You Must Be Present to Win – Thoughts on the Importance of Showing Up

When I first heard this quote, I thought of it in the traditional sense. “Showing up” meant going to the meeting, the party, the networking luncheon, even when I didn’t feel like it. It meant being there physically and, if I had the energy, being there mentally as well.

I’ve since started my own coaching business and have found that “showing up” is the foundation of my marketing strategy. It goes well beyond the physical definition of showing up. I’ve experienced four distinct ways to “show up” that you can apply anytime, anywhere.

Who are you? Before you form the intention that you’re going to show up more often in more places, who are you showing up as? Think about your personal presence and what attracts clients and customers to you. As a coach, I show up with a coaching presence: attentive, curious and nonjudgmental, mixed with my personal style of being generally calm and in good humor. What is your presence? Are you playful? High energy? Serious? Curious? Reassuring? Provocative? And how does that presence align with what your current and potential clients expect of you? Showing up as your authentic self, with the energy and passion you bring to your work, goes deeper than “walking the talk.” It gives you the edge that allows you to stand out in a crowd.

Once you’ve discovered how you’re going to show up authentically (and that probably includes being able to effortlessly share that daggone elevator speech we all sweat over!), the next step is to determine your strategy in four areas: showing up to people, through people, for people and for yourself.

1. Showing up to people: Be seen and heard. This is perhaps the most obvious of the showing up opportunities. It means to be completely present – physically, emotionally, mentally – to others. You give the situation your full attention and energy. And no matter where you are showing up, you are representing your business. Are you showing up in a way that reflects your values and attitudes about success and client service? What’s your intention when you enter a room of people? For me, the question is “what do I have to offer here?” rather than “what will I get out of this?” This mindset allows me to receive ideas and opportunities in that might otherwise have been filtered out.

How do you use your social media networks? Think about how you can show up authentically through your blog, website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all of the ways you are connected to friends and colleagues. The other day, I received an e-mail from a friend I’d not spoken to in a while. She remarked that she’d always been “tempted by my invitations” and had decided to take action and contact me about coaching. Since I’d taken care to use my online presence as an extension of how I physically show up as coach, my sharing of wins and opportunities were received as “invitations,” not sales pitches.

One last point about showing up to people: it includes stretching yourself into situations that may be outside your comfort zone. Recently I was talking to a designer at a mastermind meeting, and he mentioned that he put in a bid for a big contract, knowing that he wasn’t going to get it because he was “too young.” Whether or not I agree with the “too young” statement, the point is that he put himself out there, and consequently is gaining critical experience. Moreover, he is “showing up” to people who might hire him in the future – he’s not going to be too young forever! Go for the big job, client and customer; show up big and see what happens!

Bottom Line #1: Get out, be seen, be heard, be real.

Ask Yourself: In what ways can I show up to others that will stretch my comfort zone and best share what I have to offer?

2. Showing up through people: Be in ten places at once. Recently I was out of town at a training session. When I returned, I hadn’t been home ten minutes before my husband told me that he’d reconnected with a childhood friend in Minnesota who was interested in becoming a coaching client. Wow! Two things led to it: first, his sister knew what I was doing and told this friend. Then she talked to Andy, and he mentioned it. Without me needing to be present, two people promoted my services, and a client was born.

Find those people who are your biggest cheerleaders and advocates. They could be family members, friends, teachers, mentors and professional colleagues. Reach out intentionally and say “Let’s learn more about each other’s businesses and needs so we can extend our reach to more people.” Know the basics of their services, exchange ten business cards and make it easy to talk about each other. Share what you’re both looking for in clients and projects.

Remember your former satisfied customers and clients in this equation, and stay in touch as your business grows and evolves. Their testimonials, success stories and referrals are the ultimate in showing up through others.

Bottom Line #2: Collaboration beats competition, and it allows you to be in many places at once.

Ask Yourself: Who are my biggest advocates, and what can I do to enable us to support each other’s needs?

3. Showing up for people: Prosperity trumps scarcity. Since we’re all about collaboration, we recognize that a competitive attitude leads to a scarcity mentality. Seeing things through a competitive lens means that there’s only so much to go around: finite resources, clients, projects and opportunities. That mindset leads to isolation and fear, two deal-breakers for any entrepreneur. As a successful professional, you recognize that showing up for other people creates community and shared prosperity. It extends your network in unexpected ways. And you have the potential to learn something new from everyone you meet.

We show up for others when we attend a workshop or event they are hosting. I hosted my first teleclass a few weeks ago, and several other coaches participated in support of my new endeavor. I can’t tell you how wonderful that felt! Send a handwritten, snail-mail thank you note when someone gives you a referral, testimonial or useful resource. Write a comment on a colleague’s blog, reciprocate a link, “retweet” or give them a Facebook “thumbs up” when you like something they post. Take a moment to write a compliment or reference on someone’s Biznik or LinkedIn profile, and ask that they do the same for you when it’s appropriate.

I believe that there’s an element to showing up for others that involves “success by association.” The more I’m around the people who have done the things I want to do – write a book, host successful workshops, give keynote speeches – the more “normalized” such activities become. My support of their success means I have increased opportunities to learn from them and view them as role models or mentors. And if you’ve reached the success that others crave? Be there for people like me, who want to be encouraged and reminded that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

When practicing this particular intention, it’s important to show up authentically. It’s obvious if you don’t want to be at the event or workshop, or if your comments are insincere and boilerplate. It’s better to write a “sorry I missed it” note than to only be half-present.

Bottom Line #3: An attitude of prosperity beats one of scarcity every time.

Ask Yourself: What are some ways I can show up for others and express a genuine interest in their success?

4. Showing up for yourself: Keep up your strength. “This above all: To thine own self be true.” These words of Shakespeare’s Polonius in “Hamlet” sound simple enough, yet the implications are profound. Coaches are among those professionals who have done deep personal work around core values, strengths and goals, and they support others through their own discovery process. Based on the work I’ve done, I’m clear about what types of self-care are going to best support me. That consciousness allows me to make choices based on honoring that which is most important to me. In my case, it’s scheduling my days in a way that reflects my natural rhythm and energy. It’s taking time for a nap, volunteering for community groups I care about, and saying “no” to the fourth evening event in the same week. Think about what values are most important to you and how you are turning those values into actions. Staying true to your core and practicing meaningful self-care means you will have more energy for all of the other showing up you want to do!

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