Colleen is an award-winning peak performance consultant with over 20 years of experience, has launched over 340 businesses, is an international speaker, author of a number one international bestseller, Anatomy of Accomplishment and Step Into The Spotlight To Expand Your Influence. The CEO of three businesses, including Lead Up For Women, a community that boasts 10s of 1000s of female entrepreneurs that are driven by their passions, support and promote others with the purpose to fuel female voices.
Why is joining a community essential for growth in a business?
Let's just think about anyone who's ever launched a business or anything we've ever done in our lives out there. When we worship, we go in a community to a church, right? When we learn, we are in a classroom, or we're in a group of children. When we are learning a sport, we drop our children off at sports teams that have a coach. If you think about everything we do in our life, it's all about the team, it's all about the community. Football teams would be nothing if they didn't have the community of the supporters that they have that are their fans. So when we think about that, it shares a different light on what community is. When we move into a neighborhood, we move into a neighborhood to be part of the community. We were born to crave others and community. With that being said, when you're launching a business, it's one of the hardest times of your life. It really is like when you're having a family or getting married or doing something new that you've never done before. Imagine doing that on your own. I think about traveling and hiking Mount Everest, something I've always wanted to do and I know that if I had a guide if I had a community of people that were supporting me and given me advice, I would be able to do it step after step, day after day to put those pieces together with that map. So many people tried to do this feat of building a business on their own, and why not tap into the likes of others who've already done it before you? Why not learn from them? Why try and reinvent the wheel all by ourselves and not utilize the fuel of a community that can open up so many doors for you and create additional exposure for you?
What are the biggest hurdles that women face as entrepreneurs?
It's different than what men face. It has to do with our makeup of centuries and centuries and decades and decades of how we were raised. I was even raised in my younger years to get married, have babies, not to start a business. That's not how my mom raised me. So if we go back decades and centuries, the females have always been mothers and nurturers, right? That's why we have the ability to have babies and the men are the providers. So with that being said, they have this view of building businesses as providing for their families and that's why they're doing it. The only reason why they're doing it most of the time is to provide for other people, whether it be their employees or their family. Women are nurturers, so because we tend to nurture, we nurture our clients, we nurture those people around us, we nurture our contacts when we're networking, we are actually some of the best business builders out there, but we lack self-esteem and the self-confidence for what the worth piece is. The worth piece is about selling your products, knowing that someone else out there needs them, that you're solving a problem. I've seen this across the board that so many women struggle with their worth of bringing in a million dollars as an entrepreneur because it scares them. They don't feel like they have that ability to be this powerful businesswoman, and a mother and a wife and a sister and an aunt, etc. So we struggle with identities and I say we because I've been through this already, I struggled as my children got older and moved out of the home because I identified as a mother and I put Colleen on a shelf somewhere where she got really dusty. Then when I brought her and dusted her off, it was like What do you like? What colors do you like? Where do you like to shop for clothes? What type of food do you like to eat? When you're raising children you adapt to what it is that your children are doing and it's almost like we become the mother but forget that we're an individual as a female. Keeping that identity is so important because by permitting ourselves to be who we are, we permit our children to be who they are meant to be, we give others around us that we're modeling to that permission to be who they want to be and it's just a beautiful gift.
Why is exposure important for female entrepreneurs?
One thing I've taught all the CEOs that I've worked with was to tell everybody about you and that's why I love that you're so connected in the networking side of things and promote networking so heavily. You mentioned at the beginning about reciprocity and I really believe in the reciprocity rule of giving first to someone else and opening up a door connecting them to someone. Through networking, we can do that, we can connect with other people, we can get ourselves out there and meet people. I look at the world that I'm in now as being an entrepreneur for the last several years compared to what I was when I was in corporate America, and I'm not even surrounded by the same people. We talked about this earlier, but your network is your net worth, right? You want to be asking people that started a business before you or have already created a community. I can't tell you how many women I interviewed, that created female communities and just dug in to say, Tell me how you did it. I remember before I published my first book, I met someone that had 11 and I simply asked how they did it. When I met my first Millionaire, I sat him down and said, "Okay, teach me how to become a millionaire." I want to learn from others that have done it before me and unless you get out there unless you ask, you don't get. Unless you tell everyone about you, they don't know who you are. I love it when I hear people say to me, "Oh my gosh, I see you everywhere, how do you ever have time to do what you do?" I love it when they say that because it's not necessarily that I'm showing up everywhere, but the point is, we're, we're showing up on all these outlets that people are utilizing for information all the time. When people consistently see you, they're like, "What the heck, what is this person about? I want to learn more." Then when you're not at an event that maybe you go to regularly, and then before you know it, you're getting phone calls or emails, and someone will say, "Wow, everyone was talking about you at the event," and I realize that now I'm becoming a brand and becoming someone that people are sharing my community and what I'm doing because they know the benefit of that and they think other people should be involved. That doesn't happen when you sit behind your computer and become a keyboard warrior. It doesn't happen when you put your head down and just stay quote, unquote, busy. It happens when you're out there and you're talking one too many.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
