Most small business professionals are eager to make a sale. Or are they?
We've all met the overbearing types, and, thanks to them, some consider "sell" to be an offensive four-letter word. They don't want to admit they actually sell something; in fact, they consider the term "shameless self-promotion" redundant! Still others struggle with how to excel at self-marketing and survive in sales without being too pushy or too passive.
But you need to promote yourself in order to survive and thrive, don't you? It's not productive to feel guilty about what you do, so why not seek out places where self-promotion is encouraged, expected, and structured? Look for places where, for a minute, you can stand out without feeling shame over being an avid self-promoter.
More and more events are structured to allow you multiple opportunities to deliver your commercial. Sometimes an extra minute of "shameless self-promotion" is awarded as a prize. Other associations give you an extra minute in exchange for throwing a buck in a passed hat. Everyone has agreed to play the same game, so, again, you don't have to feel guilty, hold back, or worry about being pushy.
Now, what about the times you are overbearing? Let's call that "shameful self-promotion." To most of us, that is offensive, so maybe you should feel a little guilty. But don't stay guilty--fix it! Here are seven tips on how to do just that:
1. Prepare ahead. Think about the most important information to share with each group.
2. Stay within the allotted timeframe when you make your pitch. Let the group know what you're about without hogging the floor.
3. Make it interesting and make it quick. We all want a turn. The extra time doesn't serve you. If you turn us off, we tune you out.
4. Know when to quit. Watch for body language that says, "You're done."
5. Be careful during unstructured networking. Show interest in others; invite dialogue (rather than dueling monologues).
6. Learn how to attract--not repel. No one likes to feel stalked and cornered. If you act like a predator, you'll train us to run when we see you coming!
7. Follow-up. An e-mail is as good as a hand-written note, if it's done well. It leaves me cold when the e-mail fails to address me personally in the text or when it's signed by "the group" rather than a real person. (I want to be singled out as remarkable.) And the note backfires when it's obviously meant primarily to promote the sender. Receiving that kind of note can be worse than not sending one. It makes me feel invisible. Now, that's shameful!
You never have to feel shame over self-promotion...if you do it well. Make others feel visible and valued, and you will be too.
(March 21, 2012)