[A Five-Part Series on Building Relationships to Build Business and Community]

In Part 1 of the BRAVE series, BOLDLY and STRATEGICALLY CONNECT, readers discovered that your ideal clients and colleagues are waiting for you to connect, there are many places you can serve your community so you can expand your reach, and last, you can build your own community.

Part 2 of the BRAVE series, REACH OUT REGULARLY is about creating a plan to keep in touch with all of the amazing people you will meet. Part 3 of the BRAVE series is about creating an Abundance mindset where you operate from a mindset that there is enough to go around for everyone, versus a scarcity mindset, which is about viewing the world as a place of absence of resources, clients, and general goodwill. Generosity, the key to Abundance, brings joy, ease, and success.

Part 3 of the BRAVE series, ABUNDANTLY AND GENEROUSLY SERVE OTHERS is about creating an Abundance mindset where you operate from a mindset that there is enough to go around for everyone, versus a scarcity mindset, which is about viewing the world as a place of absence of resources, clients, and general goodwill. Generosity, the key to Abundance, brings joy, ease, and success.

Part 4 of 5

You never know what’s going to happen when you get out of the house!

I cannot count how many times in the last 10 years I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone. On the inside I may have been screaming, “No, no, I don’t want this! I just want to go home! Why am I torturing myself?” But on the outside, I was confidently walking into a room of strangers, putting on my best face and walking on stages to speak. I was also convincing myself to share my authentic self in my in-person and online talks. Being a private person who has never been a part of Facebook, I found it so hard to open up in new ways by expressing myself on LinkedIn and Instagram. Now, I sort of love it.

Comfort Zone Or Development. Stepping out of your safe area for personal growth. Chalk drawingA comfort zone can be seen in different ways. It can be passive mastery, where you are so good at what you do that it comes effortlessly. Think Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule and the fruits of those efforts. It can also mean sticking with what you know and what you are good at.

When you are in your comfort zone, you feel safe or at ease with little pressure. You are in a situation in which your ability and determination are not being tested.

If I were to think of some metaphors, they could include taking the same route home, making the same foods, going to the same places, hanging out with the same people and doing the same things, like sitting on the same spot on your couch with your awesome couch blanket. All fine.

Routine is comforting, and we know what we’re getting. Why stop what works? I order the same thing when I get Thai food once a month. I tried the other items but went with what I know and like, no matter how much a certain somebody makes fun of me.

The definitions all point toward comfort, safety and lack of pressure or tension. Where we may need to inch out of the warm, cozy comfort zone is when we want new results. If you are not finding the jobs colleagues or clients you want to serve and be around, it may be time to move yourself in a direction that may not be immediately comfortable.

When it comes to tribeworking, if you want to get to the joy part, you need to have intent and try new ways of showing up and actually show up.

I will share three ways to prepare to get out of your comfort zone so you can meet some great people and grow yourself, your business and contribute to others’ growth. These are to know your brand and decide how you want to show up, in person and online.

Know Your Brand

Your brand is how people view you and what they generally understand to be your strengths, purpose, and points of view. It is important that this brand is consistent across platforms that are visible to the public. It’s one thing to have one social media platform be private for close family and friends and another to have a consistent image across other platforms.

When you become clear on your brand, you are able to share with the world who you and what you are here to do. For some of you, it may be a challenging exercise to think it through on your own. If that’s the case, talk to those who know you and your services well and ask what benefits they have received or think they would receive from you. What questions do they have about what you do that may not be clear? If you take it a step at a time, this can be an energizing exercise. Note that it’s not a one-time exercise, either. Review your brand every 3-5 years to examine if it needs to be updated to match your evolution and that of your business.

Creating your personal and company brand can be its own five-part series, and in the spirit of staying high level, here are some great questions Chief Outsiders[1] has created to get you started:

  1. Who are my customers?
  2. What customers do I want to have?
  3. Who are my competitors?
  4. What is my competitors’ brand position?
  5. What problem does my company solve? Does anybody care?
  6. What is my value proposition? Is it distinctive? Is it relevant to my customers?
  7. When people think about my company or product, what are the feelings and associations I want them to have? Are they unique? Can I “own” them?
  8. What are the functional benefits that we deliver to our customers?
  9. What are the emotional benefits that only we deliver to our customers?
  10. What kind of personality will my brand have?

Make sure this brand is consistent across platforms and how you show up in person. Use this exercise as an opportunity to get clear on the benefits of your services.

How Will You Show Up in Person?

I have had many clients over the years who absolutely dread in-person business socializing events. The tips below are a combination of my experiences and new things clients tried so they could show up present and engaged.

Remember, you never know what’s going to happen when you get out of the house, so make sure to be prepared.

Businesswomen talking outside the office building

The first tip is to “fix your face” and be ready for anything.

