“Why not me?” is the question I have asked myself more than any other. Even if it’s something as small as entering a raffle for a free lunch if you drop your business card into a fishbowl, I always say to myself, they have to pick someone, why not me?
I think above all else, that’s the reason why I’ve had such an exciting and successful career. More than having the right degree, or making the right connections, three simple words are the reason why you are reading this right now. Why. Not. Me?
They say men will apply for a job if they feel like they can do 60 percent of the work listed on the job description but women need to feel like they can do 100 percent of the work before they put themselves out there. This is no way to get ahead in the world. I have had four “real” jobs during my professional career and I wasn’t 100 percent ready for any of them. Why take a job if you’re not going to learn? To stretch? To grow?
Sure, there might be someone more qualified than I was also in the running, but I’ve always been qualified enough, I’m a fast learner and I work hard. They have to hire someone, why not me?
This mantra pretty much explains how my book INFLUENCER was born. I was thinking someone ought to write a book that explains how this whole influencer marketing thing works because people are out here acting like they have no idea what’s going on. Someone ought to write a book, why not me?
After “why not me?” there are three other sub-mantras, if you will, that have changed my life.
Say yes and figure out the details later
The first is “say yes and figure out the details later.” In 2011, I was offered the chance of a lifetime to serve as a North American ambassador for Nivea’s 100th anniversary. They were going to send me to Germany for three days to hang out on a cruise ship with Rihanna. They were going to pay me and all I need to do was tweet about it. One small problem: I was offered this gig on Monday, I was leaving on Wednesday, and I did not have a passport.
But when they asked me if I could go did I say no? Of course not. I said I will be there. I immediately started freaking out because I had never had a passport and didn’t even know if you could get one in 48 hours, but it turns out you could. Not only did I have the best time, but I also met a friend on that trip who was there on behalf of her PR firm. She later started working at Hearst and recommended me to my future boss. That job led to the writing of this book. Imagine where I’d be if I had said no?
Ask for forgiveness not permission
The second is “ask for forgiveness not permission.” When I first started my blog, I knew I was going to need to make actual money from it if it was ever going to be a full-time thing. I didn’t really have any options so I decided I was going to fake it until I made it. I had seen banner ads for The Real Housewives of New Yorkon another blog I followed and I saved them and put them on my own site.
Forget that banner ads have tracking codes and I was probably ruining someone’s calculations. I was giving the show free press. What’s the worst that could happen? They realize they’re not paying me for those ads and ask me to take them down?
That didn’t happen, but you know what did? An ad campaign with Svedka for thousands of dollars. They hadn’t seen any advertising on my site before the Housewivesads, so they weren’t sure if I was accepting placements. This buy came right as I was deciding if I was going to stay in law school or try my hand at this whole digital content thing. I dropped out a few months later.
Give freely and don’t hestitate
The third is to “give freely and don’t hesitate.” Not many people know this, but my husband and I got engaged on our first date. Now, we knew of each other beforehand, we were in the same section in law school, but we weren’t friends. One night after work, I decided to take the long way to the train—it was a perfect summer night for a walk—when I ran into him on the sidewalk.
What could have been a quick and awkward small talk moment turned into a six-hour conversation where we talked about everything from our relationships with our parents and how many kids we wanted to have to our greatest ambitions and why were still single.
I went home later that night thinking I had blown my chance with him because women are supposed to be mysterious and there was definitely no mystery left. But later that week, when my friend cancelled on me and I needed a +1 to an event I was covering, I asked him to come along. Before the date was over he looked me right in the eyes and said, “I know what I want and I’m not one to beat around the bush. I think we should get married.”
And I said “OK!” We did wait two years before walking down the aisle, but that was six years ago. If I had been more reserved when I bumped into him or hesitated when he laid it all out on the line for me, I’d probably have ended up like Ryan Gosling’s character in La La Land.
If you meet someone who is in a position to help you achieve a goal, don’t hold back. If you run into a writer who covers your vertical, tell her you would be forever grateful if she included you in her next influencer roundup. If you’re at a conference with your favorite influencer, tell her you’d love to collaborate with her.
If you meet the influencer director for your favorite brand, tell them you want to become their brand ambassador and ask how you can make that happen. Make each and every conversation count and never walk away wishing you would have said more or done more. It won’t always work out, but the only way to get what you want is to go for it.
Excerpted with permission from INFLUENCER: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy. © 2018 by Brittany Hennessy. Citadel Press Books, published by Kensington Publishing Corp.