Why trying to be visible is hurting your business
I want to talk about something that’s been troubling me for a little while now. It’s the idea that you have to be visible if you want your business to work, and how for some of us this idea could actually be hurting our businesses.
Watch the video below or scroll down to read more.
In the last six months, I’ve seen a LOT of people running visibility challenges and visibility courses.
Do video. Go Live. Do Reels. Get out speaking or networking. Do a Challenge. BE SEEN!!!
Now, of course this makes total sense. After all if nobody knows you exist then you are going to struggle to get clients, so people need to know you are out there. So putting the focus on getting more visible does make absolute sense. However, many of the heart-centred business owners I work with and who are in my community identify as either highly sensitive or introverted – including myself.
If this is you then I know that the whole idea of being visible can feel very uncomfortable. Whether you’re highly sensitive or an introvert, “trying to be visible isn’t really all that fun”. Our natural instinct is to run and hide from the spotlight – that’s just the way we are wired. But despite that it’s easy to feel like you need to jump on the bandwagon because it seems like everybody is doing it – and then you beat yourself up and start wondering what’s wrong with you when you repeatedly fail to find your flow.
For example, a client of mine was in a visibility challenge and had been challenged to create a video and share it on social media. She was almost sick with fear and anxiety with the idea that she “had” to do this thing. Luckily, she had the support of a wonderful community and they got behind her and encouraged her. She did go and create that video and of course there was a sense of achievement of having gone out of her comfort zone and got it done – but overall it was not a fun day for her.
And I feel the same.
As a highly sensitive introvert I recently found myself feeling blocked around visibility within my own business. I’ve always known that there’s is a lot more I could be doing to raise my visibility. But as soon as I start telling myself I “should” be doing it starts to feel heavy rather than coming a place of inspiration. When this happens it’s easy to procrastinate, and then we start to beat ourselves up for not doing more of what everyone tells us we “should”.
The thing is, I’ve done enough to be visible that it’s worked for me so far. I write regular blog articles and record the occasional video (though I’d like to do more). I also run webinars and I used to do a lot of speaking engagements. As a result I’ve been visible enough to make my business a success and give me a consistent 6 figure turnover for over a decade. But if I’m really honest with myself I also know that I’ve allowed this discomfort to hold me back from reaching even more people.
Despite everything I had done, I still had a block to “being visible”, which I was aware of but wasn’t quite sure what it was or what to do about it.
Then, one day, I had the “aha!” moment:
Of course, I’m a highly sensitive introvert – the last thing I want is to be visible!
It just doesn’t feel “safe” to put myself out there that way. It feels vulnerable and exposed.
It’s hard to even put it into words but on some deep unconscious level the fact of making myself visible to hundreds or even tens of thousands of people feels like I’m putting my very survival at risk.
And of course the problem with this is that while you or I are holding back on being visible, we’re not reaching enough people, and we’re not making the difference we know we can make. And that’s not very fulfilling either.
So I’ve concluded is that for someone who is highly sensitive or introverted, trying to be “visible” is not the answer.
In fact once I thought about it the idea of needing to be more visible started to feel very similar to needing to “close the sale” in a sales conversation. It’s “all about us” and what we should be doing, rather than all about the client and what they need. As a heart-centred business owner, you have very probably gone into business because you feel called to make a difference to other people. You want to serve. You want to care. You want to give. And, yes, you want to get paid for that so that you can make a living doing what you love. So doing things for others is usually easier than doing things for your own benefit.
So here is how I suggest you go about reaching more people:
1. Let go completely of any idea that you need to be visible
From this moment on, stop telling yourself you need to be visible. Just let it go. Then go and do something completely different. Whether you go for a lovely brisk walk outside, make yourself a nice cup of tea and sit quietly for 15 minutes, or take a whole day off. Just let go of the pressure to be visible. Completely. Ahh, isn’t that a relief?
2. Connect in with your ideal client
Once you’ve enjoyed the relief of knowing that it’s okay not to be visible, it’s time to connect in with the vision you have of your ideal client – really tune into them…
Who is it that you’re most called to help? What is it that they are struggling with right now? What’s the biggest challenge that is causing them some pain, some problem, in their life that you know you could help with?
Then think, if you could make a difference to that person right now, today, what would you say to them? If you just had one opportunity ever to get a message across to them that might make a difference in their lives, what would that message be?
3. Go and get that message out
Once you’re clear on what you would say now go and get that message out there! Find a way to communicate it. Any way will do! It could be an article, a video, a Facebook live, a reel. You might come up with a talk topic and reach out to ask for speaking engagements.
You’ll notice that as soon as it’s no longer “all about you”, you’ll stop worrying about whether your hair is tidy enough, or whether the lighting is right, or whether your talk is perfect, because you’ll be so concerned with making a difference and serving the people you’re here to serve.
Suddenly it won’t matter so much to you if somebody out there doesn’t appreciate your message. Because, actually, you didn’t make it for them. What matters is that you’re reaching the people who need to hear you and you will suddenly care a lot less what everybody else thinks.
