Regardless of how passionate we are about our businesses, many small business owners are reluctant when it comes to self promotion. Why is it so hard for us to share our stories?
Stop being a wallflower
I used to be a shy person who mumbled something about ‘media’ when asked what I did. Now, I’m a shameless self-promoter.
I became one because I had to. I’d moved to Australia on the promise of an awesome job in the mobile and online video industry, but soon after starting it I realised I hated it, and decided to start my own business instead.
It was a great plan, except for the fact that I had just moved here from the other side of the world, and had no family, friends or network to support me. I also had a whopping $0 with which to fund my new business.
Sending emails with links to my show reel generated no leads whatsoever, so the only thing I could do to create the foundation for my business on the second-hand shoestring I found on the side of the road was network, present and make short videos.
At the time, public speaking was my idea of hell. I’d produced hundreds of video shoots, but cringed at the idea of being in front of a camera promoting my own business. I was equally reluctant to walk into a room full of strangers and start chatting away.
I had to get over myself and get on with it. I still cringe when I see a video of myself: a middle aged man with scruffy hair and a funny accent, but I’ve realised that other people aren’t that critical. They’re not watching the video for me; they’re there for the content.
It’s not bragging
Like many people, I’d been hesitant to put myself out there because I wasn’t comfortable blowing my own trumpet, and didn’t want to seem full of myself.
It might be a cultural thing, I think. I’ve recently spent a month shooting video in the USA, and no-one I filmed had any hesitation about sharing their ideas and telling the story around what they do.
In Australia and Europe, we tend to be a bit critical of that attitude, but having experienced that infectious American enthusiasm, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a lot to be learned from the way they approach self promotion.
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As business owners, we owe it to ourselves to become better communicators. Besides, promoting our businesses isn’t bragging; it’s projecting genuine enthusiasm.
The people I talked to weren’t giving some hard-core sales spiel. They were simply passionate about their ideas and their business. They love the new project they’re rolling out. They link their personality to what they love doing, and there is a genuine joy evident when they share their stories.
These people aren’t successful just because they create something awesome. They’re successful because they do that, and communicate how awesome it is.
Can’t I just tweet?
It’s very cosy and comfortable to hide behind email, Facebook and Twitter, but the real magic happens when you share your ideas. And that generally happens when you actually meet people, when you speak at a conference or when you make a video.
How about outsourcing?
Outsourcing your communication is solving the wrong problem. You can get someone to speak or write on your behalf, but would you connect to someone who couldn’t talk to you?
Is self promotion uncomfortable?
You bet. But if you’re comfortable you’re not growing. If you’re growing, you can’t be comfortable. Once you push through the pain barrier, you’ll find your communication skills starting to improve. Given what’s happening with online video and social media at the moment, great communicators will have a seriously big advantage over those that hide behind their computer screens.
If you’re one of those shy, retiring types and have learned how to put yourself out there regardless, please share your experiences below. Feel free to give yourself a bit of gratuitous self-promotion at the same time!