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What a difference a year makes - #21
2009: I am a natural writer. I am not a natural networker. The thought of needing to "hawk my talents" was the most unappealing part of my new career. It almost incited me to anger that I had to possess the ability not only to creatively and compellingly tell stories with words - but to also broadcast that fact to the world. It felt foreign and uncomfortable whenever I tried, like I was performing some unnatural act against my very nature.
When it came right down to it, however, networking and marketing must absolutely be a component of what I do. If I don't sell my abilities, who will? I knew I had to find a comfortable way to deal with this problem or my writing business was never going to get off the ground.
2010: With some admitted hesitancy, I embarked on some marketing exercises with my career coach. At first she tried to convince me to attend networking get-togethers and make appointments to pick the brains of champion networkers like Realtors. Nuh-uh...that wasn't gonna happen. If I was already feeling uncomfortable, putting me in an awkward situation like that was not going to bring out the best in me. And that in turn wasn't going to present a good image for my business. No, I needed to find a more natural way for me to talk to people about my burgeoning business.
The first real success I encountered was in completing my coach's assignment to articulate my business' offerings into an "elevator pitch." In other words, describe my business in the number of words I would have time to say during a typical elevator ride. That really helped me conceptualize my business, which made putting words to it much easier. Basically it got the words from the "writing" half of my brain to the "speaking" part of my brain.
Now that it comes more freely out of my mouth, you can barely get me to shut up about my business! It all came down to getting the concepts that were in my head - out of my head. The best part is that now the ability to promote my business does feel natural because it is natural - it came from me in my own words and in my own way. As my confidence in my abilities and in my business increases, so does my ability to talk about it with authenticity and authority.
I am very different in the department of self-promotion than I was just one year ago. Who knows, maybe there's a "networking event" in my future yet... (pssst...don't hold your breath!)