Self–promotion. It’s the ultimate dilemma for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and individuals.
You don’t want to be pushy salesman … but you don’t have a marketing department like Apple. I mean, if you don’t tell people about your product, service, or idea … who will?
Self–promotion is a requirement, but there are so many areas where you can go wrong that it becomes difficult to stay true to yourself. What you need are networking tips that actually work.
The good news? It is possible to self–promote without ruining your reputation.
Here are 10 ways to self–promote that will always work and will never come across as sleazy.
1. Be excited.
Is this something that you genuinely want to promote? If not, why are you doing it?
We’re all looking for a story we can follow: a product we can trust, a person we can believe in.
Genuine enthusiasm and excitement shows that you are that person. You’re the story they have been waiting for.
People naturally gravitate towards stories that are promoted with passion and enthusiasm. It’s the energy that draws people in.
If you don’t believe in your product, service, or idea … how is anyone else supposed to believe in it?
2. Help someone else.
Do you know why people who volunteer are awesome? Because volunteers give even when they know they won’t get anything in return.
What if you took the same approach to business? How much easier would it be for people to help you? How willing would they be to spread your message if you spent most of your time meeting their needs?
People do business with those that they know and trust. There is no better way to build trust than to help others without expecting anything in return.
Promotion is easy when good will is abundant.
3. Listen more.
A large part of successful self-promotion comes from framing your message in the right way.
If you listen more, then you’ll have a much better chance of understanding what is important to people. If you know what’s important to them, then you know how to pitch your product, service, or idea to them. Find out what they enjoy and what they despise.
Take some time to hear their story.
4. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
If you’re not the outgoing and boisterous type, then don’t try to be. If you can’t play the whole we’re–best–friends–even–though–we–just–met game, then don’t fake it.
Self–promotion should be about promoting who you are and what you stand for. If you’re insincere, people can smell it from a mile away.
In other words, self–promotion should be about promoting yourself and not someone you’re pretending to be.
5. Don’t act like the world owes you something.
You know what people hate? People who expect the world to roll out the red carpet for them. People who did one great thing and try to ride that out for years. People who feel like they deserve better because they want it instead of working for it.
You know what people love? People who smile when they could complain. People who think of others when they could think of themselves. People who keep working when they’ve earned the right to stop. People who remain humble and respectful regardless of their success.
Check your ego at the door and lose the sense of entitlement. You’ll gain a lot of fans when you stop acting like you should have them.
6. Don’t “hope” for the best.
The best self–promoters are go–getters. They get in the thick of things. They make things happen. They work when everyone else is sleeping.
Here’s a real surprise: if you want to promote something, you have to actually promote it. All of that work you put in to building your brand, creating your product, or learning your craft? Well, that’s just half the battle.
When you’re big like Microsoft, your job is to run the business. When you’re small, your job is to tell people about it.
Yes, it’s your responsibility to talk about your work.
7. Introduce two people.
Here’s an easy way to get two people to talk about you: introduce them to each other.
When you’re the mutual connection, it’s natural for the two of them to discuss what you’re up to. This makes self–promotion easy and it is another way that you can provide value to people in your network.
Here is a simple email script I use to introduce two people. (Hat tip to Keith Ferrazzi.)
Mark and Lisa,
I want to introduce the two of you. Mark, I’ve already bragged a bit about Lisa to you. Lisa graduated from/works at/helped with school/company/event… which is where we met. She also has [mutual interest with Mark].
And Lisa, Mark is a student/employee/volunteer at school/company/event… which is where we met. He has [some relevant accomplishment or achievement.]
Given that both of you have an interest in [mutual interest], I figured it would be a good idea to put you in touch. Not to mention that I suspect that you’ll like each other as well.
This simple format is an easy way to become a connector in your network and encourage your friends and co–workers provide value to each other.
For even more strategies on introductions and networking, check out these networking tips.
8. Create the world’s greatest widget.
The phrase “self–promotion” has a bad reputation because people often use it as a way to promote terrible products, services or other self–serving ideas.
The number one way to become an amazing self–promoter is to build something that promotes itself.
If you actually solve a real need, then people will talk about it. If you actually help someone achieve a goal, then people will talk about it. If you actually make people happy, then people will talk about it.
In the beginning, nobody will know about your product no matter how great it is, but it’s so much easier to gain a following and become a successful self–promoter if you create a product, service, or idea that speaks for itself.
9. Realize that it is about value, not experience.
When you’re self–promoting, the first move for many people is to start touting all of the experience they have.
“I’ve worked in advertising for 17 years.”
“I have 6 years of graphic design experience.”
“I’ve been helping retail businesses for 12 years now.”
I know that I’ve made this mistake before as well, but it’s remarkable how often people talk about how long they have been doing something rather than what type of value they can provide.
And guess what? Nobody cares how long you’ve been selling trinkets.
If you’re going to promote something, then show specific results instead of making generic statements. Put a number to your work. Proof is the strongest promotional tool you have.
How much can you increase sales by? How much money can you save someone? What is the math that shows why your idea is better?
Numbers and results offer clear proof of why you and your idea are better than the rest. How much easier is it to promote something if you have proof of how it provides value?
10. Stop sprinting, start walking.
Most self–promoters act like they are sprinting on a track when they should be walking through a neighborhood instead.
When you sprint, you put flyers up on every door you pass. When you walk, you build relationships with people one at a time.
When you sprint, you start rushing and do things you wouldn’t normally do, like spamming people. When you walk, you find out what is important to people first and then show them how you might be able to help.
When you sprint, you seem desperate and pushy. When you walk, you seem genuine and helpful.
Slow down. Life is a long race.