You know the feeling—maybe it’s a sense of dread when you’re told to toot your own horn, bang your own drum, or otherwise start promoting your own business? Or maybe sharing something you’ve written feels like standing in front of the mirror and applauding yourself?
As a blogger and introvert myself, I’m very familiar with the dilemma. I post something, then cringe at the thought of saying “Hey world, here I am! Come look at me!”
But when we start our own project or become self-employed, we know that no one is going to do the marketing for us. We have to step up and be our own best marketers, which, for those of us who hate calling attention to ourselves, can be really tough.
The good news is that like most things, self-promotion gets easier with time and practice. I’ve put together a few tips for all timid entrepreneurs that have helped me.
Where does the fear come from?
The most important thing is to start with some self-reflection and think about where your fear might come from. Why do you feel weird promoting yourself? Is it a fear of rejection? Uncertainty? Making yourself vulnerable, or feeling like an imposter? Or maybe that people will think you’re full of yourself? It might also be a fear of success, because success can lead to change, and change is scary.
Whatever is causing you to feel queasy, it’s always good to at least know where it comes from. If you know the core problem, it’s easier to look at the whole thing with a little distance and say “ok, this is just in my head.” The next step is to try to turn some of these negative thoughts into positive ones.
Change your perspective
Self-promotion might make you feel like a sleazy, cliche salesmen from a Hollywood movie. But if you think about it, you’re not selling some scam or cheap product. You’re selling you! Or you’re selling your creative work, a service you offer, or products you’ve chosen. Whatever it is, you know it’s something good, and you certainly don’t have to feel like a phony when you try to communicate that.
Another way to think about it—you’re providing something that’s actually really useful to people. If you find the right target audience, they can use what you’re offering to make their lives easier. So by promoting yourself, you’re actually doing them a favor, right?
The bottom line is that you have to 100% believe that what you’re providing is a good product, that it will help people, and that it has value. If you’re not completely behind what you do, how can you expect others to be?
Think about your party pitch
If your fear stems from not knowing what to say about your business, then do a party pitch. Good news for us introverts, you don’t even need to go to a real party to do this!
Just imagine you’re at a party and someone asks you about your business. “What exactly are you doing again?” Now assuming you don’t run away for a drink refresh when the question comes up, you would give your party pitch. This is the casual, no-pressure, informal story of what you do, the one that you would tell your friends, acquaintances, or people you like.
Thinking of your business in this way can help you talk about yourself in a more natural, interesting way—without feeling the need to get really formal or use lots of buzzwords or jargon.
Reward yourself for small victories
If it’s really difficult to put yourself in the spotlight, don’t do it alone. Next time you’re hesitating before sending your newsletter or posting your Facebook post, invite a friend to hit “submit” with you. Then share a piece of cake or a glass of wine as your reward.
And if your post doesn’t get the number of reactions you were hoping for, that’s completely normal. Don’t worry. Have more cake.
Are there any other strategies you’ve used that have helped you be more comfortable with self-promotion? We would love to hear them.