Taking the Shame Out of Self Promotion Edition:
We all have those people in our lives who think the axis of the earth is actually aligned with their bellybutton and annoy the living hell out of the rest of us with that factoid (usually actually not the case). BUT if you are a freelancer, plan on having your own brand, or want to further yourself in a creative field, you sometimes have to toot your own horn a little. TOOT TOOT. So how do we self promote without being viewed as self-obsessed, pretentious b-holes?
Here are 5 ways to Be a Better Promoter of Your Personal Brand:
1) Be Humble: This is first on the list because it’s absolutely the one point on this list that is MUY IMPORTANTE. If you listen to none of the rest of these rules, (I don’t blame you), listen to this one. The biggest turn-off in business or otherwise, is when you can smell the bullshit in the room when you are around someone that is self promoting. The truth is, no matter how much you think people like your ass, when all you do is talk about the EPIC things that are going on with you (personally or otherwise), they are going to be annoyed. While most of our annoyance stems from insecurity and a little jealousy (yes, im jealous that your client is asking you to travel the world to look for inspiration for their Fall 2012 collection), the rest of it is ACTUALLY because you are irritating in the way you communicate. It’s smart to share exciting news, but figure out how to do it in a way that’s palatable for the masses (side note…most of what you think is NEWS, is not). Also, streamline what information you release…share certain things with your inner circle (who have to love you by default), and then when things are actually big moments, your larger network will be ready to celebrate with you. If in doubt, don’t share. Also, talk about what you are doing, but first ask what others have going on. People love to talk about themselves, and trust me, they will be more open to hearing about the rad things you’ve got cookin’, once they get a moment in the spotlight.
2) Know Your Weaknesses: We all know where we just KILL it, so let’s take a moment and really suck at in relation to your brand or career.
Next, surround yourself with a group of people who ARE good at those things. When a situation, job, or opportunity arises that you think might be out of your range, identify who may be better for the job and pass it along or suggest a collaboration of sorts. Yes, you might lose out on money occasionally (dolla dolla billz), but when it comes down to it, you weren’t the right fit, and you probably would have sucked the big, fat one in the end. The person needing something done will appreciate you for your sense of community, will respect that you are willing to sacrifice moolah for their well being, and trust, they will come back to you for something that IS your thing. Also, that person in your network will forever be grateful, and they WILL return the favor and may even buy you a lot of vodka..oh wait…that’s just me. Doesn’t it feel good to not have to be everything to everyone?
3) Support Outside Vision: Investing in the people around you first and foremost, is vital to keeping your personal brand afloat. I would say that 90% of my freelance friends would say that the majority of their work comes from people they know, have met, or have been recommended through. Get involved for realz with what your contemporaries are up to, support their personal brands and figure out ways to collaborate together or at least share tips and tricks with each other in navigating the big, wide, world out there. Most of all, be genuine in your desire to create relationships with your peers and only get involved if you actually want to be there. No one likes a faker. PLUS, people always get tired of you talking about your stuff jerkface, so when you share something exciting that someone else is doing, it solidifies the fact that you aren’t just looking out for #1.
4) Create Buzz: Figure out concretely what you think about things, what your style is, and stick to it. You can’t be pleasing to everyone and usually success comes with some sort of extreme. No one wants to talk about the very palatable photographer who just does run of the mill work and will do whatever the client wants. It’s a fine line in holding your creative vision and being flexible, but I would say if you have to compromise your vision, don’t get involved. Be like cottage cheese, it’s not a food that people are apathetic about, you either love it, or hate it. People talk when they love or hate something, not when they are in MEH land…so don’t be afraid to be hated, it’s actually kinda fun. (please send all hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
5) Follow Up and Follow Through: Do what you say. All the time. That said, don’t take on more than you know you can manage with your time, skills, and finances. Be clear in communicating when you are overwhelmed, feeling stretched, or under compensated. Letting bitterness take root in your relationships will only make you resent them, and yourself so be honest and clear right from the start.
Sorry this was so business-y, I’ll be back to writing about eating lasagna on the subway and wearing mandals tomorrow.
Business Chinae OUT!