We put in hour after hour to ensure our business provides top-level service for our clients. But when it comes to promoting ourselves and our work, some of us have a mental block. We come up with all sorts of creative reasons for why promotion simply isn’t right for us.
The fact is, though, that we can build influence by self promotion – and are thus able to better achieve our goal of growing our business and helping even more people.
So what’s behind the “promotion shy” stance so many take? Often it’s discomfort and fear. Concerns range from thinking we’re not polished enough to present on social media and being afraid of someone accusing us of bragging about our skills, all the way to feeling like a full-blown imposter.
Zoetica Media founder Kami Huyse knows the feeling. Early in her career she held back, until she learned there’s a way to show up and stand out without suffering through all of the old apprehension she’d felt.
Personal vs. Transactional
What worked for her was approaching people from a human perspective rather than a transactional one. “Often we forget that we’re talking to people. We just do announcements, we do things that feel safe, and we miss a big opportunity,” she says.
A willingness to be vulnerable is also important. “Part of what I think actually works on social media is exposing who you are as a person,” she notes. And that means risking rejection too.
“Early in my career as a social media manager/strategist… I was afraid of my peers. I was afraid of what my peers would say about me, what would they think about me, what they would do,” she admits. “Even though I was willing to go out and write a lot of blog posts and stuff, it scared me. And sometimes I’d hide for months and months at a time [with regard to] my personal branding, my personal posting.”
Even the concept of personal branding wasn’t something she was initially comfortable with. “When personal branding became a thing, I really fought against it… and I would say, famously, ‘hey, you know I love to be known for my work, I don't need to be known for who I am’.”
Eventually she gained enough confidence to fight through her apprehension. “It took me some time to overcome that. Part of it was just going out there and understanding that I'm going to attract some people and I'm going to repel some people, and that is okay.”
Fighting the Imposter
In addition to strengthening our general confidence is also learning to fight the dreaded imposter syndrome. Kami knows how it can keep someone from speaking up because they’re constantly comparing themselves to others they’re convinced know more about a subject.
Feeling like you haven’t earned the right to talk about something because someone else is more advanced than you is short-sighted. In almost all areas we can point to someone who is “better” at or more knowledgeable, whether that’s public speaking, performing, graphic arts, or anything else. None of that means you should hold yourself back from sharing your expertise in a particular area.
“If I was to talk to you I probably would find out that you have some expertise in certain areas, and I say,’ hey you can talk about that’,” Kami explains. “[Often they’ll respond] ‘well everybody knows that.’… You think you don't have anything to give because you think everybody already knows what you know, and that is not the case, it's shockingly not the case. And so a lot of the things have a superpower in that area, and one of the things that I think is really.
Being Your Authentic Self Gives You an Expertise
Kami recommends the following approach to being authentic online, sharing ourselves, and overcoming any imposter feelings we may have:
- Show your struggles and your scars. When you present yourself honestly, people trust you more because they know you’re not pretending to be something you’re not. They know you understand what it means to work hard at something and keep chipping away until you succeed.
- Learn and teach. You won’t ever be an expert at everything. Nevertheless, there are many areas where you’ll know more than other people, and sharing what you’ve learned by teaching others enables you to provide value while remaining honest about your level of knowledge.
- Tell relatable stories. Rather than default to a boring and dry rendition of facts and information, think of stories as the beautiful (and human!) wrapping surrounding the gift of knowledge you present to your audience.
Kami shares her own evolution in becoming more comfortable with self-promotion. “I also have a little saying that ‘I make mistakes so you don't have to’. I've just gotten much more comfortable with making mistakes in front of other people, and that is really kind of endearing for most people because we all make mistakes, we all have difficult times, we all have struggles.”
“It is good sometimes to show… the struggles that you're going through, the weaknesses that you have, and then be open about changing those and show people how you do work through things.”
To learn more about Kami’s approach to overcome your fear of self-promotion, watch the replay of her full livestream here.