What to do when people start asking for your help

and how to get there in the first place

Lately several people have asked me for help with their websites, blogging and social media. Now, I didn’t study any of these and I have none but my personal, non-commercial experience with them. I also don’t own a business or spread business cards saying that I do websites and social media. Yet, people want my help, my advice, my service.

That happens because of two things:

One: I systematically expose myself.

Not a very fun thing to do as a recently come-out introvert. It drains my energy and time for a very tiny outcome. Yet it is the people I met and whom I am following up with who are approaching and in some cases even paying me.

Two: I know what I stand for.

Another insight I gained very recently. Not that I have figured it all out, you know, the whole “My Life Purpose”, “My Calling” stuff. But I am confident enough, in fact, I can’t do otherwise but to introduce myself as a writer and freelancer.

In that way, the people I meet get me because I am talking sense straight from my heart. That makes connection much easier than for example with a person who doesn’t stand behind the business they are talking about.

Getting to that point where people start asking you for help is hard and uncomfortable, but doable and rewarding work.

Because now I get to hear things like: Oh, you blog, could you show me how to do it? Or: I need a new website, do you have any ideas? Or even: That last blog post of yours was really inspiring. (I’m not making these up, by the way. Those are things people recently said to me and it feels amazingly good!)

And I am left with only one option: Show up.

That is why I revived the blog. That is why I sleep the latest and wake up the earliest I can. That is why I force myself to produce more helpful content for my readers, why I struggle with HTML, why I almost always faint when the rains cause yet another blackout that leaves me unable to work on my laptop for several hours. That is why I, an old-fashioned soul and mobile phone dyslexic, I got a smartphone to do email and social media and reading in the Nairobi traffic jam.

If you have ever been asked for help by someone or gotten even a tiny piece of praise, then you know how good it feels, how it causes goose-bumps and makes your face flush red, how you want to hug the person who just said it, how you want to frame that sentence, however small it was, and hang it on your personal wall of fame.

To get there, do this: expose yourself.

When you got there and people are reacting, don’t stop.

Do this: Show up.

Keep the good work going.

What was the best thing somebody told you about your work? And how did you invest that statement into more work? Let me know in the comments.

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Networking for Introverts

How introverts can succeed in crowded events

I recently realised that I am an introvert. That means I have no problem speaking to people or approaching them. I even used to be in a drama group in school. And I always sang in choirs and solo on several stages and in front of the president. I also like hanging out with many people in a busy place.

But all that is draining energy from me, and that’s what makes me an introvert. Not that I am shy or not sure of myself. I just have to be on my own for a good while after a lot of exposure, in order to recharge my batteries. For extroverts it’s simply the other way round. They get energy from people and it drains them to be alone.

So what does an introvert do at a networking event?

I have started my entrepreneurial, or rather nontrepreneurial venture and challenged myself to take every opportunity to get away from the laptop screen and mingle with real people. That’s why I joined a networking happy hour. And it was horrible at first. Loud music, noisy chitchat, superficial small talk and no topics I was really interested in.

I tried to look for possible speakers for another entrepreneur event I am organising, but instead I just got business cards.

And then suddenly it changed.

From one second to the other, I started to really connect with a certain couple. I gave them advice. And they gave me a piece of their handmade soap. It was all due to a change of attitude.

So if you are an introvert and you want to network successfully, here are some hints:

  1. Have a goal

In my case it was finding a possible speaker for another event I am organising. I am a jane of many trades, so already introducing myself to all the different people over and over again exhausted me. Presenting myself as the organiser of another event and saying that I was looking for speakers opened the possibilities and always provided a topic to talk about.

  1. Be open

As much as I was looking for that speaker, the real magic happened when I let go of that goal and just tried to get to know the people. Some were simply not my type, others had interesting stories to tell and with one or two I definitely clicked. Being open and locking that little judge inside my head out for a while definitely helped.

  1. Be yourself

That’s the great thing about networking compared to job interviews. At a job interview you will bend your own self to the extent that it’s not you anymore, in order to fit the company’s wishes and be employed. At a networking meeting, you can just say who you truly are and get new opportunities and people who are interested in you because you are your real true self.

  1. Be helpful

When I shared the little knowledge about online marketing and social media strategies I have, I connected to a very interesting couple. They are currently struggling with their website and Facebook page and I was able to give my opinion. Another woman heard that I am a writer and asked if I could mentor her in writing. When I gave out the little knowledge I had, that’s when I really connected to people.

I still went home overwhelmed and tired, but it was good and healthy to strain me a bit and see how I as a nontrepreneur can expose myself and learn from such an event.

How do you deal with networking? Share your strategies and experiences in the comment below.

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I found my purpose – now what?

or: Why my purpose does not determine my life

There are many ways to find your calling, your purpose, the reason why you are on this earth. It’s a big piece of work, it basically means to think only about yourself, and it’s a never ending process.

I started this process with Ann Rea’s strategy last December, and it is only now that things start making a bit more sense and forming into something tangible.

Now I am standing on this earth with a couple of sentences that state which purpose I have, which calling, which reason to be here.

I know, you want to hear it, right? It goes like this: My purpose is to share my story of uniqueness and inspire others with it.

And now what?

I got carry my purpose around with me, written in a tiny booklet. Does that mean it is forever fixated in stone and dare me if I stop inspiring others… will I drop dead?

I realised that my purpose is not something that determines me, but something that I determined.

  • It’s like a street sign, it gives direction.
  • It is like an alarm, it reminds me what I stand for.
  • It is like a piece of chocolate, it makes me feel good.
  • It is like a mirror, it shows me what I am capable of.

And I have a practical example:

In my current quest to keep on exposing myself and build a network, I initiated Entrepreneur Cafe Nairobi. We meet twice a month and learn from and advice each other. One of the last meetings was hosted by a real estate and franchising company who invited us to learn about their unique business model.

The same day my sister, who visited me for the last six months was flying back home. It was a very hard decision, whether to take responsibility and be present at the meeting or take my sister to the airport.

But there was my purpose, a little written sentence in a small booklet in my pocket. How inspiring and unique will I be able to behave at a franchising company versus at the airport with my sister? There and then the decision was made: My sister comes first.

That is what I am using the knowledge about my purpose for. To help me make decisions that I now know I will benefit from more.

Did you find your purpose yet? If yes, what do you do about it now? If no, how do you make decisions? Let me know in the comments below.

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