Self promotion isn’t an obnoxious habit or a personality flaw—it’s a vital part of building your business. So why is it a topic so many business people avoid? This week on In Process, we caught up with Debby Stone, founder at Novateur Partners and author of The Art of Self Promotion, about the ways we can rewire ourselves to be better self promoters.
“I know, for me, sometimes self-promotion is very difficult because I think of it as bragging,” says Monahon. That’s a view shared by many, but it over looks one vital point: successful self promotion involves more than just you.
“At the end of the day, networking or any sort of business promotion is all about building relationships,” says Stone. “Self promotion is the art of telling your story in a way that makes people want to be in a conversation with you, and ultimately in a relationship with you, because that’s where business comes from.”
“We’re trained to be negative thinkers,” says Ashley of professions like law and accounting. The process of self-promotion can be a very positive undertaking, so approaching it as such can be a challenge for many people in those analytical roles.
“If you are a trained devil’s advocate, you’re going to come up with—inside your own head—more reasons not to promote yourself than someone who’s not trained to think that way. Lawyers in particular—and some other folks in business—tend to be very risk-averse, and this is a risky business. When you put yourself out there, you’re vulnerable.”
But there are ways to combat that hesitance and vulnerability that comes along with promoting yourself.
Learn to accept compliments.
“We reject compliments all the time by either downplaying—‘Oh, it was nothing,’ ‘It was really a team effort,’ ‘I didn’t do very much’—or we feel compelled to compliment the other person in return.” says Stone. “I always suggest practicing simply saying ‘Thank you,’ and taking in the actual compliment. That muscle of accepting the compliment is a muscle you can use to become a better self promoter.”
Keep an accomplishments log.
“We are all accomplishing things all the time, but typically we don’t recognize those accomplishments,” says Stone. “We only recognize the big ones.” Keeping a log of even the little wins can help you see what you’re doing right and remind you of the highlights you might want to talk about with others.
Be humble—up to a certain point.
“We want to be humble. We don’t want to lead with it,” says Stone. Think about the top five qualities someone hiring you might be looking for. Did you think of humility? Probably not. While the way you approach your story involves a level of humility, don’t let the impulse to downplay successes overshadow your capability to succeed.
Promoting yourself is like any other part of your career—you’re going to have a higher chance of success if you approach the task prepared. Think about finding yourself in an elevator or on a plane with someone who you’d like to connect with. You should take the time to work on the way you tell your personal story so that when timing is tight, you’re able to convey all the right points with confidence.
“Do some self reflection. What do I want to share? What goes into that story?” Stone says.
Use the buddy system.
“It could be a coach that you hire and pay, it could be a colleague or friend—get somebody who can help you gauge how far you are going in your self promotion,” Stone says. “Are you well within the safe zone, and you could turn it up a little bit? Or are you becoming an over-the-top obnoxious braggart? We don’t know that about ourselves.” Most people can stand to promote themselves much more than they already do, and having a third party to gauge that can make a big difference.
While these tips are a good starting point for self promotion, Stone touches on many more items in the full podcast: telling vs. selling, cultural obstacles, using technical jargon, and more. Stream the podcast in full in the player below.
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