The REAL Barrier to Growing Your Business & Career Online

There are so many useful resources to teach you information, knowledge, tactics, strategies and skills. Books, websites, videos, courses, seminars, and the like, in both traditional and new media.

But often, we use these resources – read that incredible book, go to that highly regarded seminar – and then go right back into our old routine, implementing none of the useful insight that was shared.

So many approach the web to push their business and career forward, learn the best tips, and fail. Why?

Because many of the barriers to growing our business and career has nothing to do with tactics or strategies, and everything to do with the emotional & social barriers that we put in our own path. I’ll give you an example that I would often see with bloggers I’ve worked with:

  • The setup: I had to work with an expert or writer to launch a blog. The issues people often asked me about were searching for specific tactics that would make the process easy and understandable. It was all presented as tactics and strategy.
  • The real problem: But more often than not, the real barriers in their way weren’t just about content strategy, social media marketing and blog system management, but issues of identity, fear over time management, apprehension of putting yourself ‘out there,’ confusion as to the proper way to interact with other rational adults, and the many stumbling blocks thrown in our own paths that make it easy to feel that blogging wasn’t worth the effort. Even how we measure success suffers from this: focusing on page views as the only metric to judge success, instead of influence, engagement and outcomes.
  • The solution: Sure, I went through proper training and shared all kinds of useful tactics, strategies, and systems for managing their blogs. But the bigger part of my job was to break down the emotional & social barriers standing in people’s way.
    At times, this meant chatting about how we measure success in life, how we interact with others, the mission of our roles in journalism & media, and confronting how we identify who we are in our markets, and the lines between everyone we connect with.

I feel there is about to be an explosion in online education. And admittedly, that is a direction I am moving in. But I think the key is not just to impart knowledge as traditional classrooms did, but in building a system where people can work together to also get over the emotional & social barriers standing in there way.

So much of this is more about confronting fear than it is about tactics and strategies. Again and again I see competent well adjusted adults ask questions about how to act online – on platforms such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. And while there are some interesting tactics and insights for each specific platform, the answer should always be largely the same:

Be a caring helpful human being.

Sure, we all need to understand and be comfortable with something new before we jump in. But the fear behind these questions is often about things like:

  • Confronting our fear of failure. Most people don’t try new things because they are afraid of failing and afraid of looking stupid while doing so. THIS is why you see media companies (and others) repackage the same old tactics in new ways – again and again. They know that it worked in the past, so it is emotionally safer to try it again and again instead of trying something new that could work… or could fail.
  • Confronting how we define ourselves, and how our professional roles are changing due to online media. Suddenly, people without the term ‘vice president’ in their title are gaining stature and building powerful networks. In many ways, this can threaten the most basic ways that we define our self-worth.
  • Confronting how others define us. There are many people with great business titles, who are concerned about losing stature if they Tweet or blog. That – someone of their stature does not go down ‘to that level.’
  • Confronting our own daily routines & productivity – that sure, you can fit blogging into your schedule if you are really honest about which of the tasks you have done daily for decades are REALLY worth your effort, and which are a waste of time. It’s hard for people to change their routines, and they will go to great lengths to defend them.
  • Confronting our fear of others – of expanding our social circles, which are often built as a protective layer of ‘friend’ or ‘stranger.’ Social media has made this so much more porous, and many people are incredibly fearful of putting themselves online, of who may contact them, and even of how to contact those they DO want to meet.
  • Confronting our own limited skillsets. It’s hard for people to say “I don’t know.” That is what I find so powerful about LinkedIn Answers – that professionals using their real names say publicly: “I don’t know something, how do I do this?” That isn’t easy for many folks – some people associate that with exposing their ignorance, their weakness, and are afraid people will realize that they don’t know everything.
  • Confronting exposing our hopes and dreams. In some business environments, it is considered weak and soft to show that you want to grow, that you have hopes and dreams. When you get involved in social media, you are exposing so much more of yourself. You aren’t out there just saying, “I’m awesome,” you are out there saying “I want to grow.” And to many, that is inherently a sign of weakness that they are wary to expose. Why? Because it means others have something they want, and exposing that can make people feel deficient.

So the training courses I am developing focus a lot on REALLY useful tactics and strategies for leveraging online media to grow your business and your career. But they also focus on getting past the emotional and social barriers that stand in our way. That – we need to work together to move into new areas, to build our skills, and build and understanding that failure is just one step on the way to success.