I teach this in some of the groups that I work with because I know how important networking is. So I think tip number one is just be yourself. So many women asked me how do I stand out from all the other women that are there in the networking room or the Zoom Room? How do I stand out? It's not like you have to wear bright red glasses or have your hair bright pink or wear a certain shirt to stand out or bright bold earrings. You don't have to have that, you just need to show up as you. When you are you and you show up authentically as yourself you're relaxed, you're confident, you're self-assured and that comes through, that energy comes through the camera. It comes through the way that you're walking into a room and people will notice you because your shoulders are back, your chin is up because you're self-assured you feel confident about who you are. You're not apologizing, you're not worrying about what anyone else thinks because it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. So when you walk into a room or show up in a Zoom Room, tip number one, just be yourself. Second tip if you are on zoom and this is just a side tip, please make sure your background is not your unmade bed. That's like the worst thing I would have to say, be in a professional setting. So have a white background, or maybe it has a logo, you can print off your logo or have something in the background that could be some books. People notice what is in the background when you're on zoom. The other thing is, I'm the first person to speak up when I walk into a room, or if I'm in a Zoom Room. So I'll walk up to someone and say, "Hi, my name is Colleen, what's your name?" So I reach out and put my hand out for a firm handshake. If we can't do that in person, and we're doing that on zoom, right when they move us into breakout rooms, I'm the first person to unmute myself, turn my video on and I start welcoming everyone in the room and I just start asking questions. Then right away, because I'm talking people think she's the leader of the room. I'll say, "Well, it looks like they said we had 20 minutes, does anyone want to keep time? I think we could just go around the room and everyone introduce themselves. It looks like we've got times however many people in this room three minutes each." Someone will volunteer to take the time and I'll say, "We'll just start with Lori, and after you're done in your three minutes or up why don't you volunteer the next person? What that does is it starts connecting the room. Lori gets to go first and after her three minutes are up, she looks around, and then someone she's drawn to she will volunteer to go. Then all of a sudden everyone's laughing which cohesively brings the group together. I always go last because I don't want anyone to feel like they're picked last on the softball field. You don't have to be the one last I always bring up the caboose and then I tie it all together about something that each person said and an impression that they made. Then the last tip I would give you that is to follow up and follow through. This is where I see that most individuals, including males and females, really falter in the follow-up and the follow-through. I can't tell you, Lori, how many networking events I've been to and no one follows up with me. I follow up with everybody and that is just horribly wrong. But when I do follow up with them, and I say that it was great meeting them and I'll say one thing I remember about them when I met them, whether they said something funny, or their cat jumped up on their computer, or they had awesome earrings on whatever it was. Then I say that I'd love to chat with them and get to know them better when we're not crunched for time. About 99% of those people I follow up with book a call with me because they want you to remember them and I remembered them I said something about them. I never approach it in a salesy way and approach it from the perspective of just connecting and seeing if there's something I can help them with or if there's a door I can help open for them. I think the other piece is when you are offering something for someone in person or a zoom breakout room, don't make it confusing for them. Just drop a link in there for them to book a call with you or a download. Find what is it that you could offer them that would be the best thing at the moment for them to connect with you and then for you to continue nurturing them. Don't drop every Facebook link, you have every Instagram link you have on your YouTube. It would be like walking into a room and throwing your business cards across the room and say call me and then walk out, we don't do that. So connect with people, care about people, show them that you care, and they'll show you that they care.
How do you stay in front and best nurture your network?
I do that in several different ways. I do the podcast every week and interview members so that my community, including my community on the podcast, is getting tips like your community of interviewing people on different subjects. I do a bi-monthly magazine that our members write articles in and we digitally send that out to all of our members so that they can read the different articles and really take away so many tools in the business and leadership and lifestyle sections of the magazine, we even have a philanthropy section of our magazine. I invite my community to other communities. I have a very abundant mindset and by inviting them to other communities and showing them that it's important for them to expand their influence to attract the right clients beyond lead up for women. Because if I'm talking about how showing up everywhere, and networking everywhere and so important, it would be wrong of me to lock them down in my community. We do weekly teaching Tuesdays and each week a different member comes forward and teaches about different subjects in our lives. Today we talked about sleep, it could be more about your business and business insurance. Sometimes we're talking about tips on leadership. So a different member comes forward every Tuesday, teaches a free workshop and I attend those, I host those along with our members. I do member Monday spotlights every Monday where I interview a different member in our community, for them to offer to our community, a way for us to add additional tools to our toolbox. I'm always out there on Facebook Lives, I'm out there teaching whenever I can, I love to do one-minute teaches in the morning where it's like the word of the day, and put it out there and just have fun with it. There are so many little things that we can do, of the years that we've been in business and the skills that we've learned and honed in over the years that we can share with other people. Most of us just tend not to do it. I don't know if it's because we're lazy, or we just don't feel comfortable on camera. But another tip for your listeners is people don't want the perfect you. They just want you and I've gotten on camera and cried before. I've gotten on camera and laughed before, I've gotten on camera and forgotten what to say before. If you would just get out there and get out in front of your communities so they could get to know who you are. It's just amazing to me how many people really want a peek into your world and what you're doing. That's the likable factor and that's how we get people to like us and know us. We can't stay hidden. You just can't stay hidden.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would have said quit corporate America today for one. But I needed to be in corporate America to learn a lot of the skills that I gained. The other piece is patience. I was so caught up in what was happening around me that I fell out of control a lot. We are all in control of our realities. We're in control of our mindset, we're in control of the choices that we make every day. Whether we work for somebody or not, we're still in control of our choices. So 20 years ago, I had a lack of patience, I felt like everything that happened around me was happening to me, and I just had to navigate through what was happening. The truth of the matter is, that's not what reality is. The reality is you can choose how you feel, you can choose how you react to a situation. We have choices, we have freedom of time and we also need to be patient. We're on God's time, that's just what it comes down to and we try to force things that it's just not the timing for. So that's probably what I would say to myself 20 years ago.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'm glad you said growing because the one thing that I would like to leave with your listeners would be this: If learning is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you and you should always be out there for growth for yourself, growth for your company growth for your employees and growth for the people that you serve. How can you be learning and growing to be helping and impacting the world in a positive way?
Connect with Colleen
Join The Lead Up For Women Community: https://www.leadupforwomen.com/
Sign up for a Lunch-N-Learn Networking Event and use the code guestlnl to register 3 months in advance! https://www.leadupforwomen.com/lunch-n-learn