I’d like to begin this article with the simple observation. I love the fact that I used the word ‘turd’ in the headline and you have chosen to read this. You are an amazing person. That is all.
Anyway, self promotion is a part of life. Any time we try to sell something we selectively highlight its good qualities and ignore or downplay its deficiencies. Any time we go on a date (which is a lot like selling something) we talk about how great and charming and understanding we are while judiciously choosing not to mention how much we drool when we sleep. And anytime we post a free article online, we’re hoping that it will somehow, someday lead to something that will pay us.
The point is, all of us are constantly engaged in self-promotion at one level or another. We do it because most of us can’t afford to have people promote us for us. But that doesn’t mean self-promotion is somehow degrading. It simply means that it’s a fundamental part of life.
That said, there’s a difference between intelligent self-promotion and the snake-oil kind that will make your audience feel greasy and cheated. (This is the same difference, by the way, that earns some people a second date while others get served a restraining order.) If you are spending any time promoting yourself to others for any reason – and I know that you are – here are four cardinal principles to keep in mind.
Focus First On Helping Others – Bad salespeople want to make a sale in order to earn some money. Good salespeople want to help customers solve a problem they face. That difference might seem metaphysical, but the way you think will determine how you act. If you begin with the goal of helping people find solutions, you’ll end up promoting yourself to people who genuinely need whatever it is you have to offer.
Make It a Habit – You’re unlikely to win someone over with a single comment or commercial or post, just like you’re unlikely to get someone to agree to marry you after a single date. (Side note: if they do agree to marry you after the first date, run away as fast as you can.)
Expect To Give A Lot Away For Free – Conference vendors always have free stuff for the attendees to take home. Dentists throw so many free toothbrushes and floss packets at you that it’s almost embarrassing. Door-to-door vacuum salesmen offer to vacuum a room for you so you can see how amazing their vacuums are. Even if you’re promoting an intangible product like consulting services, you’ll probably give a lot of advice away for free before people realize the benefit of paying you.
Don’t Give Everything Away For Free – There’s a saying about cows and milk and home and paying for it, but you already know that. As you’re self-promoting and giving away a bunch of awesome free stuff, make sure people always know that you could do even more for them if they wanted you to. And eventually, if you do all of this correctly, they will want you to.
And now you know how to self-promote without looking like a turd. Congratulations! I’m glad you read this, and more importantly I’m glad you don’t want to look like a turd. Because I’ve looked at turds before, and they’re just not that pretty.
How do you self-promote without looking like a turd?