4. Set the intention to serve
So instead of making the goal about something as vague as “being visible”, set out with the intention of making a difference to a specific number of people this month – what if you set out to make a difference to 1,000 people this month? Or even 200?
Or what if you could aim to make a genuine difference to just one person a day for the rest of this month?
What difference would that make to the action that you take in your business? And to how it feels?
If this article resonates I’d love to encourage you to go out there and serve, care, make a difference – today!
What one thing will you do today to get your message out there?
Do let me know in the comments below, and also let me know if it feels more comfortable and in flow for you than trying to be visible. I always love to hear from you and read all your comments.
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With Love & Gratitude,
Thank you Catherine. This was just what I needed this morning. I’ve had some really traumatic experiences on Social media and the whole idea of needing to come out of hiding and be visible and findable online has been a huge challenge in starting a new business. Your reminder to focus on the client and service has given me the lift I needed today.
Hi Alison, I really think that a huge number of people don’t feel that “safe” on social media – I think it’s easier for very extroverted and/or very confident people but for the rest of us I think our blocks and hesitations are understandable. I really think that you’ll find that when you switch into “being of service” and helping those people who are seeking help, rather than “being visible and findable” will make a huge difference in how you feel about being out there. Thanks for commenting! Catherine
Hi Catherine, thank you for this article. I can completely relate. I have so much resistance to putting myself out there because of the fear of rejection, mainly in the area of social media. I hate the thought of putting out content and getting zero likes and then pulling back and retreating because it feels so terrible. I am working to see it as serving and helping, not looking for validation and acceptance and I truly want to make the switch in perspectives. Thank you.
Hi Jenny, we are so pleased you have found this useful and as long as we are constantly learning these challenges which place us outside of our comfort zone are definitely where the magic happens! Good luck and do stay connected. Helen
Great video, Catherine and so good to be reminded of where my real focus needs to be – on my ideal client and their needs! It’s a constant struggle between keeping an eye on my goal, pricing it all right and remembering that they business is to serve the clients. The business is also for me to make a living. I’d love to find a way to reconcile that in my mind.
Hi Suparna, You are so right, with all the things we need to focus on in business it is so easy to lose sight of why we do it in the first place – because we want to help and serve people! For me there is no conflict between wanting to serve my clients AND make a good living from it. I know I can do both. It’s about finding a win-win where the clients feel they get amazing value in return for what they pay, AND the financial rewards for me feel appropriate to what I put in. When you get that balance business flows like a dream.
This feels like a weight off my shoulders. I am an INFP and highly sensitive person, four months into launching my coaching business. Coming at it from a perspective of ‘making a difference’ rather than ‘being visible’ has a very different, much more motivating and liberating, energy for me! thank you!
I’m so happy you found that helpful Megan. I totally get it because I had a massive block to visibility myself before had the “aha” that if I just shifted my focus to helping people rather than making it “all about me” it would change everything. I’ve been so much more regular with my content since.
Hello Catherine, Thanks for the lovely video. I tottaly agree with you sometimes so many of us focus our intention on the wrong direction and many of us ended up overwhelmed and pressed by the world social biz. I’ve decided to take my message slowly this year. humm I am extroverted but video is not my mean thing I remembered when I set a goal with fellow coach to do our first video I got excited and also overwhelmed. I actually done the video and after reflected on my intention this made me to take the right direction instead of waste time and my energy.
Wish you a happy and prosperous New Year
Hi Catherine – thanks so much for this – I LOVE it!!!! Beautiful and a really important set of distinctions here! It’s very easy to trip up in this area. I’m on a visibility challenge at the moment and I’m enjoying it but there’s something been niggling me a bit and what you’ve written here points to that. Yes – I want to practice being visible and I feel I have a lot to share and it’s fun – for me at least – to have a go at video finally! It’s stretching me but there is something of the energy in a challenge that’s about me pushing me – with the challenge and I suppose ‘pushing’ me out there more – that is definitely different to being in flow and serving and listening and connecting. It’s not black and white as you point to here but there’s something to be aware of at a deeper level. Meanwhile Facebook’s algorithms will do whatever they do anyway!
Thanks so much for your wisdom, honesty and all the Brilliant work you do!!!
Thanks for this post Catherine. Aiming to make a difference to people definitely feels more comfortable and in flow than trying to be visible. A small tweak but a significant one! 🙂 I love what you say about ‘what would you say to your ideal client that might make a difference to them’. It feels inspiring, whereas trying to be more visible feels heavy and clunky. Your article definitely resonates with where I am at the moment.
What a great post! Thank you Catherine. I’ve withdrawn a lot from social media recently as I suffered a bereavement earlier this year and wanted time to think about what I was doing in my business. This idea of sharing rather than ‘trying to be visible’ really resonated with me because although I do want to be visible, when I think about marketing, my mind goes blank. What do I say? When I think about sharing, I can think of lots to say. What a transformation! Thanks again.
