Here's Why Your Work Doesn't Speak for Itself -- and What to Do Instead
Have you avoided personal branding and writing thought leadership content because it felt “too narcissistic”?
Here’s how that limiting belief is costing you opportunities.
Recently, I've had a few people contact me about why writing thought leadership content or creating a personal branding strategy hasn't worked for them — even after trying a few things.
The big underlying theme I hear is people don't feel "narcissistic enough” to put themselves out there. It feels too weird and uncomfortable.
(That may resonate with you too).
This statement makes me laugh because I totally get where these folks are coming from — especially when "don't make yourself such a big deal" is at the forefront of every GenX woman's brain.
Because we've been conditioned to believe that "our work should speak for itself."
People should notice our good deeds.
Promoting ourselves should feel icky, inauthentic, and wrong. That's something that hacks do — not people "like us."
If you've felt that way in the past, may I lovingly ask you this question...
How is that belief working out for you?
Chances are... it's not. You're self-sabotaging without even knowing it.
You're saying "whatever" and staying solidly in your comfort zone because of an outdated belief meant to put you in your place.
That sucks. And it's costing you money.
Here's how to tell if limiting beliefs are sabotaging your branding.
You know that writing thought leadership content is vital for building your personal brand and landing new opportunities — especially if you’re an entrepreneur and people need to know, like, and trust you. But it feels weird to have your work "out there," and writing content feels hard and scary. So you write nothing and tell yourself you'll figure it out as soon as work is less busy.
Stating your accomplishments in your LinkedIn profile or bio page feels weird — even if you've won awards, led teams, and driven income. Your bio doesn't come close to reflecting your personality and brilliance — and you know it. It bugs you, but you let it ride.
You know you "should" be active on LinkedIn, so you post random "like bait" posts that never drive leads. You don't want to be like those people who annoy you on LinkedIn, so you post fluffier stuff, hoping you get noticed without sounding “sales-y.”
You don't step up because — although you may have blazed trails and started industries — you worry that those wins age you and make you seem out of touch. (Ouch. I feel you.)
Believing people will randomly notice you in today's super hectic world is a gamble. People are busy. They're distracted. It takes work to get their attention.
And when they are looking for information, they search Google and check LinkedIn profiles. They're moving fast and searching faster.
Unless your work is RIGHT THERE, it won't grab anyone's attention.
I repeatedly mentioned this in my LinkedIn Learning SEO B2B Writing training. It’s a big deal.
But you can get their attention.
Here's what you could have when you take control of your personal branding.
Creating thought leadership content means you can partially control what people see when they Google your name. More well-written (and optimized) content = more Google branding opportunities for a multitude of keyterms. If you work for yourself, this means more targeted leads visiting your site.
A LinkedIn profile that's well-written, seeded with keywords, and feels like YOU is a gateway to new, fantastic opportunities. We're all here on LinkedIn because we know it works. Why not make it work for you?
I'm going to make a bold statement — creating random acts of content without a strategy tying it back to ROI is stupid. Including LinkedIn posts. Yes, you can drive quality LinkedIn (and Google) leads without being one of "those people." It's just learning how to do it right.
Instead of "spinning" or minimizing your experience, imagine sharing your story and having it resonate across generations. Yes, you'll still be an "elder." But it's a label you embrace rather than shun.
For instance, you can guess my age if you check out this photo of me meeting Sergey Brin in 2002. Yup, I was blonde then.
I used to feel weird about showcasing this photo because — as a woman in tech — I used to be more sensitive to the age stuff. Screw that.
So, how can you pull yourself out of "my work speaks for itself" mode?
The cool thing is — you have a choice.
If this article resonates with you, you're probably struggling with "how do I get myself out there?"
Trying something new may feel scary.
Here are some tips:
Don't try to do all the things at once. Choose one thing to start (like LinkedIn) and do it well. Then start experimenting with different channels. This leads me to...
You can spend less time creating content if you know how to do it. Instead of randomly posting and blogging, take a big step back and figure out your content strategy. Plus, there are ways to repurpose content so you can write something once and use it multiple times. That way, your content will be visible, showcase your unique value, and drive ROI.
Writing a LinkedIn profile that showcases your skills and feels like YOU is like buying a new kick-ass, professional outfit. It makes you feel powerful, you love seeing it, and it's worth the investment. Just..do it. ;)
Finally, if you're in your head and can't figure out what to do -- get help. Invest in a coach or consultant. Give yourself the gift of clearing all the "what should I do now?" thoughts out of your head and save yourself time and money down the road. As another loving statement -- if you haven't figured out this branding stuff by now, you probably won't. You're too busy, and it's not your thing. Even I have a coach. It's amazing.
Your work will never speak for you. But, YOU can learn how to shout your value from the rooftops (and no, it won't make you a narcissist.)
Are you ready?