Emily Aborn Content Copywriting and Consulting Services

What Does Showing Up Really Mean?

I’m not your typical “WORD OF THE YEAR” person.

I like having a general focus, goal, and vision for the year ahead.

I like hearing what other people choose for their word of the year… but I don’t like trends and doing things other people are doing. So, in true go big or go home Emily-style, I’ve always circumvented the potential for following a trend by choosing two words each year. 

This year, my words were INTENTION and VISIBILITY. 

I’ll weave intention in another day… it’s definitely made its debut this year, but today I want to focus on visibility and how it went down. 

The reality is that visibility is more than we think. It comes with both gifts and challenges.

In January, I focused the entire month on visibility. I interviewed podcast guests: Terri Trespicio, Laura Belgray, Angela Lussier, and Julie Brown on ways we, as entrepreneurs can be more visible and overcome fears around showing up. 

Check out those episodes here: 

I made it my personal goal in January to reach out to as many people as possible – networking in new ways, pitching to be on podcasts, sparking collaborations, and more. 

I headed into 2022 visibility my primary focus, and I learned a lot as the months went on. 

What visibility actually is (or could be) as an entrepreneur. 

In short, visibility is getting your message out there and seen. We often associate it with showing up on social media, attending networking events, and gaining speaking engagements but it can take many different forms. 

At the root of visibility is connection. Creating connection with your ideal clients, with your audience, with those you’re collaborating with, and creating connection by remaining consistent. 

Whether you’re on a podcast, writing a social media post, speaking to a live audience, attending an After Hours, you need to create connection in order for your message to land and resonate with the person on the other side. 

Here are some specific forms I chose to focus on visibility this year:

  • Guest podcast opportunities 
  • Workshops and presentations
  • Small group programs
  • Showing up consistently on social media and email 
  • Networking in new groups, 1:1, and specific online communities 
  • Cleaning up my branding and messaging 
  • Submitting articles for publications
  • New collaborations
  • And facilitating my OWN opportunities like open Office Hours, and more! 

And here are some more ideas for you: 

  • Being a guest on someone else’s platform – ie. Facebook Live, Instagram Live 
  • Guest blogging 
  • Doing your OWN Facebook Live or Instagram Live 
  • Co-hosting events
  • Sponsoring events 
  • Starting a book club or discussion group
  • Creating a summit
  • Starting an online challenge 
  • Sending thank you cards to people you have 1:1 meetings with 
  • Building quality and genuine relationships 

Visibility Takes Time 

Getting traction around visibility is not a one-and-done deal. It takes time, consistency, and follow-through. 

It can be frustrating when you don’t hear back from that podcaster you pitched to. Or the publisher of the magazine said he’d get back to you and hasn’t, or you feel like you’re showing up on social media isn’t paying off and giving you the ROI you desire. You might get discouraged. Sometimes you attend networking event, after networking event, after networking event and you still feel like you’re not meeting the people you want to be.

Visibility takes time and it can even take longer than you expect. 

It tends to not just “happen” and requires a level of effort and commitment to reaching out and putting yourself out there. 

When I was a kid, I used to have a fantasy of being “discovered” and becoming an overnight star. I thought someone would somehow find one of my journals or blogs, think it was the best thing since sliced Wonder Bread and I’d wake up and magically be Emily Dickinson. While of course, things go viral and we do hear about these stories of overnight success and fame… that’s not usually how it goes for most of us. Most of us have to start by showing up for ourselves first and taking action steps to connect with the people we want to “discover” us. 

With time and consistency, it gets easier, and each step you take builds upon the last. 

You Surprise Yourself When You Decide to Get Visible

One thing I learned this year was that there’s a level of boldness to showing up. It’s not confidence at first, persay, but more of a courage to take the initial action, and the confidence comes later! 

As I’ve courageously reached out to some people and places I’m sure were going to turn me down and say no, I’ve been pleasantly surprised!! 

I’ve been surprised that I DO have the ability to do far more than I ever thought possible. My creativity has at times left me feeling very proud and surprised as new ideas flood in. 