This is a fabulous reminder and reframe that whilst familiar to me, I still forget on regular occasions, when I get myself all tied up in shoulds! Thank you so much Catherine for sharing this – I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this timely reminder, as I ‘battle’ with the dilemma of wanting to be seen, but getting exhausted from pushing my comfort zones wider from a place of ‘must’ rather than being of service. It’s a really tricky balance between the two and even though I’m really good at balancing out many aspects of my life, and living from my heart, there are definitely a lot of times where my puppy dog ego sneaks through and takes over! Thanks for shining a light on this and reminding me to pause before sharing x
Thank you Catherine, a timely reminder about changing my focus from how can I get people on my brilliant programme to serving people. It is about them, the client, not me. Having worked and currently working with one of your clients regarding publlc speaking I enjoy doing that but have not pursued opportunities, I will work out why. I am going to practise talking to cameraphone before doing a facebook live as currently that is way outside my comfort zone. Little steps. Thank you again for your video. x
Such a helpful post Catherine, and timely for me as I have struggled with visibility for a long time, so I love that you’re challenging this idea; it does feel like a huge relief just to let go of it! I totally agree about coming from a place of service not self but sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between a healthy stretch outside your comfort zone and being out of flow. I try to listen to my heart and whether there’s a flicker of excitement within the fear rather than out and out dread (!) but it can be tricky to discern. x
Lol I wrote on a piece of paper yesterday “I’m tired of not being seen” after posting yet again in a Facebook group and having my post all but ignored. I want to be seen so that more of my dream clients can find my work and book my services. This video couldn’t have been any more appropriate for trying to embark on the journey of being more visible.
I’m so glad you’ve found it such perfect timing Taryn – it sounds like you are well and truly READY to be seen!
Lovely post. I am not exactly introvert but I have it inside me. Recently I have felt a huge pressure of being visible. I do a lot of videos. I love them but Facebook live something that I do on / off. I want to do a stage work as I want to make a difference, I love it and good at it but I have been so blocked to do it. I have recently connected with my new target market who I need to go for, but I have this blockage inside me of doing it. Thank you for the video. Yes it is about serving them
Hi Lenka, thank you for sharing that this resonated. I know exactly what that feels like to know there is a blockage but not know exactly what is causing it. Linda’s comment on this page is really helpful – the way she describes how she identifies if something is a block because it’s not really her natural flow or because it’s a subconscious fear. If it’s the former you might find that there is an easier way to get the same result that you enjoy more. If it’s a subconscious fear that can be shifted through doing the right sort of “inner” work and you can go forward stronger and serve your people x.
Really resonated with this…and it’s what been happening to me – the talks i said i do made me feel so uncomfortable, plus the pressure i’d put on myself to start a weekly vlog, do another telesummit… Hence why i feel the way i do now and need a break! But as i get clearer on my target client and start working with more of them, i think that natural desire to reach them and help them will take over the fear of visibility like you say. Thanks 🙂 x
Hi Kate, yes it can get really heavy when we put too much pressure on ourselves to do things just because we think we “should” rather than it coming from inspiration and flow. However the truth is that early in my business I pushed myself on to do a lot of things that felt very uncomfortable – it was how I found what felt good and what didn’t. Some things felt heavy and scared me – yet I LOVED them once I got over the initial hump (webinars and Facebook lives for example!). Other things I thought I wanted to do but once I got established I found it wasn’t really what I wanted any more (lots of live speaking and workshops). Taking a break sounds like a great way to lift the fog and start to tune back in to what genuinely feels fun for you. Thanks for sharing x
Wonderful post, Catherine!
Shifting the focus from ‘this is all about me’ to ‘actually this is all about them and how I can best serve them’ is one of the most powerful pieces of work we can do to move forwards with more ease and flow – and have fun and a sense of personal fulfilment at the same time. It can also be a tricky one to navigate.
I notice that whenever I’m in the ‘I should’ or ‘I ought to’ space, whether it’s about being visible or anything else, there’s an undercurrent of anxiety and a feeling that ‘I have to make this happen’, with a very pushy, struggling feel to it that cuts me off from my passion for what I do.
When I recognise I’m in that space I do two things. First of all notice that this doesn’t feel like fun for me, so I step away, take a break and do something that nourishes me instead.
Then I get curious about whether it’s not fun because it’s not in my natural flow or because I’m carrying some subconscious fears around it based on mistaken meanings given to things that happened to me in the past.
If it’s the first, I look for something that would feel good to do instead. If it’s the second, I know that’s a powerful piece of personal development work for me to focus on next.
Doing one without the other is like trying to fly with one wing. When we get ourselves in alignment both inside and out, we soar and it feels good.
The one thing I’m doing today to support me in this, is taking care of me with a break out in Nature – because I am my business 😉
This is such a beautiful, thoughtful response to the ideas I’ve shared in my blog. And I know you know I’ve been exploring my own blocks in this area for a while now, which is how I came to this conclusion. I love how you’ve made the distinction between whether something is just not in your natural flow, or whether you are carrying subconscious fears around it – which of course can be shifted with your work. Your reply makes the perfect addition and extension to what I’d written – thank you for taking the trouble to share that. xx