Why I'm so "out there" on social media
Over the past several weeks I’ve been making the strategic shift to begin using my personal brand to grow my business, and things have gotten weird. Maybe not for you, but certainly for me. It might feel like I’ve been over-posting or over-sharing, because I am. I’m taking the same advice I give to all of my entrepreneurial clients: get out of your comfort zone and start sharing stories that connect you to other people.
For the record, I’ve always “put myself out there”— much to the dismay of my traditional and private husband. Whether through social media, my many blogs, or a personal story told on a stage to a huge audience, Mike has always wondered— ‘why must you tell strangers about all the things going on in your coo-coo, woo-woo brain?’ And it’s a fair question.
I’ll answer it in both a practical and a vulnerable, “out there” kind of way.
i.The practical answer is all about business. I coach all of my clients to hone their personal brand, whether they want to or not.
If you’re building a business and haven’t read Primal Branding by Patrick Hanlon, take a Amazon Prime break right now and order this book. Go on, I’ll wait. As the title implies, there are innate human needs around Belonging. We all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves— a sports team, a church, an industry. All successful businesses have capitalized on this need for human belonging and used it as the basis for which to build a brand or a community of fans who will buy their products.
The first tenant in Primal Branding is to tell your creation story. Who are you and why are you doing what you’re doing? We can all conjure the story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building a computer company in their garage, or perhaps Jessica Alba being fed up with chemicals in her household after having children and starting The Honest Company. Stories that portray your humble beginnings aren’t just authentic, they’re relatable— and finding shared experiences (eg reliability) is one of the main ways people who are getting to know one another connect.
As a growth strategy, candid storytelling is a triple whammy. Not only can a juicy or compelling story help you find your next friend, client or customer, but it can repel those who simply aren't worth your time. The kicker is that in a highly competitive environment, again—business, career, dating, you name it— your stories are often what make you most memorable among the sea of competition. Think about it: others can copy just about anything but your life experiences.
I’ve studied the art and science of storytelling for years. Teaching my clients to leverage their innate ability to share meaningful stories is truly the most fun I have all week.
ii.The vulnerable answer is that growing up I was extremely self conscious and constantly worried about what others would think of me (and now Im the exact opposite).
Was I weird? Too quiet? Too bright? Too artistic? As a kid, I never allowed myself to believe I could fit into a clique or a team sport. I knew that deep down, I wasn’t like other people.
Thank god I grew out of that!
Nearing the end of high school, and ready to finally start living, I forced myself into countless situations where I had to experience life in a different way. From moving straight from my parent’s suburban house to the middle of the remote countryside where I lived alone for a Summer (without internet!), to taking the train into Mexico with just $75 in my pocket to see what life was like there (glad I’m still alive too, thanks) - I’ve always been seeking something else. I knew that despite how “weird” I actually was that there was nothing wrong with being different, and more importantly, that I wasn’t alone.
I was aware of the bubble I’d grown up in and made it my mission to find other types of normal in the world. With each experience came different people, different cultures, different values. Those people I connected with most deeply were vulnerable and open with me in return. They were college friends, art school teachers, homeless folks along the railways…
The main thing I learned through spending time with other “out there” people is that we were all the same. Not just me and the weirdos… but all of us, as a species. We share the same questions, insecurities, and flaws. The difference was choosing not to hide those parts of us. And in my mid 20s, I chose not to hide anymore.
Today, I still choose to share more than just my highlight reel with friends (and strangers). Sharing how perfect and joyful everything is doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t serve my soul. Through being vulnerable, I attract other vulnerable people and those are the relationships I cherish most. Through being open and honest, I inspire someone who is feeling scared or is hiding a part of themselves, or is beating themself up unnecessarily. Through being vulnerable and sharing what’s gone wrong for me, I make someone, somewhere feel better.
I want to know…
How “out there” are you on social media? Do you just post the good stuff? Why or why not? And also, what role does social media play in your life?
Rachel Lightfoot is a Bay Area Brand Consultant and Millennial Life Coach
Want help building your personal brand, getting out of your comfort zone, or launching your own business?
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