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Do you stop yourself from sharing your message online or in meetings because of what others will think about you? Are you an expert at what you do? As introverted entrepreneurs, we tend just to let our work speak for itself because we don’t want to feel like a sleazy salesperson when talking about our services or what we offer. At the same time, your knowledge is power, and when you begin sharing your expertise with others more consistently in a confident way, you will become the go-to person or thought leader in your field. This can be a very powerful thing, especially for introverts, who want to stay authentic to who they are while being seen as a unique leader.
Our guest on the podcast today is Leadership Mentor Rebecca Muriuki. She helps black women professionals expand into their full potential and stand out as leaders in their careers to create generational wealth and prosperity. These women have been able to own their voice, feel confident to be themselves, and get seen and valued for the skillset they bring to their organizations. She has also helped women create stand-out personal brands that remain true to who they are while elevating them as go-to thought leaders in their field.
In this episode, Rebecca and I dive into:
Rebecca has run quite a number of businesses in her entrepreneurial journey, which started around 10 years ago. She was ambitious and hardworking. That’s all she needed to make it big, right? It turns out that something was missing for her, so she decided to find more purpose in what she was doing. She started her first business, an African-inspired online fashion boutique. It began as a hobby for Rebecca, but once things started to pick with customers and PR features, she knew it couldn’t be treated as a hobby anymore. She felt like she should have had better systems in place from the beginning because she has learned that putting them on the back burner after working long hours and trying to solve the issue alone would take even more time to sort out. Even after hiring some help and putting processes in place, it still took a significant toll on her mentally and physically. It wasn’t worth it for her anymore, so she shut the business down.
Having learned so much from that experience, Rebecca took all of that and packaged it up in a way that she could help other women create really simple systems to make their businesses work easier. As she began giving this support to her clients, and even though she had the expertise, her upbringing and cultural background as an introvert held her back from sharing her voice in a confident way about systems and operations. This pattern was also flowing through in her corporate career, which she still works full-time. The more she talked to women in both the corporate space and in business, specifically women of color, she realized that this was one of the areas that were holding them back from becoming truly impactful leaders. No matter how good you are at what you do, if you’re not able to articulate it in a way that other people can appreciate and recognize your expertise, Rebecca says, then it’s not going to help you make that impact and create generational wealth. Rebecca pivoted once again in her business, and for her, it has been such a fulfilling experience to support and guide women through using their voices to speak up.
Often in the leadership space, the tips that are being shared about standing out and being seen as a thought leader are more geared for extroverts or those who love going live to talk. While Rebecca believes that introverts need to play to their strengths, it’s also important to look back at your limiting beliefs and ask two questions. Is it true, or is it because of your personality?
One of the things that Rebecca used to say to herself was that she couldn’t speak in public. She dreaded going into face-to-face meetings before the pandemic because if she didn’t say anything during the meeting, she would feel bad about not making an impact or helping generate ideas for the topic being discussed. It’s important to reframe your mindset around things like this and build upon them. You can start small if it is something like public speaking. Rebecca intentionally made a point to give herself a challenge every day in any meetings she had; she would make sure to raise her hand and share an unsolicited opinion. You don’t have to have several ideas, so just say one thing. You can even prepare ahead of time if you know what the topic will be on at the meeting, and then give yourself that space to speak up.
The other thing that Rebecca hears introverts and women in particular saying is that their work will speak for itself. You don’t want to toot your own horn, especially as a woman, but you feel you have to be given permission before acknowledging your accomplishments. Most of the time, you even deflect when someone tries to provide you with a compliment about your work. It seems to be the complete opposite for men as they naturally brag. When you start reframing your mindset, instead of thinking that your work will speak for you, it’s important to start telling people about your work. When you consistently do that, you will become more recognizable as the thought leader you are. Reframing your mindset lets you step into your power.
