Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Networking: An Opportunity for Shameless Self-Promotion

Self-promotion begins with promoting and helping others first. Recommend others you trust and would do business with. Networking is about building long-lasting business relationships, trust and credibility and if you’re authentic, the promotion is a natural evolution; good things will come to you.

There is a fine line between relationship building and blatant self-promoting. If you remember to always be helpful in your promotional efforts, you should be able to avoid ever being too shameless. If you reach out to someone and they choose not to reach back, thank them for their time and move on.

To increase credibility, you must invest in the relationship, demonstrate ability and authenticity and persevere over time proving that you seriously interested in the other person, not just looking for quick personal gain. The main rule of self-promotion is to be the best version of yourself.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others – Mahatma Gandhi

Be shameless but professional in your approach. Be considerate of your fellow networkers. They are there for the same reason you are. Give them the opportunity to shamelessly self-promote themselves. Equal opportunity works.

Since childhood we have been taught that it’s not polite to brag about ourselves and our accomplishments. Hogwash! Doing this not only makes other people aware of our accomplishments and expertise, but shapes their perceptions of us. Talk about your accomplishments in a confident way.

There is a chapter in my book, “Ten Commitments of Networking” that is titled, “Be Yourself!” So many people who network don’t do that. They try to be someone that they think someone else thinks they should be.

Some think they need to be forceful, aggressive, and pushy to get what they want. What they need to learn is that doesn’t work. Be yourself. If, by your own nature, you are forceful, aggressive, and pushy you better back off a little and soften your approach otherwise you will make more enemies than friends.

Shameless self-promotion is a concept every online business owner needs to understand. Self-promotion is pretty easy to understand. It’s the act of spreading the word about yourself and your services. You just have to learn to be a little shameless with your self-promotion. It isn’t about being annoying, disruptive, arrogant, loud or brash. It’s about being assertive, persistent and confident.

If you think it’s beneath you to promote your business, then you’re in for one long and lonely ride. Get over yourself! Come out of your shell. Each time you muster the courage to promote yourself it becomes easier the next time. If you are struggling with the fear that you have nothing valuable to offer that is something that you must work on. Consider hiring a networking coach.

You must be a shameless self-promoter, but do it with finesse. Self-promotion is not a dirty word. It is not a bad thing. Bring out the trumpets. If you don’t toot your own horn, who will toot it? Be your own cheerleader! If you won’t talk about your achievements, don’t expect anyone else to do so, but remember that your goal is to be savvy in your approach and leave the brainless techniques to someone else. Don’t be forgettable! Let your passion for what you do drive your efforts rather than your ego.

Effective self-promotion is a learned skill that takes practice. Some feel self-promotion is selfish. It is not. Only and always talking about yourself and your accomplishments is being selfish. Self-promotion shines a light on the things we want to share with the world. It’s about seizing every opportunity to present yourself and your services in a way that people can handle, without overdoing it. Learn to know the difference between being a pest and being persistence. You are the best person to tell others about what you offer and you should take advantage of situations that allow you to do so.

It’s important to let others know about your achievements, but don’t do this at the expense of bad manners. Find the balance. Know when it’s appropriate to talk about your accomplishments and when you should keep your mouth shut. A good self-promoter knows the value of listening to others.

When your life is out of balance, nothing works. Too much pressure at work, too much pressure at home and not enough time to take care of either. Balancing your life is not about time it’s about your values. Some people believe if they could add a few more hours to each day, they could balance their life. Your life will never be balanced until you determine what you truly value and live in harmony with them. – Mack Newton

Learn the difference between selling and telling. The best salespeople never appear to be selling anything. They connect with you on a personal level, ask about your life and dreams and then offer to assist you in any way they can.

Never apologize for promoting yourself. If you’re going to promote yourself, at least do it without excuses and disclaimers. You will most likely have to endure criticism from others. It has been my experience that those who criticize do so out of jealousy and insecurity. Be respectful of others and accept criticism with class.

As long as you are serving others and have the courage to speak up for what you believe in don’t let criticism bother you. Telling your personal story with finesse and creative flair will only lead to more opportunities. Look for fresh ideas that work for others. Become involved in conversations and be ready and willing to present your information and your services when the opportunity presents itself.

When you are creative with your self-promotion it will become more attractive and will be more palatable to everyone. You must not run from person to person just long enough to talk about your business. This is the quickest way to alienate yourself from others.

Write an article or report that will educate others about your services (of something about how you can help others) without having the focus be all about you and give it away. Add a line about something you’re proud of to your e-mail signature. Put it at the bottom of every e-mail you send.

There is a sign in my office that says, “Do something everyday to promote my business!” Sometimes – in the busyness and daily grind of activities and routines – I need a reminder. I will often brainstorm with others in my related field about effective ways to work together to self-promote each other.

If people aren’t seeking you out from watching your interactions with others, you need to rethink your self-promotion plan and change your strategy. First impressions count big time. How you approach a potential contact is the key to developing a path that will produce meaningful dialogue and become mutually beneficial.

shameless2My friend and Shameless Self-Promotion Diva, Debbie Allen says, “Natural self-promoters are those people who don’t hesitate to show the world what they can do and have done, and for which they receive recognition in the form of money, fame or service to others – their rewards for many sales. We can emulate what works for them, regardless of our goals.”

Never put down your competition. This only distracts from your integrity. Focus on your triumphs and resist the temptation of making other people or companies look bad. Success without integrity, joy, and connection simply doesn’t make sense. People like to do business with people they trust; people who are authentic; people who are confident but not overbearing. Learn the difference between conceit and confidence.

Integrity is also doing everything you say you’re going to do. Keep your word!

“What is integrity? Integrity means words and behaviors match. There are people we know we trust and people we know that we don’t. The people we trust have words and actions that match and the people we don’t have words and actions that don’t match. It’s that simple. A lapse of integrity means a betrayal of your own values and is a direct assault on your self-respect. You won’t like yourself and won’t know why.” – Mack Newton

A healthy balance of work, pleasure, business, social, family, etc., promotes and gives off a feeling of well-being, which is very helpful for networking. Trying to define life balance is not easy, however we usually know it when we see it in others, and – if we are smart – we respond to it.

You can bring a level of enthusiasm to the party without being pushy. Be like the Energizer Bunny. We all need to work on being energetic but not aggressive; tolerant without compromising yourself. Being more understanding and having consideration for others are other qualities to work on.

“The key to self-promotion is persistence. You can’t start and stop. Building relationships with people is a constant seed-planting and watering process. So if you consider yourself introverted or shy, get over it – at least during the time you spend promoting yourself. The message you must convey is this: I have something of value to offer to you. Sit right down so I can tell you all about it.” – Ilise Benun

Self-promotion with authenticity is one of the most generous things you can do. To understand why this is, let’s look at what’s behind much of our discomfort with self promotion. We avoid self-promotion to the extent that we fear what we (and everyone else) will see in the harsh light of reality. No one is perfect. You most likely will not do it right or please everyone all the time. Just do your personal best.

When we accept the challenge of putting ourselves out there as a call to deeper engagement rather than shallow manipulation, we are putting ourselves on the line for the sake of something bigger than we can imagine. Self-promotion must be part of your overall marketing mix. The opportunity to talk about your business should be the root behind every marketing effort you undertake.

NOTE: Read, “Self-Promote or Disappear!: A Discourse on the Propriety of Puttin’ on the Blitz! ” by Larry James from Debbie Allen’s book, “Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters.”

netHQ

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!

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4 Comments »

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