The woman sitting in front of me asked me inquisitively, “Qui vois-tu?”
I stared down into my chai latte, thinking, “Why did no one tell me this could happen? What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Three potential responses ran through my mind, in approximately this order:
“Can I respond in French?”
doubtful, the only phrase I could mimic was one my Quebecian Mère offered as a sharp intercession when we were too loud– fermez la bouche. My high school French was an utter disaster that I retained nothing of except that maybe I don’t actually have any French blood in me.
“Do I just pretend like I know what she asked me?”
dicey, given that I both don’t really know French AND I also suck at improv. There’s little to no historical evidence that I will be able to fake my way through this.
“Should I confront her for the assumption that I know French?”
distasteful, her assumption is probably due to the French surname I insisted on keeping, even though there is a huge stack of reasons of why it would have made sense to change it when I got married–all of which got outweighed by one of my core values, namely: fuck the patriarchy.
Those two seconds of trying to figure out how to respond played for an eternity. In it, I saw the utter demise of everything–not just my practice, but my entire life. (My anxiety has always had a flair for the apocalyptically dramatic).
The simple answer, that I probably actually gave, was “I don’t speak French.”
And yet when I used to go on these networking dates, the simple answer never felt good enough.
Sitting there with my going-cold chai, listening to this very nice therapist talk (in English, thank God) about her practice, I made the decision that networking wasn’t for me. I didn’t need a community, I didn’t need anyone but myself to build my practice.
I never wanted to be sitting across the table and not have the answer again. “I don’t like networking, so I don’t have to do it,” was my very reasonable internal mantra.
And, because I like to make things complicated, I decided instead of building my practice by networking (like so many of my peers and mentors had done), I would instead master online marketing.
Or to put it psychoanalytically, my defenses proposed overachieving and gathering all the information as a way to compensate for all my discomfort and perceived incompetence at relationships.
My psyche’s response?
Because here’s the thing no one tells you when you’re aiming to build your practice through online marketing: effective marketing is deeply relational.
It requires you to know yourself deeply and risk knowing others with a similar depth.
It requires understanding your strengths without hiding behind them, owning and cultivating your desires for more, and boldly dismantling the defenses–within yourself and in your potential clients–that stand in the way of connecting.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because my guess is it's not really marketing that scares you (networking with others included), it's simpler and infinitely harder than that…
you're scared to be seen
And I don’t want your fear to get in the way of you thriving.
Unless you’re in touch with what it is you actually need and want in your practice (and frankly, in your life), then you may build a successful practice that feels empty of what it is you really need and want.
Because when it comes down to it, until you’re willing to get in touch with what you’re avoiding in doing this work, I can offer you all the strategy in the world, but all you’ll hear is metaphorically garbled French.
Écoutez, je vous pousse parce que vous êtes doués,
P.S. It’s my favorite irony that by focusing so much on content marketing in building my practice, I actually discovered that networking can be fun…when you take the pressure off.
Because I’m free to show up as myself without having to prove myself. Turns out when you take the shame and pressure out of an activity, it becomes stunningly easy to do.
So come grab imaginary coffee with me–take marketing style quiz–and we'll unearth the real reason your marketing isn’t working for you—so you can stop wasting time and money in building your dream business.
All in less time than your last awkward networking date.