Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
One of the most challenging things about running a business that’s just you and your creations is talking yourself up – also known as “selling yourself”. (Which sounds dodgy and undesirable. So let’s call it self-promotion instead.)
Over the last couple of months, I’ve had several conversations with people who are pretty uncomfortable with putting themselves out there for PR, about pages, acknowledgements, and even awards.
Now, I’m not saying you have to do anything. I’m not saying you have to move drastically out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of successful business that quietly go about their business, creating awesome stuff and selling it. They don’t have awards or trophies. They do just fine.
There are benefits to being able to talk confidently about yourself. Putting yourself out there can be good for your business. The trick – and the challenge – is to do it with authenticity.
Being authentic in what you say about yourself not only gives people a realistic impression, it is also absolutely vital for your own sense of self. Go out there and say something you don’t really mean, and you’ll get the heeby-jeebies afterwards. You’ll feel like you did yourself a disservice, that you let yourself down, that you can’t ever see those people again because what you told them wasn’t true and they’ll think you’re a fraud.
And guess what? Self-promotion won’t seem like something you want to do at all.
On the other hand, if you talk about yourself with confidence, courage and compassion, you’ll very likely have a totally different experience. We all know when we’ve read something authentic, that’s from the heart and honest. Not honest in that too-honest, nervous breakdown way, but really thoughtful and considered. You can do that, too.
I promise, when you’re really in touch with your own authenticity, your audience (whoever they may be) will connect with you more.
That’s not to say everyone will love you and you’ll suddenly win 10,000 awards. But you’ll have put something good out there into the world. The people who like you, the ones who comment or buy from you or give you the press feature – they’ll be doing it because they really mean it.
And I believe anyone who sticks their head up over the parapet with something honest and authentic to say is worthy of all the awards. In fact, I think anyone running their own business deserves a big old trophy on their wall. You’re awesome. FACT.
So here’s the thing:
Write yourself up. Not because there’s one specific award you want to enter or PR feature you want to win. Write yourself up because it’s good practice for when you do want those things. And it’s great to have stuff on file that you can refer to.
Some tips for finding good and authentic stuff to say about yourself:
- Find three things you’re really good at or proud of. Maybe no-one else has done them before, or you really beat the odds to do something. Maybe you’re always the first to see the silver lining. Or your business is completely eco-friendly. Or you’ve built a business with no external investment. Or you’ve built a business and a family all in the space of 5 years. Or you’ve designed incredible bestsellers in between hospital visits (for whatever reason) – it’s not a sob story, it’s your truth.
- Uncover the story. Whether it’s an award or a journalist, they want a story. They want to know the beginning, middle and end of your success. How did you start out? What were the obstacles? How did you overcome them? What’s the next bit? Where will it take you? And you don’t have to try to seem perfect. If it was bloody hard and took you 25 goes, that shows that you’re resilient and hardcore, which might just be what they’re looking for.
- Think of yourself as a friend you love and respect. Or a daughter or younger relative you adore. What would you say about yourself through those eyes? Maybe you suddenly see the quiet but passionate light in your eyes. Perhaps it’s suddenly clear how amazing it is that you’ve made 10,000 customers happy. It’s all true.
This is an exercise is self-belief. No two ways about it. And the dark, sinister voices in your head (let’s call them Fear and Vulnerability) don’t want you to believe it for a second – too risky. Well, F and V, you can F right off!
There is business sense in believing in yourself. There’s a whole load of other stuff too, but I have a feeling if I tell you it’s for the good of your business, it might seem a bit more essential…
Just do ten minutes this weekend. I dare you.
What’s your best foot? Do you have tips on presenting yourself? I’d love to hear!