This morning I opened my Linked In messages to find 14 new messages – 2 from people I know well, 5 from people who have been connections for a while and message me every couple of months to tell me about there products and 8 from new connections who’s first contact with me is to try to sell me something. One even said ‘without my help your business will fail’ – I’d love to know what crystal ball he’s looking in.
On a more serious note though, in my mind social platforms – including LinkedIn, are about building connection, developing relationships and sharing good, helpful, value led stuff. They are not about connecting with as many randon people – especially those with plenty of connections, then flogging the guts out of your product and service, while at the same time destroying any potential relationships you might be building.
Does this mean I’m some fluffy coach who thinks selling is evil? Not at all, I have made money through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. I sell stuff to people I first connected with on social platforms and I’ve even employed someone after building a relationship onLinkedIn. I have one guiding principle though, which is value first. Very few people actually like being sold at – by this I mean the unsolicited pitch that pops up in your messages – and this applies to all social platforms. I’m not talking about sales conversations after you have built a relationship, or established that the other party might be interested in what you have.
I guess what I’m saying here is if you want to use social media to grow your business – and there’s nothing wrong with that, use it for what its best for, engaging people in what you believe and what you do, expanding your reach and credibility, building relationships and getting to know interesting people.
If you do connect with me, connect because I am useful to you, you are interested in me or my business or because you may have something that I need, then take the time to get to know me. That way I may finish up doing business with you, I may recommend you to my network, or connect you with someone I know. Don’t look at my profile and think – target market or has lots of connection, and definitely don’t follow up my acceptance or your request with a sales pitch.
I’m sure I’m not alone in opening LinkedIn or messenger with a sinking feeling when I see 12 sales pitches.
Lets change this, lets get really connected with each other.
We all know people who can just walk into a room and own it. People pay attention to them, they might want to be noticed by them – or hidden from them depending on the circumstances. The mood, energy and attitude of these people impacts the room. They are the rapport leaders – for good or bad, they influence how others behave, interact and even what they think. These people are connected energetically, they are noticeable, they have a presence.
When we look at the constructs of our society it is geared towards needing to stand out, needing to be heard and to have an impact – and that is certainly true for business owners. In short, we are geared towards valuing extrovert behaviours.
We see this in the workplace, in schools, in many social clubs and certainly at parties – outgoing, sociable people, ones with lots of friends, ones who ’know’ lots of people. All are considered more noticeable. According to Susan Cain, in her book ‘Quiet’ this happens to an extent that people with more introverted tendencies fear they are at a disadvantage or even ashamed of their quiet natures, and somehow less worthy. She talks about society’s bias towards extroversion and how many introverts feel that in order to progress they need to develop more extrovert styles. She also points out that somewhere between a third and a half of the population favour introversion as their natural style, and by denying the value of this we are reducing the connectedness, the creativity of society, we risk losing some of the great talents that lie within introverts who cannot express themselves in this noisy world.
Let’s be honest though, introvert/extrovert/ambivert – we all need to have an impact, and we all need to have that impact in a way that suits our style, personality and values – in other words we need to be real and show up as ourselves.
Wherever you sit on the introvert/extrovert spectrum there are challenges and wins for you when we get down to presence. And for most of us we have a natural preference, but move backwards and forwards along the introvert/extrovert spectrum depending on the circumstances that we find ourselves in.
Let’s look at extroverts first – you find it easy to walk into the room and seek attention, you like being in the spotlight, you have something to say, you’re on form and you easily tune in and engage with people around you, you carry the conversation on and on and never tire.
But, and it’s a big but, if you are not given that attention you are quite likely to crumple quickly, feel insecure, try harder to get noticed and probably be more inclined to talk about yourself and your accomplishments, not listen too closely to what others are saying and as a result not engage very well. People around you may tire of you your tales and your Duracell bunny style energy.
We need extrovert behaviour in business to get the conversations going, to start the exchange of creativity, to hold the energy for the room sometimes – just note this is extrovert behaviours, any one of us can learn and adopt these.
If you are an introvert then all I’ve just mentioned forms part of your worst nightmare. You are much more likely to listen, not get your point across, or not even be noticed, while at the same time finding the whole affair exhausting. You’d much rather slink into a quiet corner and have a conversation with one or two like-minded people.
We need introvert behaviours – that quiet introspection, to step back from group think, to allow individual creativity and revelations, which can be later developed or refined by a group. We need leaders who listen and are driven by what they believe is right, and not just a desire for the limelight – and again these introvert behaviours can be learned by any of us.
Of course, these are two extremes and as I said before you are most likely to move around the spectrum with a whole range of learned behaviours that allow you to function reasonably well in situations which are not your preference.
So, let’s come back to having a presence, being that person who owns the room – and just to be clear this is about authenticity, being real. It is not about being an introvert or extrovert, it’s about understanding what behaviours you can step into to have the impact you need to have in any given situation.
I believe there are three things that enable you to show up with conviction – confidence, position and clarity.
Confidence – understanding what value you bring to the table
Position – where are you coming from, what do you know, what do you need to share, what is your opinion.
Clarity – where are the lines, what are you prepared to do or not do in support of this thing or issue, what are your personal values around it?
And your answer to those three questions will vary depending on the circumstances, the issues, and how important a given topic is to you – and that’s ok.
The final piece of work around presence is self-management – and again what you need to do is both circumstantial and dependent on your introvert/extrovert tendencies.
Story, communication and energy all impact on your presence and with some planning and some attention they are all controllable.
Check in on the stories you tell yourself. Do they drive you to greatness or are they holding you back? Where might you need to do some work on your stories (or excuses) in order to achieve what you need to achieve?
