(To my gentleman readers – please pardon this week’s post. You are more than welcome to read it, of course, and there will be advantages to doing so, but it’s really aimed at the females among us. That will make sense momentarily.)
This week’s post comes as a result of three experiences from the past few weeks, all reminders of the necessity of tooting one’s own horn.
We’ll set the stage with one of those experiences; that is, publication this week by the AP of this article
Now, I’m a firm believer that headlines are really only intended to suck us readers in – so I didn’t just take the headline at face value.
I read the full article… Unfortunately, and frustratingly, the headline is a very accurate representation of the research results. And I am appalled.
So much so, that it made me double down on the meat of this post – to be revealed in a moment – and the reason why this matters to us as patient advocates (no matter whether we are male or female.)
The second experience was the opportunity to see the movie, Hidden Figures. It’s the movie about the women – African-American women – who were such an integral part of the success of the NASA space program beginning in the 1960s. Unless you’ve done a great deal of reading and watching recently, very few of you had any idea these women were so important to the space race. Even now, I challenge you to tell me any of their names (No looking them up!)
The fact that you don’t know their names right away proves the point I’m about to make.
The third experience happened during this past week’s APHA Expert Call-in which addressed best practices for developing one’s AdvoConnection Directory Listing (and other marketing, too.) One of the best practices is to be sure to continually add testimonials to one’s listing or website, because they can be highly effective in helping potential clients see that you’ve helped someone who has similar challenges to theirs, and because search engines find them to be rich with keywords. People like testimonials because they support the confidence that they are making a good choice.
But so many advocates balk at the idea of asking for testimonials! They feel as if they are asking for a pat on the back (they are) and that is uncomfortable to them. Why? Because we, in particular we women, are raised and socialized to believe that it’s impolite to toot our own horns. A lady should never ask for praise, or bring attention to something good she has accomplished! We get embarrassed. We pretend we are shy. We let the opportunity go by, and even though we know we should ask, we somehow reconcile in our own heads that we’ll attempt it “next time.” But next time never seems to arrive.
Then there is, therefore, no public representation of our brilliance. Which means – we go out of business, or fail to launch to begin with. And even little girls absorb that insecurity and pass judgment accordingly.
This is the same reason we don’t know the names of the African-American women who worked for NASA. They never tooted their own horns – not even today, except reluctantly.
If you want to succeed as a patient advocate or care manager in business for yourself, you’ll need to learn to step out of your comfort zone and ask for compliments. Not far – it’s not a huge leap. You’ll only be asking for what’s due you! You’ll need to ask people to recognize your advocacy brilliance and to share that information in a way that you can use to attract even more clients.
This is a vital step to your advocacy practice success.
You can begin fairly simply. You might do so with a question, even to a family member or friend you have helped. “If I gave you an easy way to do so, would you be willing to write a few sentences about how I helped you with ____ (whatever you helped them with) ___?”
That’s really easy! You haven’t even asked them to actually DO something. You’ve only asked about the possibility. Of course they will say yes because everyone loves to help! Because you have done something wonderful for them, and now they, in return, have the opportunity to return the favor. They will appreciate that you have given them the opportunity to help you.
From there you can graduate to actually asking them to do something. If you are listed in the AdvoConnection Directory, you can ask them to fill out the brief form available for testimonials. (Please note, we will not publish any testimonials that come from you. We insist on hearing directly from your client. It’s the only way we have to assure ourselves that the testimonial is valid.)
If you aren’t listed in the directory, you can ask them just to send you an email, then you can put the information on your brochure or your own website. Just be sure they know you will use their words in your marketing.
When you’ve done it once, you’ll find it easier to do the next time, and the next time. In the context of business, it becomes second nature after awhile, with no intrusion on your socialized sensibilities. In other words, the ground won’t shake, your ancestors won’t roll over in their graves, the world won’t end, nor will it even think less of you, and you will have the endorsements you need for your marketing, including your directory listing.
There is no doubt that “brilliance” is not about one gender or another. We recognize that sadly, women, even more so than men, have a tough time getting past this hurdle of asking for compliments. Another day I would also emphasize this very point as being the one that would help women command equal pay and equal rights under the law – larger issues that find this lack of tooting one’s own horn at their roots.
As business owners, we have no choice but to ask for the recognition that is due us. So ask! You are worth it. YOU are brilliant.
And those little girls need a reality check.
Resources for learning to ask for compliments and tooting one’s horn:
- Tooting Your Own Horn, and Playing a Tune People Want (and Need) to Hear
- Are You an Impostor?
- Oh, It Was Nothing, Really
- Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and My Mother Are Turning Over in Their Graves
- Meet Peggy Klaus, Author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It