By Mildred Talabi
It’s no secret that women generally struggle more with being visible online than men.
Being visible online means putting yourself “out there” on social media in a way that attracts the attention of your target audience for the purpose of building your business and/or personal brand.
In the course of my work as a LinkedIn Visibility Coach for women in business, I regularly speak to women about why they’re not being visible on LinkedIn and the reasons generally fall into one or more of the following three fears.
- Fear of saying the wrong thing
- Fear of appearing “salesy”
- Fear of showing up too much
If you can identify with any of these fears, the good news is there is a remedy, so read on!
Fear #1: Fear of saying the wrong thing
Diagnosis: The fear of saying the wrong thing is usually rooted in not understanding what the “right” thing to say would be. For many women, LinkedIn is seen as a “professional” platform and one which requires a certain code of conduct.
The problem is when you don’t know what that code of conduct is, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the platform and to fear breaking this unknown code by saying the wrong thing. Add that to the fact that no one wants to look bad in public, especially on a ‘social media’ platform, and you have a real barrier that keeps women from being visible on LinkedIn.
Remedy: The remedy to this fear is to understand that yes, LinkedIn is indeed a “professional” platform in that its original aim was never to be a “social” network like Facebook and Instagram — but it’s also a platform filled with real human beings with a whole range of perspectives on what’s right and what’s wrong. Unless you come out with content that is outrightly offensive or polarising in some way, it’s going to be pretty hard to say the wrong thing on LinkedIn — so go ahead and start posting.
If you’re brand new to LinkedIn (or returning after a long absence), it’s a good idea to take a few weeks to just get a feel of the platform before you start putting out your own content. Read other people’s posts, comment on things, get involved with discussions on pages, etc. Once you feel more confident that you understand the platform (and how it differs from the other networks), you can then start putting out your own posts with the confidence that it’s highly unlikely for you to say the wrong thing.
Fear #2: Fear of appearing “salesy”
Diagnosis: Many women have been so put off by bad sales practices that they run a mile when the word sales is mentioned! If you’ve been on LinkedIn for any length of time, you would have received at least one inbox message at some point from a relative stranger offering to sell you something you didn’t ask for and have not even an iota of interest in buying. So many of us have had this unpleasant experience that it’s left a mental scar in our sales psyche that says, “I do NOT want to be that person — not now, not ever!”
It also doesn’t help that selling has long been promoted as something that’s rather ‘masculine’ in nature and best suited to certain personality types — the overly confident, self-promoting, persuasive types with the ‘gift of the gab’ who are good at making people buy things they don’t need or want. Not something many women feel they can identify with.
With both these elements in mind, it’s no surprise many women are afraid of appearing “salesy” on LinkedIn!
Remedy: So, what’s the solution? The first thing is to understand that the word “sell” has been removed from its original meaning. The root meaning of the word is actually “to serve”. When you think of selling as “serving” your target audience with relevant services and/or products for their benefit, selling suddenly takes on a new significance..
The other thing to realise is that if you’re in business, you’re also in the business of sales — otherwise your business won’t last very long (as a side note, even employees are in the business of sales; you have to constantly “sell” yourself to land your next job or promotion!). The good news is that LinkedIn, as a platform, works on the basis of “social selling”. This is where you sell through building and nurturing relationships with your target audience, rather than trying to force your goods down people’s throats via your posts and inbox messages.
When you engage in social selling correctly — primarily by serving with your content — you will be able to sell your products and services on LinkedIn with relative ease and without coming across “salesy”.
Fear #3: Fear of showing up too much
Diagnosis: “Won’t people get tired of seeing my face?” This is one objection I hear time and time again when I initially start my clients on the journey to being visible on LinkedIn. As part of this journey, I recommend that they post 3-5 times a week on LinkedIn to maintain visibility for the purpose of building their brand and their business.
This is when the fear of showing up too much rears its ugly head. As women, many of us have been taught as little girls to stay in the background and avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves. Unfortunately, many of us have also carried this mentality into adulthood, shrinking back at work and in our businesses when we should be taking front and centre stage.
We think that if we start being visible — showing up more often and commanding attention — people will be put off by this, or think we’re being boastful, arrogant, overly confident or any one or more of the other negative associations we’ve assigned as a society to women who are not afraid of the spotlight!
Remedy: Think about your favourite actor. How many of their films have you watched? Let me ask you this — if they were to put out another film today, would you watch it? Chances are if they’re indeed your favourite actor, your answer would be “of course!”
Well, guess what? The same is true for you and your target audience. When you really identify the audience you’re called to serve and you start to add value to them through your content and services, your audience will never get tired of seeing you. In fact, the more they see and hear from you, the more they can’t wait to see and hear from you next time!
So don’t worry about showing up too much on LinkedIn. It is indeed true that when you really start to be visible on LinkedIn (and elsewhere) you absolutely will turn off some people, but that’s not only okay, it’s recommended! You want to resonate so well with your target audience that any and everyone who doesn’t fit this bill will automatically disqualify themselves, saving you time and energy in the process.
Did you identify with any of these LinkedIn fears? Do you have fears of your own not covered here? Get in touch with me via LinkedIn — I’d love to hear your feedback.