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Please Don’t Pigeon Hole Me

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Please Don’t Pigeon Hole Me

“I need someone to help with writing a grant.” This was a callout on a Facebook group I am a member of.

“Oooh,” I thought. “I can do that.”

After all, I had worked in sports development and in the not for profit space, writing and winning over $400k in grants in my time.

I answered the callout, letting the person know I was available to help them.

Sounds reasonably straight forward, right?

Not when other people think they know everything about you, based on what you are doing RIGHT now.

One person piped up, “I thought you just did PR?”

Or the time I answered a Facebook callout for a copywriter.

Again, someone pointed out I was a PR person not a copywriter.

Wrong! I have over five years in corporate communications, working for organisations you work for that requires you to become a jack of all trades.

Let’s not forget the decades of experience I have writing for newspapers and magazines about topics from forklifts to property.

Or the hospitality work I did while at Uni or the admin work I did for my mum when I was 13 or the call centre work I did when my kids were babies … You get the picture.

While I tried not to let this annoy me, it got under my skin. Big time.

Why?

Because I am a whole lot more than what I do right now. I’ve got skills far beyond my current title as PR person.

Yes, I do PR but I have over 30 plus years in the workforce and in this time, I have developed, honed and crafted a heap of skills most people do not know about. Unless they sat and chatted with me about where I have been and what I have done. In my experience, this does not happen very often, because most people really either meet with me for my specific service at this time, to ‘pick my brain’ (that’s a whole other article) or to talk about themselves – not necessarily in that order.

That’s the problem with specialising. You get pigeon holed.  Like actors who stick with the one show for too long; you get typecast in certain roles even though you know you have a whole lot more to offer.

Let’s face it.  Your website can only carry so much info before your audience is confused and overwhelmed by your impressive array of skills and expertise.  You are not a department store of services; you are only one person who can do so much.

On the positive side, when you get pigeon holed it means you have done an awesome job creating your brand.  People know you for the services you offer. You have hit the sweet spot with your marketing and profile raising –  the ultimate goal of a business in the market of making money and providing excellent services in your space.

But on the other hand, it makes it hard to move out of that hole. What if you want to expand your service offerings?

Then there are the other holes we find we get stuck in – as a mum, a dad, a man, a woman, personality type, star sign, the side of town you live on, the music you listen to, the tattoos on your body, your dress sense …

Each pigeon hole is someone else’s generalisation about you.

Why do we feel the need to pigeon hole people? Does it make us feel safer? More assured that the person delivering the products or services are THE expert? The answer is simple; as human beings we need to understand the world, to put things in categories to maintain order.

As entrepreneurs and Small Business owners, our skills are diverse and deep. We are multi-faceted people. All of us.  At this moment, you and I happen to be focusing on this one thing.  Never judge or slot someone into a hole just on their ‘now’ role.

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