Talking Myself Up

It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! Right now I’m hard at work, getting ready for the second run of the Crafting my Life course. Early bird registration is open now, so if you want to live with greater intention, sign up. I’d love to have you along for the journey.

Did you read that spiel I just gave? I give it every week when I run my Crafting my Life post. This series, which is about re-inventing myself, is my big chance to plug whatever it is that I’m up to. And so, I do just that. But you know what? I don’t enjoy it. In fact, it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable, even though I understand the importance of self-promotion as a life skill. Every time I write that blurb, or talk about the Crafting my Life class on Facebook or Twitter, I cringe a little.

Self-promotion is hard for a lot of us. Many of us were taught not to talk about ourselves too much. Or maybe we learned to keep silent the hard way, when we did speak up and met with some seriously negative reactions. No matter how long ago that was, and no matter how much you’ve grown and learned since then, it can be hard to let go of those deeply-ingrained messages from your past. And so you’ll spend all day and night talking about this cool thing your friend is doing, without ever breathing a word about yourself.

Negative associations with self-promotion don’t only stem from our own past experiences, though. Another big part of the equation is watching other people promote themselves badly. I’m sure we’ve all had at least one negative interaction with someone who was trying to sell us something. Instead of really listening to us and taking the time to understand what we wanted, they ran roughshod over us in an effort to close the deal. Or maybe we’ve had friends who constantly pressured us to hold sales parties, or relatives who were always launching their next sure-fire business.

In the blogging and social media world, there are a lot of contests that involve asking people for votes. These online popularity contests are usually won by the person who is able to convince the most people to show up and vote for them the most times. In fact, I’m in one of these contests myself right now. I was nominated as one of the Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms at Circle of Moms, and you could vote for me once a day if you were so inclined. But I’ve never won one of these, likely because after sending out a couple of tweets I start to feel a little bit uncomfortable. How many times can I stump for votes before it becomes too much, and crosses from acceptable self-promotion into just plain irritating?

Many people in my life frequently ask me for updates on what I’m doing. I have to remind myself that other people are interested in what I’m up to, just as I’m interested in what they’re up to. I also have to remind myself that not everyone is in the know just because I sent one Facebook status update about my latest project. I think maybe this is where the balance lies. When we’re telling other people what we’re up to, and sharing from a genuine place, then the people who actually care about us will want to hear about it. When we’re bragging about past accomplishments, talking others down, or trying to coerce action, it’s not so cool.

So I will continue to let you know what’s up in my life, even if it makes my palms a little sweaty when I do it. If you’re not interested, that’s OK. I’ll still love you, and I’ll understand, because my Thing is not necessarily going to be your Thing. But because it is my Thing, and I care about it, it’s important for me to talk about it, even if it isn’t always easy. I’ll do my best to keep it genuine and real and interesting, and I hope you’ll cut me some slack if I repeat myself from time to time.

What do you think? Where does the line between appropriate self-promotion and just plain annoying lie for you? Do you struggle with talking about what you’re up to, for fear of negative reactions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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  1. Part of it for me comes from years of being so shy in person, but I’m always afraid my ideas are going to be laughed at and any self-promotion I do will get nothing but eyerolls. I run another site based mostly off reader contributed parenting stories, so promotion is a necessity to get the word out. I dislike doing it. I don’t even like feeling like I could be annoying anyone. But sometimes it’s the nature of the game.
    C @ Kid Things’s last post … Multiple ChoiceMy Profile

  2. nice girls don’t talk about themselves, is also always at the back of my mind. it’s an absolute killer.
    i feel fine running the promotional blog for the local artist coop, i can write a fairly decent shout out for my own blog as long as it’s about someone else, but can i write or promote my own thing? no. my business blog is seriously neglected, which is stooopid cos the sales from it are fueling my dreams and i need the income.

    pomomama’s last post … wordless wednesday- home is where the heart isMy Profile

  3. Self promotion IS hard. I grew up around people and family who didn’t like a “show off” or someone who “bragged” about themselves or their accomplishments. This has made it hard for me to come right out and say “I’m good at this” or “I’m great at this and listen to me, take my advice” or “I’m going to take this risk.” Right now I have a student working with me and I am teaching her things and giving advice and that’s a little easier. I get some practice talking about myself for job interviews as well. But to actually promote myself to a large group of people? That would be very difficult for me.

  4. I have the same problem; mine tends to materialize around the comments section in other people’s blogs. And admitting the content of my resume. My resume embarrasses me. This statement, for example – severely uncomfortable, and I have even couched it in mystery. And I’m tempted to delete it. So, yes. I would say, yes.

  5. Hi Amber,

    I certainly do understand your reluctance to self-promote. Regrettably, it is a necessary aspect of gaining traction in social media — at least that’s what I tell myself before I click send. In truth, I don’t think that I will ever get used to it. In the offline world, as when I’m working, it’s simply not necessary. My colleagues can observe what I do and if I do it well, but the online world is completely different. How can my blog gain a following if I don’t tell people that it is there? It can’t. Sure, word of mouth or recommendations help, but unless the people doing the recommending have large followings, progress will be slow.

    I expect others to promote themselves, and I don’t even mind it as long as it’s not the only thing that they do. So I retweet my posts occasionally, but I prefer to continually engage new people instead of making repeated overtures to those I already know. This probably isn’t the best plan, but it’s one that I’m comfortable with.


  6. I could really relate to this post Amber! Have a beautiful day!
    Wendy Irene’s last post … The SecretMy Profile

  7. Jennifer Villamere says:

    I can totally relate! I have no problem promoting brands I work with, but when it comes to promoting myself personally or my personal projects, I suddenly feel icky-icksville.

    Glad I’m not the only one.
    Jennifer Villamere’s last post … Hump day studsMy Profile

  8. I can relate. I am self employed too, and basically growing up taught to be seen and not heard, and that pride was bad, etc, etc. But being overly modest has kept my business “petite” for sure. I did have to force myself out regularly at the beginning… it got easier as my clients assured me that my skills were worthy. Now I don’t have to do much (which is good because I never liked self-promotions). Not all bad. My reputation for quality work at honest billing gets me referrals in the kindest way, by a happy client.

    My palms sweat just thinking about cold-calls and business pitch meetings!

  9. Well said. I’m pretty confident that no one is ever going to accuse you of being a shameless self-promoter. 🙂 At this point in my life, I’m just trying to strike a balance between self-deprecating humour (good) and runaway self-flagellation (bad). Also, the sales pitch anecdote reminded me of my one of my favourite experiences, when the National Post called and I said sorry, we already get the Ottawa Citizen and I can’t read two papers a day and she enthusiastically said WELL, we certainly don’t expect you to READ it. Um…?
    allison’s last post … In which I state the blindingly obvious- with GREAT EMPHASISMy Profile

  10. I like hearing about what you’re up to. I stop reading blogs that become *only* about what someone is now selling – but you mix it in with your other stories, plus what you’re promoting is so in line with your blog content in the first place. 🙂
    Lady M’s last post … Kindergarten Egg DropMy Profile

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  1. […] know that using your voice can be pretty scary. It’s scary for me, too. I’m always afraid that my Thing is somehow not good enough, that other people don’t […]

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