Last night I went on a first date.
I curled my hair, applied my favorite shade of red lipstick, put on a pair of heels and was out the door.
The dating scene in San Francisco has its fair share of quandaries, (that’s another blog post for another time) but all things considered, this was shaping out to be pretty fabulous. The restaurant was perfect, the atmosphere just right, and there was an energy in the room that had us both feeling zestful and forthcoming.
The conversation was flowing.
As the first glasses of wine appeared on our table we transitioned from small talk into career talk–part of the night I always enjoy.
Just as we were starting to get comfortable with each other, he asks me this question:
He says, “How do you convince people you have what it takes? I mean with being so early in your career, how do you do it?”
I paused. Good question, I thought. How do I convince people I am credible?
I also stopped to consider that I am not the only one who has wondered these questions. Everyone starts somewhere. With zero followers. Zero clients. Zero experience. There are no exceptions to this rule — which makes the following advice even more relevant.
How does a young entrepreneur, at the start of their career, appropriately address any lack of experience and still, well, kick ass?
Passion breeds persistence
No backing down. Use your passion as fuel for persistence.
I am so committed to my profession as a personal brand strategist that some might say it’s borderline obsession. I eat, sleep, breathe personal branding.
I never stopped to consider there was any other way. I assessed my strengths and weaknesses and concluded that in order to be an expert in this field I had to make up for my lack of experience with a commitment to understanding every facet of this industry.
To the level you aren’t fully committed to your craft is also the level you will not convince your prospects that your work can help them be successful.
Make Bold Moves
Make bold moves, often and willingly. Say YES, even when you’re scared, even when you may be underqualified, even when it makes you feel extremely uncomfortable.
You should never stop to consider that someone else may be better for the job. Do not question whether you are “too young” to work with this client or that client.
Embrace every opportunity and take your missteps and mistakes as an equal part of the process.
Inspire Fresh Perspective
You can use your inexperience to your advantage by providing new concepts and a fresh perspective when you dare to ask for a seat at the table.
While there is no substitute for experience, I do believe that new professionals can provide a new solution for an old problem or a creative answer to a current process that isn’t working.
I am hungry to innovate and take risks, more apt to try new things without fear of failure.
Because inexperience may also mean you’ve got less to lose, and everything to gain.
Lead with Humility
I used to get embarrassed when I wouldn’t get something right, (sometimes I still do) because it can be tough to swallow, especially when you are just starting out.
But here’s the truth, screwing up is how you chalk up, “experience”.
When you have the courage to lead with humility, grace, and transparency, there is nothing to hide. Screwing up with humility creates an open space for connection. It makes you relatable and it gives others an opportunity to show empathy in return.
Leverage your Personal Brand
Any budding entrepreneurs should seriously consider the opportunity to leverage their personal brand to support the growth of their business. It’s never been easier to write your own story — to define how you want others to perceive you.
In a digital era, you have a chance to inspire trust and believability through your own personal experiences and professional expertise.
Personal branding is YOUR unfair advantage. It will set you apart and allow others the opportunity to connect with you and your business in a unique way.
When I got home from my date I googled the word credibility. Do you know what it means?
It’s the quality of being trusted and believed in.
Credibility isn’t necessarily how long you’ve been in business for, it’s not how many followers you have, or how many clients you have landed, though these are important factors, it’s actually a measure of trust and believability.
And there are many alternative ways to inspire these feelings in your audience, clients, and prospects when you don’t have years of experience under your belt.
And most importantly, leveraging your personal brand.
Because remember, everyone starts at zero.