitch.”

Business life is a rollercoaster, isn’t it?  So is every pitch application – the excitement of putting together your team and your credentials, perhaps even making mental plans for the new hires you’ll need and the extra funding it will bring in. The breath-taking suspense as you await the selection. And the crushing disappointment as you come back down to earth – and only your competitors are getting in front of the selection panel.

There are lots of reasons for missing out on a pitch. Some are unavoidable. But many are not – and one of the most common reasons we see our clients fail to get that pitch date in the diary is completely fixable.

It’s the same reason some CVs and resumés don’t get past the first sift, despite that person’s technical brilliance. It’s the same reason some case studies get chosen for glittering awards and some don’t see the light of day, even though the project was outstanding. 

And that reason? They don’t influence the reader, the reviewer, the judge. They don’t convince the decision-maker that this person, project or provider is exactly what they need, what they have been looking for. They don’t inspire a resounding YES! to the question.

Everything you write – marketing materials, social media content, business tenders, resumés, business plans, award entries, conference speeches, podcasts, and a raft of other things – are effectively your shop window. They will persuade a potential follower, fan, customer or investor to come into your shop for a closer look – or they’ll just let them walk right on by. Which do you want?

Convince those people to come in and take a look, and let you start building that relationship. In fact, next week we’ll use the blog for a teach-in on how to elevate materials like these so that they really help you get the results you want. Don’t miss it!

“Three times now I have been passed over for promotion that I really think I deserve. No one is taking me seriously.”

Employment and entrepreneurship share many common qualities – not least the personal drive and ambition of someone who wants to get on, do more, be the best they can be.

The entrepreneur’s business win might be the employee’s promotion – and in both cases it’s all about the recognition, the reward, and the next steps these things open up.

So feeling overlooked for promotion can feel as devastating as losing a new client. (And have the same impact on income and family life.)

Hard truth alert: being great at your job is only part of the story. Being perfect for that promotion is only one ingredient in the recipe for success. 

I’ll be we’ve all known people who seem to progress effortlessly – and I’ll bet that most of them do that because they’ve nailed the art of selling themselves.

This doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Sure, there are those who seem to smarm their way along – selling upwards but with, as my lovely old grandmother would have said, all fur coat and no knickers. Style over substance, if you like.

But too many people hide their light under a bushel, and then add another bushel on top just to be on the safe side. Do you do this? Is it because you are afraid of being that schmoozer? Is it just more comfortable that way (which is fine, by the way – unless you want more)? Is it because you just don’t find the time or spot the opportunities to really show yourself and your achievements? Or is it because you simply haven’t learned that skill yet?

“That’s three times my boss has fudged my request for training – why won’t they help me develop?”

Picture this. A confident and ambitious 19-year-old, three years into a fast-track PR/publishing career, asks her boss for a particular training course. She knows she’s ready, and she knows she could be contributing more. Two guys in her office have been sent on it and then duly promoted. She has asked for it four times and been fobbed off with various excuses she knows are flimsy – but can’t understand why.

One day, she catches her boss in an unguarded moment, and asks again. He snaps and says, word for word: “I don’t want to send you on the training because then I’d have to promote you, and I don’t want to promote you because I don’t like ambitious women. I find them disruptive.”

I was that 19-year-old girl, and that three-minute meeting remains one of the most shocking of my career. 

Even 30 years ago, and as young as I was, I knew there was never going to be a future for me in that company – but I also knew that was on them, it was not on me. I knew I could do no more there, but I also knew that I could shine if my light wasn’t dimmed (for no reason other than sexist fear). I left that company there and then, and I have never looked back.

I share this story because contained in the shock was a valuable lesson for which I am grateful: be prepared to give it all you’ve got to stand out in the crowd, but don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s toxic. Your profile and your visibility really, really matter, but nothing is worth trading your sanity for.

“I love listening to entrepreneurs on podcasts, but I couldn’t do something like that.”

So who’s putting you in the corner now, other than yourself? How will you ever shine in your business and get the results you want if you don’t show up and (metaphorically, at least) stand up?

You’ll often hear us say that your most important audience is you. The person you talk to most is yourself, and the person you hear more than anyone else is you. Your most powerful starting point for great communication, and the stellar results you’ll get from being more visible is how you communicate with yourself.

So, when we talk about being visible it’s not just about the way you help yourself be seen and heard. They’re just the tools and strategies. What we are really talking about is how you get the results you want. The results that will give you the life, the career, the business you dream of.

Isn’t it time you came out of the shadows?

See you back here next week – and we’ll look at those ideas for making things like pitches and applications more stand-out visible. Click here if you want to to get it straight to your inbox, so you never miss a thing. Until then, from your cheerleaders: have a great week.

Lucy & Emma | The Communication Coaches 

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