I had a lot of trouble getting this website started and getting it ‘right’. I must have 38 drafts for the ‘About Me’ page saved on my computer, some half-finished, some completely abandoned, some that go on for pages and pages because I couldn’t decide what to cut out. When planning and putting together content for my website, I consistently got stuck not on design elements, blog posts or ideas, but on selling myself.
I’ve spent most of the last decade working with advertising content, writing proposals, pitching ideas, and finally, most recently, working with other people’s proposals and grant applications. But that is partly the issue. I know what it takes to get the attention of an audience, and there is one key element most of us avoid, skirt around and try to forget. It can be summed up in one word – connection.
The only reason why anyone pays attention to what you have to offer, whatever that may be, is because they connect with you on some level. If its not you directly, it is the philosophy and image of your brand. Rarely, is it only your product they are drawn to. Human beings love a story.
But telling your story truthfully takes courage and vulnerability. And vulnerability is hard. There is a catch 22 as well – most of us believe that if people see the real truth underneath our bravado that they’ll discover we’re not good enough, not worthy… or worse, we imagine they won’t like us anymore once the real version of ourselves is revealed. The catch lies in the fact that vulnerability is required for connection, and its that very connection you are looking to make if you are trying to sell or market yourself or your projects, regardless of the audience. Its true of pozible campaigns as much as it is true of selling services and products, and its very much true of pitching projects and applying for grants. This goes tenfold if you are an emerging practitioner or business. Nothing will sell for you like your real self, and your real story.
But it’s really hard. In the past I struggled greatly with the idea that being myself was enough. Enough to get the job, get the money, get whatever it is was that I wanted. I constantly came up lacking, because, I guess I just wasn’t willing to put my real out there. As I slowly got used to the idea (definitely still getting used to it!) that I was no better than or less than anyone else, just different and good in my own way, that’s when things changed for me. Interestingly, that’s also when I stopped doing work I didn’t enjoy and started pursuing work that I did enjoy, and in which I could really utilise my strengths to their full potential.
Its easy to get lost in the fear of what might happen if you show the world your authentic self and tell your story in your own words. It leaves you exposed and open to failure and criticism. But it is also the only way you’ll find a real and dedicated audience, fan base, clients or customers – by showing you are real, relatable and vulnerable. If you really understand this, then I think eventually you can achieve anything you want.
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