You know the old saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” I don’t love that saying, because if it were true, then my job would apparently be a comfy, cozy troll under a bridge. I’m not mad about it.
I think a better saying – especially for those of us working on our visibility, personal brand, and thought leadership – is to share content from the perspective of the leader you want to embody, even if you don’t always 100% feel like you’re good enough – or whatever enough – to do it. That feeling is a trick. We’ve been lovingly bamboozled by our inner chaperone, who works so hard to keep us safe, hidden and protected.
The reason that’s a problem, is because we have wisdom and insights to share – and it isn’t helping anybody if we bottle those innovative thoughts up inside. My favorite tool to get into right relation with my inner chaperone is a high-five file, or an ongoing accounting of the testimonials and positive feedback that flows my way. It’s not just about tooting your own horn (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) It’s actually super helpful to inspire ongoing thought leadership content ideas because you have a record of the things that your audience is already telling you has positively impacted them. You will never run out of things to share if you have a running file of positive feedback.
And my gift to you, in honor of Pisces season, is a free copy of my High-Five File template for Notion. You can use it to easily keep track of all your high fives and continue to embody the leader that other people already see you as. Keep listening, you’re in the right place.
Highlights from the podcast episode:
How a high five file boosts your confidence and content
As a thought leadership consultant and coach, I have worked with folks who have never posted anything on LinkedIn before, as well as those who have built 7-figure businesses as go-to, trusted voices in their niche using LinkedIn. And everything in between. Overall, I’d put the people reaching out to me for support into three categories.
First, I work with folks I call Emerging Entrepreneur or Emerging Executives.
They come to me because they’ve been thrust into a higher level of leadership. Maybe they’ve just founded a new company or consulting firm, or they’ve been elevated into CEO or Executive Director of a nonprofit, or are ready to start doing paid public speaking, launch a podcast, or release their first book. They need to start building trust as a face of their work, but don’t have a consistent strategy for their content, or maybe they’re not getting traction doing what they’re doing.
Imposter thoughts and content blocks come up here because this new level of visibility and leadership is new. We’re stretched out of our comfort zone and haven’t quite found our voice. It feels super weird to market ourselves if we haven’t had to do it before. Maybe we feel a little out of our element, and we’re not really sure what to say because, well, things are new.
Second, I work with people who are Booked and Busy Bosses. They’ve grown their business and there’s so much going on, that they don’t have the time or the white space in their brain, to pull out and share their unique insights and point of view. Maybe they post something right before a big presentation or webinar or event, but they struggle to maintain consistent visibility to either get better aligned opportunities or continue to grow their pipeline.
Imposter thoughts and content blocks come up here because it feels like pulling teeth to turn their brilliant opinions into actual content. When you’re drinking from a fire hose, there’s usually so many little gems that show up on a daily basis but you’re moving so fast you can’t capture them and maximize them.
Finally, I work with Undercover Experts. These clients come to me because they’re specialists in their field; but aren’t as influential as they’d like to be. They work so hard, yet the amount of recognition they have doesn’t match their level of excellence. And it’s not really about recognition for them or having their name up in lights, it’s more about influence… it’s about having a larger voice to build a movement and awareness around your work to have a larger impact.
Imposter thoughts and content blocks come up here because they’re unsure they have anything worthwhile to say, even though they’re doing this work on a daily basis and probably have lived experience in the issue, as well. Who else has that level of knowledge and expertise? The other piece here is that often, they don’t fit the male, pale, and stale model of leadership that we are just so used to seeing. And so, when it comes to getting visible and sharing content on LinkedIn, of course, it’s scary.
Imposter Thoughts, Negativity Bias, and Thought Leadership
No matter what category you fit into, you are a human being. And imposter thoughts is par for the course, because human beings are survivors. We’re resilient. And that’s in part because we’ve evolved to pay more attention to negative information, stimuli, or feedback than the positive stuff. Negativity bias, also sometimes called positive-negative asymmetry, is a psychological phenomenon where we’re more likely to remember that one negative remark in an overwhelming sea of positive praise and affirmation. Does that sound familiar?
It’s literally human nature to remember insults more than we remember kudos, to think about negative experiences in our past more than positive ones, and internalize those negative experiences into stories that we continue to tell ourselves.
Other than just the issue of our own human suffering, here’s the problem in that. People follow the leaders they know, like, and trust. They’ll roll up their sleeves and jump into the arena to help you make shift happen. They’ll invite you to interesting gatherings, panels, and partnership opportunities. They’ll invest in your consulting offers and coaching programs because they trust you can make a difference for them. They’ll introduce you to other people and further your mission.
