For better or worse, self-promotion makes the world go round.
The trick is tooting your own horn without coming off as a self-absorbed jerk. Forbes contributor Bruce Kasanoff wrote a book about this very topic; his position boils down to this simple maxim: “Help others, and you will benefit, too.”
Kasanoff is onto something, but simply scratching your peers’ backs on the expectation that they’ll scratch yours does not a career make. Even successful people overlook these five lesser-known self-promotion tips that let them stand front and center without worrying about stealing the show.
1.Give Some of the Best Stuff Away for Free
This is actually a modified Kasanoff tip. Kasanoff writes, “[t]he secret to success in social media is to give valuable ideas away for free. What you get back over the long run is worth more than what you ‘gave away.’”
This is marketing 101. Giving away quality bits of wisdom or expertise is a great way to burnish your credibility and enter the rarefied ranks of bona fide thought leaders. Sure, you’ll miss out on whatever marginal gain you might have otherwise extracted, but good will almost always outlives money.
2.Set Up Personal Profiles on Lesser-Known Directories & Social Platforms
This is more of a housekeeping tip than any sort of “secret sauce” advice.
Like it or not, you know better than anyone that your public persona is an open book. Before they ever reach out to you, people Google you. What they find on that all-important first results page means much for what happens next. A thin or sketchy presence might permanently turn them off; a robust, multifaceted, genuine online footprint is likely to ingratiate them.
Influencing your online search results is a numbers game. You might already have personal or professional social profiles on top-of-mind platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. What about lesser-known directories that might, if anything, be more relevant to the sorts of audiences you’re trying to appeal to?
We’re talking directories like Crunchbase, Merchant Circle, Manta. If there’s even a shadow of a justification for you to appear on such sites, take the time to set up a profile. Film producer David Mimran might not be actively seeking funding for his studio, but that’s not about to stop him from maintaining his Crunchbase profile.
3.Say It Straight
Be as verbose in your self-promotion as you see fit. But don’t get bogged down by buzzwords and truisms that go out of style almost as fast as they fly out of your mouth. You don’t sound any smarter for it.
Instead, speak about yourself — and matters on which you can legitimately opine as an expert — in language lay people can understand.
4.Keep a Tight Portfolio and Hammer It Consistently
Just as there’s no reason to go all-in on buzzwords and catchphrases, there’s little upside in leaving your wheelhouse (straying outside your lane, if you prefer) simply to get a word in. Focus on the quality and value of the content you produce and disseminate, not quality.
5.Schedule Open-Ended, Mutually Beneficial Conversations
This tip edges back toward “scratch my back” territory, and it’s not without its detractors.
One potent argument against “meeting for the sake of meeting” is that, well, it’s a waste of time. It’s true that any meeting, fruitful or not, takes time. Whether that time is wasted is up to the parties to decide for themselves.
Meeting without a tightly defined agenda can be productive, though; even serendipitous. One structured variant is 1 Million Cups, the seemingly ubiquitous entrepreneur meetup series. Even if you’re not pitching to a room full of your peers, a spitball session with one or two potential vendors, clients, mentors, or fixers can open unexpected doors — or simply get your name out in the right circles.
Now, multiply that by 10 or 15 meetings a month and we’re talking.
What’s Your Self-Promotion Secret?
These aren’t the only low-key self-promotion tips worth pursuing. Chances are good you have a couple go-to strategies. You don’t have to share, as long as you keep pounding that pavement.