Several years ago, I worked with a client in Mexico City. At the conclusion of the third day, after I finished all my follow-up emails, I went to bed at 2 a.m. In the spirit of appreciating culture and adventure, I had booked a day tour for the next day. I got on the bus at 8 a.m., sat in the back, pulled my hoodie over my head and took a nap. Tired face. Eyes hurting. After an hour, I heard different languages on the bus. Spanish of course, German … and what’s that? English. Great, I’ll make sure to chat with the Americans at some point.

At 10 a.m., the van stopped for a coffee break. Fix your face, I told myself. I could have told myself, “You’re on a much needed vacay. Who cares?” But you never know. I combed my disheveled hair, put on a smile and exited the bus. One of the Americans, Manny, came up to me and started chatting.

“What’s your name? What do you do?”

“I work with CEOs and their leaders to create strong, engaging cultures.”

His eyes widened. “Tell me more. How do you do it?”

“I help manage change during transitions. I am a coach for high performers who are trying to grow quickly, and for those who need to work on a specific area.”

His smile broadened. ”I’ve been looking for someone just like you.” Glad I fixed my face.

This ability to be agile and present in the moment helped me connect with Manny, who later introduced me to his CEO. I was able to do some great work with him and his company, all because I was willing to be present. Imagine if I’d kept the hoodie on, shuffled past everyone and spoke in grunts. It sounds so obvious, but it may not be in the moment.

Remember that we have about seven seconds to make a first impression. How do you make those seven seconds count?

  • Do you stand up to greet someone?
  • Do you make eye contact?
  • Do you smile?
  • Do you project energy? Do you seem fun?
  • Do you offer an “elbow touch” or bow to acknowledge someone? I predict that even a year or two after we’ve gotten a handle on the pandemic, we will need to express our respect in new ways that others will find comfortable.

Or are you texting? Does your face seem uninterested? Are you giving an awkward elevator speech or making authentic connections? Once we’ve made a poor first impression, it takes even more times to change it – something most of us will not get an opportunity to do.

I’ve had clients who have shared with me that going to company events and external events feel awkward. “There are so many people and I don’t know where to start.” Many clients have shared that they hate to chitchat. “Why all the small talk? Ugh.”

It is important to note that if you have introverted energy and enjoy small groups and intimate conversations, you’ll have to make some adjustments to how you show up at events. If you are extroverted and get energy from being around people, it can be easier for you. If you are an introvert, the tips below will help you take it one step at a time. If you are an extrovert, you will be able to connect better because you will start to see things from their perspective. Know that either way, many people may feel less than confident walking into business socializing events.

  • Prepare for events when possible and read up on attendees when there is information about them. You can connect beforehand on social media to break the ice.
  • Go early and become part of the welcoming committee.
  • Learn to see chitchat as just breaking the ice. Think of talking about the venue, the weather or the group as a warmup to help you dive into something deeper and more interesting. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
  • Be gracious with others who feel awkward. If a conversation has run its course, instead of saying, “Nice meeting you,” and walking away, try to introduce the person to someone else. Or if you go to get food or beverages, invite the person to join you. Or bring the person into your next conversation, get the person engaged and then leave. Make sure to check back at a later time. You have no idea how helpful this is for people who don’t always feel comfortable at big events.
  • Remember, you only need to make one connection at a time.

Another way you can be BRAVE™ is by letting your authentic self shine. Share your stories, challenges and all. Being a private person, I used to think it would be indulgent and strange to share my stories of how I was able to fight through and prevail over my challenges. In reality, people appreciate it and want to know more about you. Remember this when you are meeting others, giving talks or connecting with others online.

Quick message to friend. Attractive young African woman holding smart phone and looking at it while standing indoors.

How Will You Show Up Online?

When it comes to social media, it seems like most people are pretty comfortable putting their brand and lives out there. Not all of us. It took a lot of work for me to get comfortable sharing my life online. I’ve always enjoyed LinkedIn because it is business-focused. I’ve never been on Facebook and reluctantly joined Instagram several years ago because of my love for photography. Being on social media not only helps extend your reach, it helps express who you are. It’s best to engage in social media in a way that is authentic to you.

It is a way people check up to see who you are. First, they Google you, then they look at your website and social media sites. They want to know what you are about and what you have to say. Are you consistent with your messaging? Are you interesting? Do you appear competent?

Other ways to express who you are online is to seek testimonials that demonstrate your value. Even after a client or colleague agrees to write a testimonial, there will be a lot of follow-ups to make sure it happens and shows up online. This is where you need to be brave and keep following up until you close the loop.

Make sure your website and photos are recent and your accomplishments and services are clear.

Joining groups will also help you connect with others.

Your Next Steps

  1. Write: “I will do the following to better connect with others in person: _________________.”
  2. Write a list of you accomplishments and keep them handy to refer to.
  3. Use this affirmation: “I will be BRAVE enough to ask my past clients for testimonials.”
  4. Ensure that your social media reflects who you are and what you’re here to do by making updates. List those updates.

[1] “10 Questions You Need to Ask when Building a Brand.” Retrieved from https://www.chiefoutsiders.com/blog/bid/91492/10-questions-you-need-to-ask-when-building-a-brand