Selling their skills like the rent is due tonight.
The tricky part is that, to most of us, self-promotion doesn’t come naturally.
Like, at all.
We cringe. We clam up. We feel next-level awkwardness. But if you want to thrive? Take comfort from the fact self-promotion is uncomfortable for most of us, and do it anyway.
Here are six ways to get started…
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
First things first: There’s no shame in self-promotion. There’s only shame in keeping quiet about your skills.
“You have a choice: you can either stay in the safe, silent zone (where you’re doing yourself a major disservice), or you can put yourself out there and make things happen. ”
Life is too short to stay silent about all you have to offer. Choose the latter.
UP YOUR ONLINE GAME
Exercise: Take five minutes to review your LinkedIn profile through the eyes of a potential client or recruiter. Really look at it objectively, and ask yourself the tough questions:
- What makes it different from the next person in your field?
- Is your profile honestly attention-grabbing?
- Does your profile reflect your personality in any way, or could it belong to anyone?
Read it out loud and hear how it sounds to someone else. While I’m not saying it needs to read like a Daily Mail headline, you’re so much better than beige.
TELL YOUR STORY
Next step: your bio. Branding is all about storytelling, and your personal bio is no different.
Real talk: nobody cares that you’re organised, hard-working, diligent… who isn’t on LinkedIn? People care about what you’ve achieved and *why* you do what you do.
Ultimately, they care about you.
Pro tip: In January 2017, LinkedIn had a major redesign. Your summary is no longer fully shown at first glance (to read further, a viewer needs to click to expand). FYI, it’s 220 characters for desktop, and 92 for mobile. Make those first characters count.
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QUANTIFY YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
I tell my coaching clients this all the time: “It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you achieve.”
So you ‘managed email marketing’? That’s great and worth mentioning. But so did every other marketing manager out there.
People care about what percentage you increased open rates by. They care about the click through rates. They care about the bottom line and how you contributed to it.
Even if you’re in a creative role, reference your impact in numbers. E.g. “my subject lines saw open rates increase by 40%”. BOOM.
Business people talk in numbers. Make sure you do, too.
KEEP AN ACHIEVEMENTS LIST
This one’s simple: no matter what industry you’re in, keep track of your achievements, big and small.
I keep mine in a Google doc, and refer back to it whenever I’m going for a raise, a new job, a new project, or simply need a confidence boost.
PROMOTE OTHER PEOPLE
If the idea of promoting your work on the regular has you breaking out in hives, my advice is simple: start by promoting other people first. Get used to sharing, congratulating, and celebrating those around you. Do so daily. Then, over time, start weaving in your own work.
Self-promotion is like a muscle. It gets better (read: easier) every time you use it.
Share the blog post. Shout about the achievement. Retweet the praise.
Tell your story.
Your future self is counting on it.
Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.
I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...
Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.
And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.
The cognitive load is real, y'all.
But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.
Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.
The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.
Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.
And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.
Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.
Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.
Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.
When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.
Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.
"Sure! If you work 16 hrs/day or your dad is the CEO"
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