In the words of Frank Ocean: “Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.”
Your parents have probably said something similar to you. Mine have certainly told me to not be boastful or prideful and to be humble. All of this is great advice, and I think it is something to heed. However, there are definitely times when you should promote yourself, particularly when it comes to your career.
Instead of droning on about all of the work you’re putting in, keep your mouth shut; but when that work is done and you’re super proud of it, shout it from the rooftops. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the best ways to showcase your skills and talents so you can build your career and network.
In a recent blog post, Create & Cultivate wrote, “The truth is, you need to be boastful, confident and plug yourself constantly. Because if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. And in a sea of other bloggers / freelancers / creatives / career women / entrepreneurs, etc., standing out is critical to your success.”
If You’re Scared to Jump in the Pool, Dip Your Toes in First
Practice on the people you’re most comfortable with. For me, that’s my family and friends. In the first year of my career, I was only comfortable sending links to my parents and then posting the best ones to my Facebook page. I’ve never been one to add people I don’t know or just kind of know, so I wasn’t as intimidated by sharing my work on there. This helped me figure out what to say about my writing without any major backlash, and it also showed me what topics the people in my life liked reading about the most.
For example, Facebook has become the place I share personal essays, planner reviews, and organization-related articles. These are the topics my Facebook friends respond best to. Linkedin is where I share articles about career development (duh, right?) and scheduling advice. Instagram, on the other hand, is where I share pieces from my personal blog and anything related to health and fitness. Twitter is the place I want to be clear I’m a writer who appreciates good writing, so I share links to other works that I find inspiring and impressive.
Every social media platform has a purpose for you to twist to fit your own agenda. Use them appropriately.
Listen to Hilary Duff
Some people are going to have a problem with you tooting your own horn. Ignore them because other people are going to love it. I’m sure plenty of people become annoyed with the articles and essays I share, but I’ve also heard wonderful things from people who love it. Don’t waste time worrying about the haters—and like Hilary Duff said in A Cinderella Story, don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Do what you need to do in order to get the results you need.
Don’t Overthink Self-Promotion
Say what feels most like you. The last thing you want is to pretend to be someone you aren’t. Regardless of the advice you heard from your mom regarding this, faking it just takes up time. If you’re trying to adopt a persona that simply isn’t you, you’ll find yourself agonizing over what to say, how to say it, and whether or not to share something at all. You’ll drag your feet and likely won’t post as much as your need to, if you post at all.
So no matter how great you think it’ll be to seem like someone you aren’t, I promise you it won’t help you build your brand or business in the long run. My boss once told my team, “If it doesn’t come naturally, just ditch it.” Apply that to self-promotion and it’ll never feel forced or disingenuous.
Keep it Up Until it Feels Normal
It will take a while for it to stop feeling uncomfortable, so the only thing you can do is keep on truckin’. The more you promote yourself, the better you’ll be at it. Each share, tweet, and Insta post will teach you something about what people want to read and which captions sell you the best. Don’t be afraid to just try something. So what if it doesn’t work? At least you tried and learned it wasn’t the best approach.
But What Should You Share and Say?
As far as captions goes, that’s largely up to you. There’s really not one specific way to promote yourself, but it is important to make sure that what you say is concise, has personality, and gives the readers an idea of what you’ve done. You don’t want to brag or come off as self-absorbed, and you don’t want to be clickbaity.
The best method I’ve found is to only write a caption that would feel normal to send to my best friends. I don’t worry about being funny or clever. If something like that simply comes to me then that’s great, but I don’t worry if it doesn’t. This rule keeps me from becoming a) stressed out, and b) true to myself and my voice. Try it out for yourself to see if that rings true for you as well.
You don’t need to be afraid to ask people to read your essay, take your poll, vote for an award you want to win, or test out your business. Ask. Tweet. Instagram. Promote the hell out of your work, career, and self because no one else is going to (except your parents and #1 BFF). You don’t have anything to lose by it, but you have a whole bunch to gain.