Confessions of a Reluctant Self-Promoter

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This is article is for those, who like me, have struggled to stand out in a way that does not stand apart from who they are. Throughout my career I found it difficult to self-advocate or self-promote. It just felt to do so would be disingenuous to some of my core beliefs such as humility and even integrity. I know factually, that I missed out on opportunities. Yet, I was able to self-justify my inaction by telling myself that I could stand tall and look myself in the mirror. Let me tell you, that was a load of crap!

I found it difficult to self-advocate or self-promote. It just felt to do so would be disingenuous to some of my core beliefs

When I started my business, I was confronted with the reality that self-promotion was a must. Not doing so might enable me to look myself in the mirror, but I would not be able to afford the house in which it was hung. That was a frightening and uncomfortable realization.

I am not demeaning those who are comfortable in overt, bold and aggressive self-promotion. There is no doubt it can be compelling and effective to be told that if you sign up in the next hour, or if you are one of the first 10 to respond to an offer, you are going to receive some benefit. Further, there are those who are completely comfortable talking about themselves and why someone would be crazy not to work with them or their business. Most of us have known that person who has the swagger to walk into the boss' office and tell her why they deserve a promotion. But this article is not for them. The country artist Toby Keith had a hit song called "I Want to Talk About me". Here is the rub, I don't! It makes me nervous, uncomfortable and awkward, and I am sure that I am not alone. It is for those of us that this article is written.

What do people like us do? How do we establish top of mind awareness for our brand, either personal or corporate? Do we just sit on the sidelines while those comfortable, confident and adept at self-promotion get all the good gigs? The answer is no. We take a different approach. We first recognize that like those of us uncomfortable with aggressive self-promotion, there are those equally uncomfortable with aggressive self-promoters. Therefore, we don't talk about ourselves, rather we listen. We don't tout our value; we just add it. We do this because if feels right. We do this because it is authentic, and we do this because it is effective.

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How do we accomplish this, you ask? We ask, listen and learn from our ideal clients about their struggles, obstacles and challenges. Then we bring forward content, tools, tips and and anything else that will add value to them professionally or personally. We pull from our own expertise and those of others. We commit to consuming information and sharing it openly with those we feel it may serve or help. Most importantly, we expect nothing in return.

We are fortunate that we live in a world where this form of outreach is possible thanks to the advent of social media. Look around at whatever social platform you prefer and you will find those that focus on touting their value and those that just go about adding value. Both methods work. What I know is that the latter is far more aligned with who I am. What I have also found is that those clients who have come to me through this form of outreach turn out to be a much better fit.

So for those of you, for whom this approach resonates, let me leave you with two suggestions. First, read the book by Bruce Kasanoff, "How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk". He does a great job of detailing what I have shared in this article, and frankly I found it very affirming to read. Secondly, I do this for a living, and I help my clients do the same. So, here's my little bit of self-promotion; if this form of marketing sits well with your beliefs, please feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to help you take the next step.

Thanks for reading.

Elliot Begoun is a Business Growth Consultant and the Principle of The Intertwine Group. His purpose is to help businesses and business leaders grow. He works to solve real issues, establish strategic guardrails, develop integrative leaders and foster employee enlightenment.

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