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A few years ago, someone asked me this question:

“What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started as a professional?”

… and my answer hasn’t changed.

Show Up … and Listen.

Your input isn’t going to matter if your only platform is your social media persona. Participation means showing up. That’s where people really start to listen, because you took the time to show up makes it more tangible. The opportunity to look into someone’s eyes makes it possible to know who they are. And it gives them a chance to know who you are.

Are you authentic, abrasive, kind, thoughtful, polite, well-mannered, rude?

It’s easy to paint a perfect picture of yourself when you choose your words, and your profile picture to paint the best version of yourself.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story, and it’s not 100% true. Even if you try to show who you really are in your social feed. Who you are depends on who you are when you show up and who you are online. It’s not one or the other. It’s both.

20 years ago, “showing up” was the only way to connect — and it made it harder to make a name for yourself, because most people were busy doing their thing, and it was impossible to know anyone, unless they did show up.

Today, showing up means being engaged in the community in a meaningful, purposeful way. It means supporting others and allowing others to share their concerns, passions and ideas.

You can make a name for yourself simply by participating in the conversation online, but your relevance won’t be confirmed until you take it one more step. Not just once, or twice. Not just because it’s a thing you need to check off the list. But by leaning in and staying connected, between the “IRL” (In real Life) meetings by listening to what people care about.

Success requires that you understand the relationships, to share your own passion, and allow people to hear your thoughts in person. The nuances we can hide behind online are out in the open, and real trust and communication can begin to take place — when you let people know who you really are.

Because, who you really are is what people want to know, and what allows business to take place, and trust and respect to exist.

Also published on Medium.

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