But negativity bias, imposter thoughts, and systematically limited beliefs like perfectionism, keep us from showing up. So, we leave transformational opportunities at the table because we’re not AT the table to get these opportunities.
One powerful way to dismantle perfectionism and imposter thoughts is to create a culture of celebration! That’s where the high-five file comes in.
This isn’t a CV or a resume, this is really something just for you. It’s a list of the testimonials your clients text you, complimentary DMs from listeners of your podcast or readers of your book, it’s the positive feedback from your speaking engagements, that will otherwise just get lost in your inbox or simply disappear from your brain as soon as you remember that one mean comment from your 5th grade bully or old boss.
Without your high-five file, it’s easy to give into those thoughts of like:
“Well, I know they asked me to speak at this conference but … they must have been short on candidates. Or maybe it was just luck, or a computer error.” But what if you had a whole dang list backing up why you’re an awesome speaker to look through when those thoughts come up? You know what I mean?
OK, so at this point, maybe you’re clear on how a high-five file can help dismantle those imposter thoughts and show up differently, in a more embodied way. But a high-five file is also great for coming up with content ideas.
You can post an impromptu text from your 1:1 coaching or consultant client about their success – obviously with their permission – as a casual testimonial.
You can turn a series of DM’s or texts sharing what was helpful about your last podcast episode and go deeper into a post about that specific thing.
You can turn positive speaker feedback into a post as you share your availability for speaking opportunities.
You can turn a positive moment from your group coaching program or mastermind into a post for your next relaunch. Or a LinkedIn poll, where you ask your audience something about what’s stopping them from getting that outcome while trying to get results on their own?
Why is LinkedIn content important?
I mean, I could keep going. But instead, let’s talk about why content is even important. Like, we all talk about content. Content, content, content. But why?
When you’re consistently showing up with thoughtful content, those posts work as a 24/7 marketing team. Let’s say your client likes your post. Their colleagues are going to start seeing your name and your content come up too. And your clients probably have friends who also struggle with the issue you’re helping them with. Right?
Also, you will educate and inspire. One of the cool things about thought leadership on LinkedIn is how large your impact and reach becomes. Out of all the people reaching out and starting to let you know how much your content inspired them to think about things differently or that hire you, there are probably 10 times as many who also felt that way and just haven’t told you yet.
And third, when folks eventually hop on a discovery call or in the DM’s or in their first meeting with you – they are already bought in! You never have to sell them on what you have to offer because they already know, like, and trust you through your content. Your discovery calls become fun and easy, like you’re talking to a friend.
Without consistent content, you potentially miss out on a whole world of 2nd degree connections and potential supporters who don’t yet know about your awesomeness. It’s way harder to stay top-of-mind with referral partners, even when they have a perfect fit person to send your way. The world is noisy, loud, and distracting, so content helps us build top of mind trust. And, without consistent content – this is the worst thing – your ideal client will keep struggling with their issue. Maybe they’ll just never get support at all. It’s not just about getting the client, it’s about changing hearts and minds at scale. And if you’re not sharing your opinions, you can’t impact people who struggle with the issue you work on. And that sucks.
To that end, I’m gonna be taking folks through a LinkedIn content sprint in April. We’re going to strategize, batch, and schedule six months of thought leadership content that will help you stay top of mind with your community and lead to opportunities and sales. I’m all about sharing content on LinkedIn because I’ve seen how it has democratized thought leadership. Everybody can build an influential platform for our mission, and have access to power brokers, decision makers, supporters, clients, to open up doorways of opportunity to solve the problems we work on.
When I say problems, I’m talking about things like changing the way nonprofits build internal culture. Or making the mental health care sector equitable and inclusive. Or helping companies make more impact and retain their staff by incorporating a CSR strategy. There’s sooo many other examples, but if you found your way to this particular podcast, I already know you solve a very issue with your own unique take on a solution.
So friends, let’s get your high five file going! There’s probably so many waiting in your Outlook archives, your LinkedIn DMs, old surveys from talks and webinars you’ve done. Or, just start fresh. That’s cool too.
For a long time, I just stuck emails into a folder in Outlook but I’ve realized I miss out on a ton of high fives coming in from other spaces. So, I asked my amazing VA to create a High Five File template in Notion, to keep track of these little bits of goodness, down to the link, so we can mark if I have consent or not to share that high five publicly, noting what category it’s in so I can easily refer back and find the right testimonial for the right launch, and the list goes on!
Connect with me:
LinkedIn: Tania Bhattacharyya