I don’t like talking about myself. No, really. I know you’re thinking that I talk about myself on my blog and in social media outlets, etc... but I assure you, I’d much rather keep my life primarily private. I do totally enjoy sharing my thoughts about my passions and the things (and people) who matter to me, but talking about my accomplishments or strengths feels…. slimy. I even used to jokingly refer to my mom as my “walking resume” because I always shied away from crowing about myself but she happily touted my achievements to anyone who would listen!
But the problem comes in when I’m supposed to promote myself, and we all know promotion is a key component of business. I’m an author and need to promote my book (and myself, too). I’m a business owner and need to promote my business and my skills. I’m signed with a talent agency and need to promote my own personal brand via social media in order to land great work.
It feels forced sometimes, doesn’t it? A lot of people seem totally comfortable with publicly gloating. And many do it through “humble-bragging” (for the record, that’s still bragging, y’all! Insert a “#blessed” here). Good for them, I guess! Entire social media platforms have been created to cater to their self-adulation, so that’s fun for them.
But what about the rest of us who would rather let our accomplishments speak for themselves and keep our lives as private as possible?
Here’s my take.
1. You don’t have a choice sometimes, but you do have options.
As much as you might want to refrain from indulging in self-promotion, you might need to in order to achieve certain objectives. But don’t feel boxed in to promoting yourself and your services like everybody else does. If you contribute pieces of content to third party publications, but feel a little squirmy about posting a self-congratulatory tweet about it… you don’t have to! Instead, you could simply retweet the publication’s post that links to your article. You’re still sharing it, but you’re letting the publication toot your own horn instead of doing it yourself. There are plenty of ways to present factual pieces of information that speak to your expertise, while leaving the lens of your own interpretation out of it.
2. Let your digital presence do the sharing so your face-to-face self doesn’t have to.
If you were having a conversation with someone and he kept listing off his achievements while sporting an obnoxiously smug smile… you’d do a 180-degree turn and run the other way! Right? Patting your own back while sitting with someone face-to-face is a major turnoff, in any kind of interpersonal communication. So don’t feel like you need to ram your own successes down an innocent friend or customer’s throat in order to have them understand why you and your company are great. Instead, focus on beefing up your digital presence! Your website should detail all of your strengths and do so with vigor. If you’ve won awards, proudly display those badges on your home page. Have compelling case studies? Place them prominently on your site, and extract exciting excerpts to place in other key spots too. Be sure your website and your own personal LinkedIn are bursting with testaments of your skills and competence. This way, your interpersonal conversations can be just that – conversations that are human-to-human, and free from bombastic distractions.
3. Retain self-awareness at all times.
As you all know, I wrote a book about PR, but I’m convinced on a daily basis that my next book needs to be about self-awareness (this is partially written in jest, and partially written in dire seriousness). I have found that, within just about every area of PR and business and life, everyone could benefit from an extra dose of healthy self-awareness. The same holds true when trying to be tactful in your efforts around self-promotion. Try to think about how that picture you’re going to post, or that thinly veiled boastful email you’re about to send will be taken. If you were to be on the receiving end, would it cause you to think more highly of the individual who sent it or would it make you annoyed about the somewhat subliminal arrogance? Try to keep perspective and consider your ultimate goal whenever promoting yourself, your business and your products/services. If the promotional technique at hand doesn’t help you fulfill a specific purpose, nix it and find something else that does.
So the conclusion of all this is that yes, self-promotion and promotion of your company is important in today’s business landscape. Without it, you run the risk of fading into the background and being overlooked. But remember that there’s a time and place for certain types of promotion, and that “promotional” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “self-aggrandizing.” In fact, sharing your strengths can be handled tactfully in order to serve a purpose – and ultimately yield you some great results.