And sometimes, I’m surprised when things don’t go the way I’d hoped. Or there’s a bad after-effect. I’ve been surprised at some of the disappointment and discouragement I’ve felt, some of the fears and anxieties I didn’t even know I had. And I’ve been surprised at how I can move through them more quickly with awareness and eyes wide open. 

Visibility is a Two-Way Street 

It’s a gift to others when you decide to show up. It’s also a gift when others collaborate with you to help you show up. 

When you’re a guest on someone else’s podcast, when you get an opportunity to present a workshop or meet with someone you’ve been really wanting to, remember that they’re giving a gift to you too. It’s important to remember this because it’s a nudge to give and extend gratitude. It’s also a reminder that it’s a two-way street. Being visible also means giving back. 

Here are some easy (but important and memorable) examples: 

  • Showing up prepared for what you’re asked to participate in 
  • Sending thank you cards after an opportunity or meeting
  • Writing a LinkedIn recommendation for collaborative partners, guest workshop teachers, or podcast guests
  • Noticing and appreciating when someone shares their platform and time 
  • Celebrating your wins for yourself! 
  • Writing a review for someone on their podcast if they had you on

It’s not an opportunity to be taken lightly. When someone gives you access to their platform and people, it shows they trust you, and want you to bring your unique value to the table. Be yourself, come with a giver’s mindset, and be ready to offer as much as you hope to receive (and maybe even a little more ;)). 

You’ll Have Some Hits and Misses 

I’m not a believer that all visibility is good visibility. I think there are some opportunities to turn down and say no to. It could be personality, values, target audience, or any other number of reasons, but you likely won’t say yes to everything. 

That said, sometimes you say yes to the wrong thing. You realize you’ve landed a podcast opportunity with someone whose questions guide you down a path that has nothing to do with what you came to share, or you and the co-host of an event clash so badly that you both walk away with a bad taste in your mouth. 

There will be great successes and there will also be some flops. 

Use these as lessons to move forward with more clarity around who you want to connect and collaborate with and why. Evaluate opportunities for what went well and what didn’t so you can use it as information to move forward with. 

And at the end of the day, if you have a feeling in your gut that something’s just not for you for whatever reason, it’s ok to say no and avoid opportunities like that in the future. 

When You Decide to Get Visible, You’re More Visible. 

I know you’re thinking, “No s***, Sherlock. but hang on, hear me out. 

If you truly want to embark on this visibility journey, what’s going to happen is… you’re going to be seen by more people. People watch you make mistakes, pivot, and move messily about the cabin. More people see your typos and the way you say, “um” too often. People will copy you and steal your ideas. More people hear your story and might have their own thoughts and judgments about you. They might not like you. People will tell you what you “should” be doing and provide unsolicited feedback and advice. 

These aren’t reasons to stay hidden, in my opinion. The very invitation and opportunity for personal growth and development are even stronger reasons to take steps to show up. 

Being visible can bring you to see yourself more clearly. The parts you love and the parts you have long rejected. Being visible might shine a light on the things about yourself you wanted to keep hidden and you get to work on them live time, only now it’s with more people watching.

I personally believe visibility is just as much inner work and learning about yourself, as it is a commitment to externally showing up. 

Visibility Means Thinking Outside the Box 

Visibility is so much more than just showing up, doing your thing, and mic-dropping. My visibility/marketing formula revolves around collaboration, connection, consistency, cohesion, content, and creativity. I know, that was a lot of C’s.

These are the six things we focus on in my Marketing Momentum Lab, a small group program that focuses on YOUR visibility.

Launching the Marketing Momentum Lab has been its own lesson in visibility for me. (Launching anything is a fast track to facing your fears, anxieties, expectations, disappointments, and delights head-on!) 

I’ve learned so much so far this year and am really excited to be heading into the last quarter of the year with new perspectives and a commitment to growing my visibility (intentionally), and helping others do the same! 

Resources for Your Visibility Journey: 

  • This Shit Works book by Julie Brown: A visibility and networking must-read!
  • She Built This podcast: Where I constantly share lessons from my own trenches and learn from guests!
  • Want to work on ALL things visibility with a small group of like-minded individuals? Join the next Marketing Momentum Lab group program I run! Six weeks dedicated to YOU showing up!