"Me, on a billboard? Never in a million years!"
That's what I thought when I found out a promotional campaign I agreed to be part of would be more than just a testimonial on a website. I had recently sent a letter of thanks to the local Chamber of Commerce because I won some business after attending a Chamber event. When they called to recruit me for the promotion, I said, "Sure, of course, no bother," thinking they'd ask me to write up some notes. Then I found out my face would be on a billboard.
Even though I work in public relations, I was always reluctant to put myself forward in photographs or other public displays. I thought they were opportunities that could go to clients instead. Silly, I know; I think I was hiding behind my clients!
The Chamber assured me that eight other people would be on the billboard with me, but when I showed up for my photo shoot, I was all on my own. We were each being given our own billboard.
Roll on a month or so and the billboards went on display. We got great feedback from clients and business colleagues, although I couldn't look at my picture. I was mortified at my face being as big as a bus, literally.
I met my contact in the Chamber of Commerce to give feedback on the experience. I thought the campaign was great for my business, but it was a negative for the Chamber because I was the only woman out of nine members who were featured. What she said next shocked me: "Deirdre, we asked loads of business women—you were the only one to say yes!"
Okay, I was a fairly reluctant participant, but it was a brilliant opportunity for our small business to feature in a billboard campaign in our city. I couldn't say no, even though I wanted to, but it sure didn't feel nice getting out of my comfort zone.
But what about all the successful, confident, intelligent businesswomen in my city who did say no?
We need to get over ourselves as women in business. We need to take more chances and seize every opportunity that comes our way, because if we don't, someone else will.
We need to surround ourselves with positive people—men and women who will challenge and push us every day of our lives. We need to face the fear that stops us from achieving everything we are capable of and acknowledge that the biggest deterrent to reaching our full potential is often ourselves.