Are you an imposter?
Well, are you? If you’re like me, that thought probably has snuck into your mind at your most vulnerable times. Perhaps you’re at a networking event where you don’t feel comfortable. Maybe business has been in a slump. Or maybe you’ve been eyeing up your competition and you find yourself wanting.
That question cuts deeply.
Am I good enough?
Only you can answer that question. And if the answer is no, only you can change that. The truth of the matter: to feel like an expert, you need to act like one. No one is going to do the hard work to make you feel legit. You’ve got to do that for yourself.
Start today with these exercises I’ve created for you to overcome the Imposter Syndrome.
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Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen. Give yourself a little quiet space. Maybe pour yourself a coffee or a soda. Keep the kids and the pets at bay. You’re going to spend as much time as you need thinking about your goals and how you’re going to get there. Ready?
Think about your business goal. For me, I wanted to be seen as an expert in branding. That in itself is rather ambiguous, though – I certainly didn’t feel like an expert when I first did this exercise.
Once you settle on your big goal, list down the left-hand side of the page the things that make other people look like an “expert.” (Or fill in whatever your goal is here.) Only when you have that list of ways that other people demonstrate their expertise to you, think about actions that YOU can take to be seen the same way.
Here’s one iteration of the exercise I’ve done for myself:
|Things experts do||Actions I can take|
|People turn to them for advice||Create content (podcast, blog, book) and offer 1-on-1 consulting, create a course|
|Network of successful peers/friends||Share other people’s content, travel to events/meet people while traveling, have conversations, comment on their content, dinners, interview successful people on the podcast (with a unique angle – behind the brand), some kind of blog tour/summit?|
|Learn & grow||Hire a coach, read books, interview successful people on the podcast, attend a high-end event?|
|Speak||Speak for free whenever possible, keep doing podcasts/webinars, pitch speaking gigs and podcast interviews|
|Make money||Offer consulting, sell a course, sell books (brand planner/customer research)|
|Glowing testimonials||Ask consult clients, successful friends once I do the work/build relationships. Identify people in my life now I could ask.|
|Create||Podcast, visual business art, blog|
Once you’ve finished it, keep it at hand. Make sure that you refer to it from time to time and amend it as you need. When you begin feeling less-than-impressive, look over your action items– the ones that you have yet to complete and the ones you’ve checked off.
I Love Me Exercise
For the next exercise, create a massive list of all of the reasons that you deserve to paid for your product/service. Aim for a list of 50 to start. This is like your resume on steroids. I call this list the “I Love Me” document.
Think about past work experiences, things your friends/clients/peers compliment you on, all of your special advantages, results you’ve helped projects/people achieve, places you’ve been published, awards, personality attributes that make you nice to work with… you get the idea. No matter how small or insignificant something feels to you, put it on the list.
Things that are on my list:
- I started my first business at 16… been at this game for a long time.
- I designed my first website at age 11.
- My clients tell me that I see and understand them intuitively.
- Projects I’ve worked on have been featured on Forbes.com and other publications.
- I’m friendly.
- I have a degree in marketing.
- I have a kiddo to feed. (Soon two of them!)
- etc., etc., etc.
It’s going to feel awkward but work through the exercise. You ARE worth the money that you charge and you are certainly worthy of being in business. Prove it to yourself.
Bonus points: pick out your three strongest points from the document and make sure they are on your website’s about page.
Look like a Pro
There’s a lot to be said about looking the part you want to have. When you feel better about yourself, when you feel like you can compete with the other people in the room, then you’ll feel like the success you can be. The same goes for your online presence.
There are so many things you can do to snazz up your identity. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few action items that will get you on the right path quickly:
- Get professional photos taken
- Make sure your website is clean and easy to navigate (I recommend Squarespace for DIY sites. It’s hard to make them look bad.)
- Have a friend proofread your site and content for mistakes. If you can, hire a professional to do this.
- Write in a friendly first-person voice. Don’t distance yourself with corporate-sounding third-person content.