If there’s one thing that this year’s International Women’s Day has taught us, it’s that we need to #BeBoldForChange! There’s no getting away from it. More of us need a boost of self-confidence to shout about our successes to help our businesses grow.
However, this is easier said than done. Confidence and credibility are the main challenges for women when running their businesses according to a recent survey carried out by the FSB (Federation of Small Business) to a sample of 2,000 women.
The perception that we will be judged as showing off or not having expertise is often a huge stumbling block for many female entrepreneurs. “Who does she think she is” and other negative comments often effectively put the brakes on any fledgling attempts at promoting our businesses.
Self-promotion is vital to growing your businesses, whether you are pitching to the press or standing up and being present at dreaded networking meetings, you need to show up.
Who better to share the importance of self-promotion than founder of Ariatu Public Relations, Ronke Lawal, the publicist behind numerous well-known brands, particularly within the African and Caribbean communities. We asked her to answer some questions on the topic of self-promotion. Read her responses.
How important is it for entrepreneurs, particularly women to brush up on their self-promotion skills?
It is absolutely essential. By doing so, it will help them attract more clients and generate business. It’s important to remember that shining a spotlight on our successes is not showing off, it is showing people who we are. Women shouldn’t whisper about their wins, they should be shouting about their successes!
I often find that those who avoid self-promotion often use the rationale of being shy to justify their inertia. But I don’t buy that. I think that they’re afraid to shine. We need more role models who can inspire the world, help other women to come out of their shell and start to uplift themselves and encourage each other to stand out.
Now is the time to use the resources that are widely available to self-promote and promote each other.
What would you say to the woman who is terrified of networking and speaking in public?
If it is a real block, then they can seek coaching or counselling initially. Some people have a real phobia of speaking in public and it could stem from an emotional block or lack of confidence.
Attending workshops or seminar to learn more about networking and public speaking could be helpful. Watch my video as a starting point.
Start small. You can always go with a friend to slowly break out of your comfort zone. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of when it comes to networking, the worst things that could happen is you could get bored or being stuck with someone who won’t stop talking about themselves!
When it comes to public speaking, be prepared and practice. Even if your speech isn’t the best speech in the world you can watch it back (film yourself) and learn how to improve.
What three things can you recommend to help women in business overcome their fear?
Talking through it with someone – a friend, a spiritual guide, a coach or a counsellor.
Take time to be self-reflective and build your self esteem. No matter how many people tell you that you are good enough you are not going to believe them until you believe in yourself.
Feel the fear, accept that it exists and do whatever you are afraid to do, regardless.
What’s the difference between being pushy and being self-confident?
It comes down to self-awareness. If you’re pushy and generally obnoxious it will show in how you interact with people. Do you ask people how they are? Actually listen to their response and wait to hear what they have to say? Or are you just waiting for an opportunity to start talking about yourself?
Being self-confident allows you to have valuable, powerful interactions with people. Self-confidence is also about acknowledging another person’s right to shine. When someone else is shining, it gives us the light and motivation to shine brightly too.
Contact Ronke Lawal: @ronkelawal
Free ticket and discounts to PR workshop
If you’ve been inspired to take your brand to the next level, then you don’t want to miss Ronke’s How to Build Your Personal Brand workshop, taking place on 6 April 2017.
One lucky Melanmag.com reader can win a free ticket, simply ‘LIKE’ our Facebook page and email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, with How to Build Your Personal Brand in the subject bar.
Or, use the discount code: MelanMag to receive a £5 off.
Images of Ronke: by Emerzy Corbin