Promoting Yourself Is Self Care.
“How did I get here” is one of the most common questions that I get when engaging with aspiring professionals looking to further their career or underrepresented creatives seeking exposure and resources from a corporation. The answer lies in a multitude of direct and indirect actions I’ve taken over the years through experience as well as the adoption of a few belief systems to help push me over those self-defeating traps of negative thinking. If I could sum it up in a catchy run on sentence, my answer would be my ambition and clear vision of what I want led me to the opportunities, emotional intelligence and leveraging shared values with the gatekeepers got me in the door, and my hustle and laser focus on results solidified my seat at the table affording me the room to grow . Each time I have a seat at any table my goal is to always leave the table in better standing than when I arrived.
The next line of questions usually come from people with my similar personality, you know those of us that are highly skilled at what we do, have accumulated the receipts to justify our worth in the market place from a pure performance based measuring stick but lack the air coverage and mass awareness of our personal brands. The question is usually, how can I put myself out there more? Additionally, some might comment on the seemingly dominant representation of people with less talent but more hype and are in prominent positions and levels of notoriety across all industries. My aim is to always look at the larger picture and ask myself what I must learn from the current state of the attention economy. I would always ask myself how can I be true to myself yet be competitive in an environment driven by metrics such as taste and likability over performance and quantitative impact?
The simple answer is to adapt by taking an approach that blends the two worlds. Continue to do the work that protects and builds your reputation but find ways that you feel comfortable highlighting your journey and those around you that play a critical role in your success. As you highlight yourself, identify others with similar values within your ecosystem and celebrate each other’s milestones as well as promote each other’s interests both online and offline. As you continue this behavior consistently, you are on a path of creating a community or scene of like-minded individuals with shared values that then can the give you the air coverage or amplification you need to not only bring attention to yourself but potentially build amazing collaborations and relationships.
Below I will share my point of view on self-promotion that I’ve used over the years. My hope is that my perspective may accelerate movement along your journey, and you will then pay it forward.
Understand that you can master the world of social media with a disciplined strategy without allowing the world of social media to master you. I highly suggest getting familiar with at least two of the Big 3 – LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. Social media if done right can get you in front of more people than you could possibly meet offline, and it can accelerate your personal branding efforts. Here’s my quick perspective on how these platforms can be used strategically without losing yourself.
LinkedIn is for entrepreneurs and white-collar professionals, here you will find the corporate professional community, recruiters, C suite executives, basically all your decision makers and gate keepers. This is where you can flex your knowledge of a specific industry by self-publishing articles, sharing articles you’ve read, behind the scenes view of your work, recaps of results, spark industry group conversations, etc. The LinkedIn community members are conditioned to read a bit longer than 130 characters so use their attention strategically.
Twitter is where you can show your personality and shape your elevator speech about who you are and your goals. The twitter users are conditioned to digest information in the smallest dosages possible so the idea is to capture attention quickly, sustain interest and if lucky drive them to a platform like your website, podcast or offline to an event or brand experience where they can give you more attention. Twitter is the best platform to develop your elevator pitch so that when you only have 30-60 seconds with a potential client or partner outside of social media you are better prepared to make a significant impression promptly.
To better understand, try to visualize attention as currency that you are trying to persuade your community to spend with you in exchange for some value which is usually in the form of entertainment, education, or a combination of both leading to your end goal. Instagram is where you can deliver a bit of entertainment and education, however the foundation is rooted in visual expression and creativity. Users come to Instagram to consume more visual content in the form of still photography and video. Much of Instagram popularity is driven by taste, your aesthetic, and who you are. On the flip-side, LinkedIn is driven by performance metrics such as the impact of what you’ve done whether in a professional or nontraditional arena. Use Instagram to shape your image, specifically how your personal or professional brand appeals to the eye.
Since social media allows you to speak directly to your community, if done strategically and effectively you can directly impact the narrative and perception of your brand. Best to remember, that your brand is not purely how you define it to the consumer, instead it is ultimately how your consumers define it to each other. Consequently, being certain of who you are, and looking for shared values within your community base, and clearly communicating consistently across these platforms will be instrumental in shaping how your community defines your brand.