• Advice

Why your fear of self-promotion is holding you back

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

I have two questions for you, both based on the following, hypothetical situations:

Suppose I told you that in my spare time, I had developed a solution to one of your biggest life problems – the kind of problem that literally keeps you up at night.

I don’t know … maybe I discovered a way to help you lose weight and stay in shape effortlessly.

… maybe I can show you how to save so much money that you can quit that job you hate and do what you really want.

… maybe I have a parenting approach that will get your teenage kids to stop ignoring you and start doing what you ask. (Don’t call me; I said “hypothetical.”)

You get the idea – a seriously big life problem that you desperately want to solve.

OK, now here are my two questions, both very simple:

1. If I had such a solution to your desperate problem, would you want me to tell you about it?

2. If you and I were friends, and you found out years later that I had neglected to tell you about it, would you be mad at me?

Now I can’t see you from way over here, but I’m willing to bet that you answered both questions with a resounding, “YES!” (Or “Booyah!,” for those of you still living in the early ‘90s.)

And why not? Who wouldn’t want a solution to the problems that get in the way of their living a happy, healthy, productive life?

Nobody, that’s who.

Why then, are my fellow solo professionals so hesitant to share their knowledge and promote their products and services?

Let me explain…

At least once a week, whether I’m delivering a webinar, working one-on-one with a client, or just responding to e-mail, I hear some variation of the following statement:

“I don’t want to send my newsletter / publish my blog / promote my product / talk about what I do, too loud or too often. I don’t want to be pushy.”

Maybe you’ve thought or said the same kind of thing.

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Here’s the thing. The people who make these statements are invariably nice, considerate people. If they weren’t, the concept of being “too pushy” wouldn’t even occur to them.

But it’s a problem – for both the person saying it and the people who could benefit from their services and perspective.

Remember, when you’re offering real solutions to real problems – the kinds of things that you answered “yes” to 20 seconds ago – you’re not taking advantage of people, you’re making their lives better.

But you need to believe it.

You need to stop thinking that sharing your point of view is imposing on people. It’s not; you’re helping them by giving them your knowledge and perspective.

You need to stop thinking that the people who hire you or buy from you are doing you a favor. They’re not; your stuff is good and valuable and they need you and what you have to offer at least as much as you need them.

And most of all, you need to accept the fact that your business focus and the things you sell are your gift.

If you don’t share it, you’re depriving people of the solutions they need to the problems they have. And when they find out you’ve been keeping it a secret, they’re going to be (understandably) upset.

Here’s the bottom line. Somewhere along the line, many of us have mistakenly come to believe that “marketing” is tricking people and “selling” is taking advantage of them.

It’s time for a new perspective about the work you do.

If you found a cure for a deadly disease, you wouldn’t hide it in your basement. You’d be out there telling the world, day and night, until everyone who could benefit knew about it.

Not only would people be happy to pay for it, they’d be angry if you didn’t give them the chance.

Your work is just as valuable. Not to everyone, but to certain people in certain situations. Your job as a capable solo professional is to find them and help them.

In a word, Booyah!

Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development, Inc. He specializes in working with solo professionals and, in particular, teaching them how to define and communicate who they are and what they do. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here.

Michael Katz Michael Katz is Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing email newsletters for professional service firms. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette.

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