In early 2018 when She can. She did. was about 5 months old, I found myself at a networking event where I was introduced to a group of women that I didn’t recognise. Within seconds, the conversation turned to “how many followers do you have on Instagram?” – the modern day version of “which university did you go to?” – and when they saw that I had a mere 2000 compared to their 20,000, 40,000, 50,000+, I not-so-subtly became invisible in conversation. About a year later when the She can. She did. podcast entered the Business charts at no.8 (climbing to no.5 shortly after) one of those women got back in touch saying how much she loved the brand and would I be interested in profiling her story on She can. She did.?
Suffice to say, I politely declined.
Whilst I wish I could say that this was an isolated event, I’ve been reminded on a pretty much daily basis over the past four years that Instagram (and dialogue around what it means to be a ‘business owner’ operating online in general) reserves space for a very one dimensional, numbers-orientated version of ‘success’.
And my concern is that if our collective sense of worth boils down to numbers and our primary objective is centred around boosting those numbers, we’re less likely to ask ‘How can I help others?’ in business… and more inclined to ask, ‘how can others help me?’
A trend that – if continued – could very well be our hamartia.
Business, amongst other things, is about building relationships. Looking out for one another, earning trust and helping others as we grow. And when life gets messy – say, a pandemic comes along (!) – those relationships truly come into their own.
To that end, I’ll try and keep this one brief…
Every time you tell someone to share your content instead of asking them politely, spend time with someone simply so that you can get tagged in a photo and climb the social ladder, slide into DMs demanding answers to questions without so much as a ‘Hi, how are you?’, unveil personal information about other people in your life without their permission for the sake of ‘content’, treat someone differently – good or bad – because they have more or less followers than you, or use the guise of ‘elevating women in business’ to elevate only yourself… remember the age old saying that people might not remember what you say but they will always, always, remember how you made them feel.
The fact that I receive a whole lot more messages telling me ‘I’m smashing it’ when I interview a social media influencer over a ‘traditional business’ owner – no matter how inspiring either story is – tells me that there’s still a whole lot more work to be done collectively before well-shared quotes like, ‘the number of followers you have doesn’t matter’ really sink in.
Let’s make 2021 the year we start doing that work and – for the sake of our long-term success – reassess how we gage our worth and others’ going forward.
Part 3 to follow…