Honesty: Be honest with your community in the areas that you want to share. Share openly and be unafraid for the rough moments that they can connect to. This makes a human feel!

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Helen Peterson.

Helen Peterson is a work-from-home mom in Bend, Oregon who has established herself in the online business industry as a Virtual Assistant & Launch Strategy Specialist. Along with helping her clients with launch strategy & successfully creating & selling their online courses, she also coaches other women in starting their own Virtual Assistant business (regardless of their current career path).

Her passion stems from guiding women into living the life they’ve always dreamt of with no financial boundaries & the flexibility to live & travel the way they want to.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

I started out as a virtual assistant when I was a mom to my newborn girl. I knew I did not want to go back to an office job, so I began to learn more about starting my own business. This is where my time as a virtual assistant began. I started to serve multiple clients and even now I have branched into launch strategy as well. I then realized that so many business owners wanted support in starting their launches, more than I could serve, so I placed my knowledge into my course and I began helping others in this way as well!

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?

I have learned that the more I just show up personally and in truth of what is going on, the more I end up connecting with my community. I have shown up in miscarriage, in setbacks, in low points as well as high and this causes such a connection with my audience vs just a manicured feed full of incredible moments!

We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?

I teach women how to take care of themselves while being a mom and business owner. They know I stand for movement, boundaries, and even just whether you need space from social media to just take this and listen. I use my account to showcase that listening to our gut and intuition is important and this is what allows us to be in alignment with ourselves.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

I would say to continue to show up as you! Yes, you need to sell things, but also focus on inviting people to hear other sides of you. But alongside of saying that, also feel free to choose what you let your audience into. You are allowed to keep certain things private!

Decide what parts you want to showcase and what you want your mission to be!

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

I see success as when I am hitting my own personal goals. My goals are a mix of some financial, some personal, and some family. Ultimately, if I am hitting more of my personal goals of showing up with my family, being home with my kids, then I am succeeding. You need to think through what that success means to you and finding those anchors that aren’t just financial or status.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

Setting boundaries with myself is important. I set boundaries with work and with what I share online. I also allow times for myself to “turn off” and be present with those who truly matter! I recently took almost 2 months off of Instagram and it was SO good for my mental health!

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

I love starting my mornings without any work and having movement, a slow morning, meditation, and journaling. This time that is slow helps me to feel grounded and like I have choice in this world in how that goes for me.

Another great tip is to listen to inspiring podcasts that bring you outside of your own life for a second. This helps you feel less alone and have a bigger vision of the online community.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Honesty: Be honest with your community in the areas that you want to share. Share openly and be unafraid for the rough moments that they can connect to. This makes a human feel!
  2. Consistency: If you show up consistently, then people expect you to be there and look for you and feel close to you like a friend. Community feels like a real friend this way where they feel like they know you!
  3. Space for them: Give space for them to respond to you and try to answer. Be a real human in your DMs and have real answers. You don’t need to give all of your time, but try to show them you see them.
  4. Design: If it does not visually catch the eye, it won’t work. Look into using Canva and try to design in a way that attracts the eye.
  5. Give: Educate and give to them what you know. Remember that you are serving them! What can you offer?

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

I work to share what I can of my personal self and I also respond to all of their messages personally. I want them to feel seen and understood and to know that I am a real person listening to them!

As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The power of one referral can transform a business. If everyone shared their friends’ business with one person, this would turn into a snowball effect that allowed more small businesses and service providers to be visible. Think and referral within your network first — reach for the small biz owner and support those who you love most! This could bring so much good to the women who are just getting started or trying to put themselves out there 🙂

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I have really looked up to Jenna Kutcher as I’ve been building my business! She’s a mom of two as well — and that makes her even more inspiring to me! I would love to have breakfast or lunch with her! 😉

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

We can stay in touch on my email list at petersonvirtualassistant.com or on Instagram @petersonvirtualassistant

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!