Friday, March 15, 2019

The Art of Self-Promotion (How to Master Talking Up You and Your Brand)

Everything becomes easier when you know who you are and are courageous enough to share it with the world.

I've discovered that there's a certain time and place for humility when it comes to taking up space in your industry (climbing the career ladder ain't it). This is where self-promotion comes in -- albeit it can be a murky territory because with self-promotion there's a fine line between sounding pompous if we overshare, and missing opportunities if we don't share enough. I've met people who seize every opportunity to self-promote and share who they are, and I've met those on the opposite side -- who would rather stand in one space and casually sip their drink while pretending to be fascinated by whatever they found on their phone screen (guilty!). But whichever category you fall into, self-promotion is a skill worth mastering, and I'm breaking down the art to doing so successfully:

  • Start by identifying your voice and your offering. In a few words, can you sum up who you are, what you do, and what you offer? Try condensing your 'story' to a few words doing your best to humanize yourself and create a personal connection to your voice and your offering. For example something I may say is: My name is Joy and I've always had a heart for helping people thrive in their business and personal life. Identifying your voice and offering will help you 
  • Rehearse this “pitch” with close friends, peers, and maybe a mentor.  I've found that it's often most effective to bounce ideas off your peers and someone who is more senior and more experienced. Once your gain feedback, rehearsing your pitch will help you gauge if people outside of your immediate industry can easily grasp your who/what/how. Be confident about your pitch (even if you must fake the funk). A confident delivery will make people believe in you all the more.
  • Have a goal and be reciprocal: Before you self-promote, have a goal in mind. What do you hope to offer this person or what do you hope to gain? By now, it's likely you've discerned that self-promotion goes hand-in-hand with networking. The best self-promoters are those who are genuinely interested in others (and who can find a way for their brand to service others).
  • Announce yourself and knock on doors: Now that you've perfected your pitch, it's time to share it with others and self-promote. I started self-promoting literally by announcing myself. Send an email or message to your network and contacts letting them know what you now offer. If you have a portfolio to attach to this message, send that along too. When I first made my career pivot, a friend of mine (hey, Naomi B.!) gave me this advise, and when I followed, doors flew opened as I knocked. Who are three people you can reach out to via email or social media this week?
  • Use your resources and practice in your online space: I'm a firm believer in making good use of what's in your hand. Are you already plugged in on social media platforms? If yes, start self-promotion there. Make sure your bio reflects your voice and your offering. If you're a photographer, go ahead and update your bio to reflect your offering. If you're a fashion influencer helping your community to look and feel stylish, take your profile a step further than sharing carefully curated photos and add your offering to your bio. And a bonus step in self-promoting is announcing yourself! Share your offerings on your feed with a call to action photo and caption. Embrace your audience in your Instagram story by using your voice and again, announce your offering. (Ex: If you want to be booked for photography, let them know you are available and back it up by sharing BTS of a shoot or the finished product of an edited photo).
  • Attend events with intention: Make it your aim to speak to at least one person in the room (with your goal of speaking to them in tow) -- you'll check one thing off your list which will boost your confidence. 
    • Master small talk: Before you self-promote, be mindful about getting to know the other person. Ask questions about them that go beyond the “what do you do”? You can compliment their work (or style), ask how they heard of the event, or even where they travelled from to attend. Small talk (which I'll be the first to admit, can be dreadful, but, when crafted mindfully, it can lead to bigger (eventual) opportunities.
Small talk can lead to bigger opportunities.
  • Create business cards and distribute when necessary. I honestly did this last because I underestimated it’s value and purpose. Reality is, a number of people will likely store your business card at the bottom of their purse. Others will copy your information and email you after your first meeting. Have business cards handy after ever coffee catch up, during every event, and even when you grab a drink from the local mom and pop bakery (they might need your services too, or know someone who needs to attend your event).
  • Look the part: Believe or not, a large part of self-promotion (and networking) dwell on your presentation and personal brand. It goes beyond your perfect pitch and overflows into how you carry yourself. Does your personal presentation match your voice and your vision? (I share more on personal branding here). 
  • Follow up: Don't be afraid to connect further with someone after your first meeting and initial pitch. Self-promotion goes beyond the initial self-promotion -- drop an email, connect on social media, and nurture the new connection that you've just shared your voice and your vision with.
What's your go-to method for self-promotion?


Navy Oversized Blazer: ZARA (old)
WHITE Button Down Blouse: H&M 
Mom Fit Jeans: ZARA (similar)


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