The concept of being a thought leader comes from the point of having something of value to share. You have a unique skill set sought out by those who need your expertise. For Rebecca, a thought leader is someone who is recognized as an authority figure in a specific field. When you continue to show up and speak in the areas where your expertise is required and valued, you naturally become a thought leader. It is in reach for women because you have so much experience and built-up knowledge. Even if you don’t have the experience, Rebecca says, then that information is given to us freely because of the information era we live in. As long as you are proactive and really driven to understand complex concepts, trends, or interesting research around your field of expertise, it is easy to step into that space of thought leadership and build those relationships.
One of the things that Rebecca has been talking a lot about lately is creating your value proposition or elevator pitch. Your value proposition is why people should choose you. The three questions you should ask yourself around this topic are:
These are the things that you need to start picking out and start to use to create that value proposition of what is unique about you and requires some intentionality. It will require some work to answer these questions to create that elevator pitch or value proposition. The more you practice it, the more easily it will come to you when someone asks online or in person. You can weave it into your content and anywhere else that your expertise is required. When you continue to be consistent about it, more people will remember you as you build that influence around your personal brand.
Then the rest is really about sharing your knowledge and doing so on repeat. This is something that everyone can do. If writing comes naturally to you, then sign up for opportunities to write articles because there are places where your expertise is sought. Doing this over time will build and nurture trust and credibility. This is an excellent way to leverage your experience, so talk about the good things your clients are saying about your work, especially as introverts. You may think it sounds like you are bragging or showing off, but really it is showing the potential clients how you have helped past clients for the same things they need help for. Once you put all these things on repeat, it will be so easy for you to create that consistent, personal brand that people can start to now recognize.
I think it is essential to elaborate on this topic for introverts. You don’t want to sound like a sleazy salesperson when talking about what you do, but that’s an extreme way that you think of talking about yourself. This holds you back from even talking about your offers, services, or yourself at all. If you want people to know what you do and how you can help them, you need to share that information above and beyond social media and your website. The easiest way to do this, Rebecca says, is by creating that elevator pitch and giving yourself a challenge to share your expertise weekly, whether that is by looking for collaborations or opportunities to speak about what you do. The more you talk about that value proposition, the more natural it will come to you, and it’s just going to be so much easier to talk about it even when people ask you. If you’re consistently talking about your value proposition, it will become so much easier for you to talk about it right off the bat.
There are ways that you can begin looking for collaborations and opportunities to contribute to different websites if you love writing, for instance. Even with the larger publications, you can look for the ones with smaller, more niche audiences where you can dive deeper into the topic for the people that need your help. For example, Rebecca loves Brains magazine and Women Thrive magazine. If you aren’t someone who loves doing Instagram lives with someone else or at all, these are really great options where you can start to add value. Podcasts are another great way to share your expertise. If you are more in the professional space, then LinkedIn is a great platform to talk about trends and share your knowledge. These will naturally elevate you into that thought leadership role. People begin asking or inviting you to speak to their audiences or something along those lines depending on who your audience is. It will require consistency and challenge yourself, but eventually, you will get to that point where you are the go-to person. You have built up credibility, and you are becoming the thought leader in your industry, which is powerful.
Rebecca gave many powerful tips and insights on challenging yourself to speak up and become an expert or thought leader in your field. She went from overwhelmed online boutique owner to a leadership mentor for women of color. She shared the most prevalent mindset struggles for the leadership space right now. What a thought leader is and how to become one yourself. We also talked about the power of creating a standout personal brand for yourself as an introvert and talking about your services more as an introverted entrepreneur instead of just focusing on adding value.
[1:34] Rebecca’s background in owning an online African-inspired boutique to becoming a leadership mentor for women
[10:18] The most prevalent mindset obstacles that people face in leadership space
[18:28] What a thought leader is, and how to become one as an introvert
[21:35] How to create a standout personal brand for yourself or share things that aren’t business-related
[30:23] Rebecca’s three favorite marketing methods to share her expertise
[33:18] The freebie that Rebecca has with practical tips on how to show up confidently and stand out as a thought leader
If you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to take a screenshot and tag me on your Instagram stories @introvertcoach and tell me your biggest takeaway!
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