Let’s be honest, none of us are coming out of this Covid-19 experience completely unscathed.
Even though many of us have found silver linings in lockdown – some purposefully and some accidentally – it has been a shock to our systems to some degree.
And one of the things we’re hearing from many of you right now is that your confidence has taken a knock. Who could possibly judge you for that? So many of your roles and routines were shifted overnight, into something you didn’t recognise and hadn’t prepared for.
But in the comfort of day-pyjamas, lockdown hair and conference calls, it’s been super easy to become more low-key, a little less visible, just not quite so ‘out there’.
We’re going to talk about this lots more in the coming weeks – both the mindset elements of confidence, and the actionable tools and materials you can build and deploy to get your communication mojo back and truly sparkle on your business or workplace stage.
But let’s start with a crucial reminder: comfortable though it may be at time, being invisible is really bad for your health, wealth and success.
Let us show you what a lack of visibility can mean in business or at work. Any of these 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.”
Every pitch application can be one hell of a rollercoaster – 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 revenue it will bring in. The breath-taking suspense as you await the selection. And the crushing disappointment as you learn that 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’re not visible enough to influence or convince the decision-maker that this is exactly what they need, what they have been looking for. They don’t inspire a resounding YES!
Everything you write – marketing materials, social media content, pitches, resumés, business plans, award entries, conference speeches, podcasts, and a raft of other things – are your shop window. They define your visibility, and persuade a potential follower, fan, customer or investor to come into your shop for a closer look – or not.
“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 creating the visibility to win the recognition, the reward, and the next opportunities.
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 making themselves and their value very visible to others.
But too many people hide their light under a bushel, and then pop another bushel on top just to be on the safe side. Do you do this? Is it because you are afraid that being visible is somehow schmoozy? 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 media/communication career, asks her boss for a particular training course. She knows she’s ready; she gets great feedback from her clients and colleagues alike. 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: “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 perfectly-quoted 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 visibly shine if my light wasn’t dimmed (through some misguided sexist fear). I left that company that day, 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 get visible and get the results you want if you don’t show up and stand up?
You’ll often hear us say that your most important audience is you. The way you communicate with yourself is the your starting point for showing the world what you are worth, and getting the stellar results you deserve.
So when we talk about being visible, it’s not just about the way you communicate with others. It’s also about developing the communication skills, tools and strategies to create the career or the business you dream of.
Please let us know how you’re doing as you step back into your business or working world – comment below or come and see/follow us on our Facebook page. And if there’s anyone you know who would benefit from greater confidence and visibility, please do share this blog and tell them about us.
Stay safe and well…and stay tuned for more tools and resources.
Lucy & Emma | The Communication Coaches