Annoying Versus Useful Kinds Of Self-Promotion
As a content creator, I come into contact with other content creators—bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers, authors, life coaches, career coaches, and more—a lot and witness the various ways they self-promote. I’m often the target of their self-promotion. What I can say is that, the most effective self-promoters never even made it that obvious that they were selling me anything. I never felt like I was taken for a ride or tricked. I never felt like I was talked down to, or kissed up to. It’s a delicate dance; tooting your own horn but not too loudly. And, it’s a dance that must be danced. But, if you do get a reputation for being one of those obnoxious self-promoters, there’s really no going back. Here are annoying versus useful forms of self-promotion.
Annoying: At an intimate event
Don’t self-promote at your friend’s small diner party, birthday party, baby shower, or other rather personal and strictly social event. People attend social gatherings like those with the understanding that they’re safe from solicitation. If you get someone’s contact info, you can always email her another day. For today, eat the cake, talk about the birthday girl or incoming baby, and just have fun.
Useful: Networking events exist for a reason
Networking events are great places to, you know, network. They exist for a reason. Everyone at that happy hour, conference, or ice cream social is there with the understanding that they will be networked. So attend those, and don’t turn social events into networking events.
Annoying: Pitching a good friend
If you want a good friend to invest in your company, to promote your business through her already-popular one, or to be a customer, don’t pitch her. She’s your friend. Save the sales pitch for strictly professional contacts.
Useful: Be transparent about the ask
When it comes to trying to network a friend, the only way to do it without sabotaging the relationship is by being transparent. So, you can just say, “Hey, obviously feel free to say no, and know that our friendship always comes first, but is there any chance you’d be down to give my business a shout-out on your page?” She’ll appreciate you just being honest and straightforward, and acknowledging that this is beyond the realm of your normal relationship.
Annoying: Disguising it as a favor
Disguising your ask as a favor you’re doing for someone else is one of the grossest forms of self-promotion. If, for example, someone you know knows someone you want to know, don’t say, “You should give so-and-so my card, it will look good for you that you know me.”
Useful: Admit you’d benefit, too
If you’re benefiting in some way from a transaction, acknowledge that. Pretending you’re the one in total power, handing out the favors, always puts people off. Admit that this transaction would benefit you, too.
Annoying: Following/Friending to self-promote
The cold-calling, mass-requesting social media behavior is never that effective, and can do more harm than good. Don’t simply search a keyword in Instagram, follow every person who matches it, and write some generic thing like, “Great pic!” on a post from each of them. People can see right through that.
Useful: Research, and send personal messages
Really do your research. Find people and companies on social media that it would make sense to be in contact with. Learn about them. Send a personal message, with a specific and detailed ask or request.
Annoying: Latching onto someone’s success
So you see that somebody else’s book got published or some other musician got booked to play where you want to play. Don’t reach out to that person, and immediately start promoting yourself, asking they get you the same thing they just got.
Useful: Asking for guidance from the successful
If someone has something you want, ask for advice. Ask for guidance. Ask them to mentor you. They have too many people coming out of the woodwork and asking for help right now. But they’ll be glad to share their wisdom. From then, who knows—they may keep you in mind and actually help you later.
Virtue-signaling is one of the grossest forms of self-promotion and all too common. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a form of saying without saying “This is what I stand for” by publicly criticizing someone who stands for something else. So, for example, you may call out a company for not hiring enough women.
Useful; Just do good; don’t bad talk the bad
Rather than sh*t-talking those who stand against what you stand for, just do the thing you stand for. You don’t need to call out a company that doesn’t hire women, to make your company look good. If you have a company, and hiring women is important to you, then just hire women. Your good acts should speak for themselves and make sh*t-talking unnecessary.
Annoying: Sending repeated, unsolicited messages
The mass-messaging and sending unsolicited emails is never welcomed. Don’t treat self-promotion as a total numbers game, sending your newsletter or event flier to literally everyone in your friends list or contact list. That’s a way to get blocked quickly.
Useful: Keep track of your correspondence
Keep track of people who have shown an interest in what you do. Ask if it’s okay to reach out about future events or promotions. Write down whom you’ve reached out to, and who has or hasn’t responded.
Annoying: The fake humility
The humble brag is just the worst. This might be a social media post in which every sentence starts with something like, “I’m so grateful to…” or “I’m so honored to be…” and the ends with something impressive that person did.