A Formula for Coming out of Hiding

By Jessica Albon

Business owner brand archetype for visibility

Hiding Lexi by lovecatz

In the habit of hiding, I talked about how necessary it is to surrender to times of hiding out. Sometimes, hiding is a fundamental part of moving on to the next stage; sometimes you need to rest, be fallow, absorb, and go (relatively) unnoticed. For myself, I’m an expert hider. I can go months without visiting Twitter, blogging here, or logging into Facebook. Basically, the only inbox I can’t avoid for quite as long is my email inbox. And, even that, as close friends know… I have been known to neglect.

Sometimes, we just plain don’t feel like participating, and though the social media gurus of the world will probably disagree with me… I think that’s absolutely fine. I think we’re all entitled to be private when we want to be, whether that’s with certain sections of our lives or during certain times. It’s okay to step back and not participate.

But, sometimes we really want to participate. We’re eager for connection. We want to belong and jump in and conversate… But we don’t know what to say. We think we have to be _______ [witty or powerful or friendly or cranky or any one of dozens of other characteristics various social media folks proclaim are the core of connection], and we’re just plain not sure how.

So, what do you do when you’ve fallen into the habit of hiding and you’re ready to break out of your shell and be seen again? I have one secret that’s relatively foolproof for my clients:

Focus on your Brand Siren. (If you don’t know what yours is yet, take the quiz.) Here are some examples to get you started.

  • If you’re an Audrey: Dip your toe back into the conversation by asking for advice. What’s something you’re feeling really challenged by right now. This can be something in your work, or something completely unrelated. Not feeling comfortable with the idea of being that vulnerable today? Share a piece of advice that’s made a big difference for you over the last month or two–what’s really resonated with you lately?
  • If you’re a Katharine: Share the funniest thing that’s happened to you this week. What awful thing did your mother-in-law say? What hilarious trouble did your kid get into? What truly, truly ridiculous story did the local news cover? Not feeling very witty today? Instead of being funny, tell a story in your crankiest voice–you have a special knack for complaining in a way that’s both entertaining *and* insightful.
  • If you’re an Edith: Focus on transformation around you. Perhaps your child or grandchild has just learned to walk, or maybe the gorgeous tree in your backyard is covered in firey red leaves–there’s always magical transformation happening in your world, and recognizing and communicating it are comfortably inside your wheelhouse. If you’re just not feeling transformational right now, instead, focus on something of stability and steadfastness. What hasn’t changed? (By the way, Ediths, remember, you often communicate best when you play with video, audio, and visuals so feel free to break out the magic markers and glitter and share your creation on your blog or in a Tweet instead of believing you have to put it into words.)
  • If you’re a Liz: Bring in the sensual. Often, when you’re feeling depleted, silent, or moody, it’s because you’re depriving yourself. So, indulge and share that indulgence. Challenge your people to follow your example and treat themselves and those around them better. Feeling anti-sensual at the moment? Focus on deprivation instead–Scale back, pare down, take away, and go all-out-minimalist. Find a single quote that perfectly captures your mood. A single photo. An object. And let that be your message for today.
  • If you’re a Judy: You’re the least likely to suffer from official writer’s block. You’re far more likely to suffer from so many ideas you’re not sure which to share first. So, try this: make your own priority chart. Which types of messages do you most enjoy sharing? Which bring you the most positive feedback? Write these topics down to help you winnow any time you’re feeling overwhelmed. And, should you actually encounter writer’s block, answer this one question: What unexpectedly caught your attention this week? (This might be anything from a YouTube video to a blog post to a new hobby to a quote to…. )

Everything you say doesn’t have to fit into your style’s formula (obviously), but these prompts can give you an easy shortcut to coming out of hiding when you’re feeling stuck. By using a formula, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to say something when you’re ready to be visible again, plus by keeping it in line with your Brand Siren, you’ll be reinforcing your brand (instead of struggling for words).