Working with thought leaders and influencers around the world, I’ve heard many reasons about why now isn’t the time to stand up as an authority in your space. Assumptions like you need to have bulletproof confidence, a perfectly crafted message or a million-strong following to make an impact.
Putting your ideas out there is not the most comfortable undertaking for most of us. However, the individuals or brands that do stand out as experts in their field, are those who recognise that the majority of their discomfort is fuelled by myths. Here are the five most common myths that I see keeping budding influencers on the sidelines.
“I don’t have a perfect story.”
So many people believe that you have to be polished to have influence. But the truth is, we don’t buy into perfection. We buy into passion. If Elon Musk wrote an article called ‘My five biggest mistakes… and what I learned’ or an article called ‘Five projects I aced’, which one would you read first? You would want to read the real story. The actual journey with all the land mines you can now hopefully avoid. We’re curious about what makes successful people human. Not only that but in sharing your learnings and growth, we know you’ve earnt the right to be seen as an authority.
What errors have you made that others can learn from? Ironically the things that we avoid sharing – are the very things that often make us compelling.
“I don’t want it to be about me.”
I meet so many incredibly talented CEO’s and entrepreneurs that aren’t out there and owning their space as much as they could be. Usually because they don’t want it to be ‘all about me’. If you look at the most powerful influencers in the world – the Bransons, Huffingtons and Zuckerbergs – it’s not about them. In fact, they rarely talk about themselves. Influence instead comes from choosing to step out from behind the brand and drive conversations that are important to your audience. 96% of all the content we consume is related to a person – not a brand. In this new age of influence to stand out as a leader means stepping out from behind the brands and sharing your passion and expertise.
Try flipping the question from ‘How can I avoid it being about me?’ to ‘How can I drive an important conversation for the people I’m trying to influence?’.
“I don’t have the confidence.”
We all tend to lay low in the hope that we’ll eventually feel self-assured enough to step out. However, believe me, waiting for confidence is the surest way to guarantee you’ll always stay on the sidelines. What’s more important than confidence is certainty. You might get more information tomorrow, you might change your mind, but based on all your experience, what’s the best that you have to give today? Pick any one of the influencers you follow and I guarantee you they have mastered the art of speaking with certainty. I also guarantee you they are just as open to being proved wrong.
Remember that feedback and disagreement are inevitable. Try shifting your mindset to ‘people may question the information’ as opposed to ‘people will question my right to deliver the information’
“I don’t have the budget.”
I’m willing to bet that no one has ever had a marketing budget that feels large enough. A more useful focus is to instead look at how many ways you could contribute to your target market today. Try breaking down the top ten things your target market wants to know about your area of expertise – then develop content in those areas. Platforms like blogs, trends reports, podcasts and YouTube channels are all free and available to anyone with ideas worth sharing. In addition to being free – with 93% of our buying decisions being influenced by social – these channels are now often more powerful than traditional and expensive marketing campaigns.
What one platform has the most engagement with your target market? How can you pick and focus all your efforts to master it? Who else has already mastered it and seen results? What can you learn?
“I don’t have many followers”
A few weeks ago I was speaking at an event and I asked the audience to mentally calculate exactly how many contacts they had in their network. Between CRM’s, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks the number in the room exceeded 500,000. That’s half a million people that had opted in to hear from this group of talented people. Yet when I asked for the last time any of them had shared their knowledge or expertise? The silence was deafening. All too often we fall into the trap of collecting – rather than engaging – our network. In this instance size is indeed irrelevant, a better question is if you asked any of your contacts a question – are they engaged enough to answer?
Are you collecting rather than engaging with your contacts? How can you develop a network of 200 engaged individuals who consider you the ‘go to’ for ideas, guidance and trends? I guarantee this will deliver more opportunities and referrals than 20,000 sat dormant.
Any (or all) of these myths sound familiar? Take comfort in the fact that every successful influencer has – and I can assure you, still does – grapple with reasons to keep their ideas and expertise quiet. However, they choose to have their actions and behaviour tell a different story. The next time you’re agonising over a pitch, a presentation, an article, or even a social media post – a habit that anyone who works with me can tell you I’m a prime culprit. Instead ask yourself, what’s my primary intention here? If it’s to share as generously as possible in a space where you can make a valuable contribution, then stop worrying and get out there.
Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration of what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes, Spotify or juliemasters.com.