“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
~ Herman Melville
I want to talk to you about a business practice that when done with the right energy and intention can change everything in your business. It’s a practice that many of my fellow introverts and HSPs often struggle with, so I’m hoping that today’s letter will serve as inspiration to be bold and make a change.
What I’m talking about here is practicing authentic outreach. Now I know, if you’ve been reading my content for a while you have for sure heard me talking about it but even when I work with clients and members of my group programs on this, it’s still always the activity that seems to bring up the greatest amount of resistance.
My definition, in the context of conscious business, is the practice of connecting with people in your network, community and beyond in a direct, personal and meaningful way. We do this for two reasons, to connect, because connection is sacred and to be of service to the people in our world. (Read this for more.)
Our resistance to making connections
In many ways this should be the easiest business practice of all for the introverts amongst you. I mean come on, as introverts aren’t we all about meaningful connection? And as conscious changemakers aren’t we all about being of service? So why then is it something that so many business owners struggle with?
I have a few theories.
First of all connecting in the context of our business can feel icky. So many people do outreach inauthentically as a means to get new clients and drum up business and the idea of coming across in that way stresses out us more conscious types, big time.
Second of all, as introverts, whilst we often crave meaningful 1:1 connection, being in a mode of outreach all the time for our work can feel draining and make us want to hide under the duvet.
And I get it.
I wasn’t all too pleased back in 2014 when my business coach first introduced the concept of outreach either.
Part of my initial resistance and the resistance I now see in many of my clients is because outreach often gets confused with networking.
But the intention behind these two activities couldn’t be more different. With networking the intention is on getting something from the people in your network whereas authentic outreach is about giving something to the people in your network. As I often say to my British clients — authentic outreach really is just about being a good egg. (Click the link if you’re not British!)
Here’s the thing practicing authentic outreach on the regular is a game changer.
What outreach has done for my business
Let me just tell you some of the ways outreach has supported me to get where I am in business.
It has undoubtedly brought me countless clients. To share one example that springs to mind is when I reached out to a fellow participant in an online program I was doing. He mentioned in the group chat that as a result of the program he had decided to switch his focus and become a coach. I dropped him a private note to tell him about a wonderful book about coaching I’d read. I had a PDF copy of the book and asked him if he wanted me to send it over. He replied enthusiastically that he did and not too long later that same person hired me to be his business coach.
Another example is reaching out to any new subscribers who complete the short survey I link to in my welcome email. In that survey I ask the following question: What would you most like support with right now? When time permits I’ll follow up with people based on their answer to that question — I might offer some advice, offer to send over some resources or even, when time permits, offer them a gift session. Many times this has resulted in that person hiring me to coach them.
It has also brought me countless client referrals. Because I try to foster deep relationships with members of my audience and client base (often long after they have worked with me) and I aim to do so with a spirit of generosity, I’m often blown away by how willing people are to refer others to me. I have a steady stream of enquiries from people interested in working with me who have been recommended by former clients or just business friends and connections I have a good relationship with.
Doing outreach with colleagues and mentors has led me to developing wonderful relationships with some of the very experts in my field who I was, just a few years ago, learning from. Check out a recent testimonial the legendary Tad Hargrave gave me:
“In an era where everyone is a business coach, Caroline is one of the few I trust entirely in her orientation, philosophy and competence but, even better, her originality. She’s come up with a number of her own approaches to and twists on things. I always look forward to speaking with her and comparing notes. If you get a chance to work with her as a coach, you’ll be in good hands.”
~ Tad Hargrave, founder of www.marketingforhippies.com
If I hadn’t been in a mode of connection in my business, for sure the opportunity to form a relationship like this would have passed me by.
Another incredible opportunity came about for me in 2021, when I was invited to be a speaker at the Embodiment Conference. I was stunned, it was the biggest speaking opportunity of my career. Turns out George Kao had recommended me to the organisers. Why?
Since first discovering George, back in 2018, I’ve reached out to him many times and never miss an opportunity to share about his work and the impact it’s had on my own business. Turns out George noticed this and as a result paid attention to my work, which he felt was worthy of recommending to the organisers of the biggest online conference ever.
The key to authentic outreach
So many incredible business opportunities have come my way simply because I was willing to reach out and make meaningful connections with people. But where a lot of outreach falls short is in the intention behind it.
The key to successful outreach is that it’s free of expectation or attachment to a particular outcome.
When we share about our mentors’ work in the hopes that they’ll share about ours or we gift coaching sessions to members of our audience in the hopes that those same people will hire us, our outreach ceases to be authentic.
Authentic outreach is reaching out to people with a view to create meaningful connection and genuinely offer support or help to another human being.
Of course, as your business grows, your ability to give a lot of your time away lessens.
I no longer give gift coaching sessions away like I did in my first few years of business. Instead I try to be generous in other ways. Such as trying to give as much value as I can in the content I create or creating other free resources that I think can really help move people in their business growth journey. Sharing generously about other people’s work and taking the time to share free resources that I think may be of benefit when I can.
The key for me is generosity and trying to be generous whenever an opportunity arises for me to do so. Which, might I add, is a wonderful way to do business. Far more rewarding than the sleazy tactics the mainstream marketers will have you sign up to.
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