TakenSeriously

I’ll be honest—I think I’m a somewhat smart and accomplished person. Yet, when I left my full-time gig in order to start my business and freelance full-time I had one big concern: getting people to take me seriously.

It’s not that I didn’t think I was well-spoken. And, I definitely had a certain level of confidence that I’d be able to pull this whole “business owner” thing off—otherwise I certainly wouldn’t have done it. Instead, I worried about people looking at me with the respect and recognition that I thought I would need. That I thought I deserved.

I was 24-years-old when I started my business. And, while I’m sure that sounds positively ancient to a 12-year-old, it’s still pretty young to be a business owner. Let’s face it, most people look at you and think, “You’re essentially fresh out of college. What could you possibly know about running a business?”

Well, not a lot, honestly. But, that didn’t stop me from going for it. And, after a few meetings with some middle-aged business men who treated me like a juvenile bimbo who should go back to her weekend babysitting gigs, I started to work on improving a few things.

I wanted people to take me more seriously. I wanted them to recognize me as a smart, driven, and knowledgable business owner. And, above all else, I wanted to present myself as someone who deserved that respect. Here are a few of the tips I used in order to make that happen.

HOW TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

1. KNOW YOUR OWN WORTH.

It’s unfair to expect anybody else to take you seriously when you don’t. You need to recognize and own your worth. You know what you kick ass at, and there’s nothing wrong with saying it.

We all know that there’s a bit of a fine line between being confident and being arrogant, but it’s a line you’re going to need to walk if you want to be taken seriously. So, stroll into meetings and appointments with your head held high. Your confidence already gives you some credibility.

2. PRACTICE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH.

Are you imagining standing in front of your mirror while using your hairbrush as a makeshift microphone? Alright, so practicing your elevator pitch doesn’t need to be quite like that. But, you should still plan on polishing up your spiel before ever trying to spit it out at somebody.

Responding to the famous, “So, what do you do?” question with a bashful, fumbling, “Oh, gosh, well, uhhhh, that’s a good question!” isn’t a great way to present yourself in a polished, put together light.

So, it’s important that you have a somewhat canned pitch ready to go in your back pocket for those exact moments. I wrote this piece on perfecting your elevator pitch for The Everygirl. If you want to check it out, I think it’s chock-full of some great tips (but, I’m a little biased).

3. BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR BEHAVIOR, NOT JUST YOUR WORDS.

You’ve heard that your body language and nonverbal cues can actually say more than the words that are flying out of your mouth. But, in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget to pay attention to those ever-important behaviors.

It’s crucial to be conscious of your body language and the other cues you’re putting out there. Twirling your hair and fiddling with your skirt just makes you look nervous. There’s nothing worse than a flimsy, wimpy handshake. Oh, and raising your voice at the end of every sentence like you’re constantly asking questions? Well, it’s not a great way to appear self-assured and worthy of respect.

4. COME PREPARED WITH SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

You can tell people how great you are until you’re blue in the face—and then just cross your fingers that they take it all at face value. But, if you want to make an extra impact? You should be prepared to show them how great you are.

When I tell people that I’m a freelance writer, most assume that I’m home in my pajamas all day (OK, sometimes that part is true…) doing my best to live off of my husband’s steady income. That part, my friends, is not so true.

But, as soon as I show them some of my favorite samples or mention that my work has been picked up by the likes of Forbes, Inc, Mashable, and LifeHacker? They start humming a different tune.

5. DON’T BE EASILY INTIMIDATED.

Listen, I know that strolling into a room when you feel like everyone is so much smarter, more experienced, and all around better than you is a completely intimidating situation. Believe me, I’ve been there.

But, no matter what, you need to do your best to avoid being overly intimidated. Sure, those people might be great, but you’re just as great! So, take a minute to breathe deeply, collect yourself, and move forward with confidence!

Do you struggle with getting people to take you seriously? What methods and tactics do you put in place to overcome that?

Until next time!