Communication – be yourself, if you are not shouty, rah, rah – then don’t try to be. You’ll feel odd, look fake and lose impact. By the same token if you have something to say, say it, your way. If you are more dramatic then go for impact – be yourself.
Here’s the thing with communication, particularly when you really need to make an impact, practice and precision matter. Plan beforehand – even if you prefer to wing it! Know what you want to say and how you want to say it – then practice. This will make you more confident, more able to find a rapport with the people, and more able to lead the conversation in a connected way.
Energy – your energy is a huge part of your presence so control it. Use your physical presence to reinforce your message, not to undo it. Remember, actions speak louder than words – ensure your body language supports what you are saying. And ensure your mood or state does not undermine your impact. In short, think about the energy you are spreading and ensure it matches what you want the people you are with to feel.
We covered a lot her. Fundamentally, presence – or owning a room – is about paying attention, being true to yourself and who you are, while at the same time being mindful of what people need from you. It is about being able to connect, to share energy, and to move people with your courage and conviction. Personality type is not an excuse, or a cop out – it is a vehicle for understanding behaviour and how to show up in a congruent but powerful way, whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert.
So go have some fun with this, pay attention to what you do currently and where you could be more impactful, then practice.
Thank you for reading, if you’d like more insights like this, join the Brave Scene community.
We all have the most amazing piece of kit at our disposal, it’s with us all the time, capable of running complex software, handling masses of information and operating 24/7 – it’s the ultimate super computer – I’m talking about your brain!
I meet people all the time who are frantically chasing success – many of whom have not actually stopped long enough to define what success means to them. Even though many of these people know how to do the things they perceive will make them successful, few actually get round to doing them.
The brutal reality is that only the minority of people find the success they are looking for – the majority settle for what they know they can do. I believe this is down to the relationship you have with your brain.
Fundamentally, your brain hates change, it likes to create patterns – neuro pathways, kind of like high speed railways – no stops and A – B in the least time possible.
To enable this to happen, your brain takes any given stimuli and attempts to fit it into something already known – in effect it does a search & find on all the files in its memory and throws up the closest results, and most of the time this is perfectly good & an uber efficient way of dealing with the massive amount of data inputted every second.
Where it goes wrong is when the info has been slightly misfiled in the first place. You attach an emotional response or even a whole story to a specific stimuli and then create a behavioural response to that stimuli which may not serve you – it may not even be true.
I often talk about this as the squatter in your brain – your self-talk feeding the memory bank often with misfiled information. The trouble is, it can be very easy to focus on your self-talk, its active, quite literally, in your head and for many people consistent.
The challenge is that energy is directed to whatever we are focused on and that’s great if we are focused on what we want or are aiming to achieve.
Because your brain’s primary job is to keep us safe / alive, then most often your default focus is on what you don’t want, your fears and your limitations. Guess what, your energy goes on what you don’t want.
Your self-talk – the squatter – feeds on this energy, consuming it and leaving us less able to do the stuff that matters to us.
So ask yourself two questions:
- What regularly occupies space in your mind?
- In this where you want to focus your energy?
Kicking out the squatter takes a bit of up front conscious effort and focus, but is well worth it. Your brain is quite capable of changing its neural fast tracks, or building a new network. Essentially, anything your brain is repeatedly confronted with, it will rapidly learn, adapt to and make sense of the unexpected circumstances to create new patterns. This is called neuroplasticity.
When you’re a child or adolescent, when you are new in a place or role, feeling out of your depth is almost a daily occurrence – it becomes a familiar state and your brain knows how to adapt.
As you get older and more settled, you often have more choice about what you do and operate to easy comfortable familiar things. Those you believe you are good at. They take the least amount of cognitive effort.
The down side though is when you do the same stuff and stay in your comfort zone, your brain doesn’t have to work as hard – tasks are unchallenging and repetitive. It shrinks, loses versatility. it is always running the same patterns. This of course leaves more room for the squatter!
For most of human existence in history that was just fine, but the world has changed since the industrial revolution, the pace of change is increasing due to changes noticed from generation to generation, in health, in what we could do.
By the 20th century, technology made a significant difference to speed of change.
And in the 21st century the digital revolution has changed the world – 4 exabytes of new info in 2012 (that’s 4 billion billion new pieces of info created in a single year – more per year than in the 5000 preceding years of humanity).
Fast innovation has also changed how we socialise. We live in a much more info cluttered and noisy environment and as such have to adapt, but also protect ourselves from the complacency of old patterns and habits.
New things – new skills, don’t always come easy.
They need practice, a bit of dedicated time committed to them, until they become familiar – in other words we have created new neural pathways for them.
It is through consistently challenging your brain with new things, new environments, new tasks that you can recreate the learning environment your brain was used to when you were a child. This is how we continue to expand our thinking, develop new knowledge and hone our skills.
It’s more than just new knowledge though. The stories we tell ourselves play a big part. Even as a child we are influenced by those who matter to us: parents, teachers, siblings. We start to shape what we believe we are good at and what we are not. Most of us then gravitate to areas we do well and do more of that widening the perceived good/bad gap because we are focused on developing the good.
You’d be surprised how many business owners I work with who proudly tell me they don’t ‘do’ maths – they’ve never been any good at it! Many are shocked when I say get good at it then – you can’t run a successful business without understanding the numbers! I do of course help people to understand where their story came from – if it’s really true, or just an excuse – and I help them to understand the maths they need for their business, put into context what it means.
So how do you kick out the squatter?
- Pay attention to how you feel & react
- Do one thing at a time
- Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
- Keep track of what works
And finally just know that an active, challenged brain is much healthier, more responsive and more likely to keep you sharp in your later years than one which has developed its set patterns and routines and stayed with them.
If you want to stay active and challenged in business, join us in the Brave Scene community.