Ep. 87 How to self-promote

how to self promote

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how to self-promote: creating and sharing content that will demonstrate how good you are – without being arrogant or sleazy.

Unfortunately, putting your head down and doing a good job isn’t necessarily enough to get you noticed. I think we’ve grown up in a society where we’re told to be humble, we shouldn’t blow our own trumpet, and it’s frowned upon if you stick your head above everyone else. So you need to find a way to promote yourself – without feeling like you’re being too arrogant or braggy.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

Get private mentoring for your business– Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator– This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5



How to self-promote


Hello, hello there, and welcome back. Now, last week we were talking about building a brand platform and specifically on LinkedIn, beginning to build a presence while you’re still in a job. And when we start to talk about building a presence, and promoting yourself, and having a personal brand, that can get a little bit uncomfortable with people when you’ve been in a full-time job.

And even in fact, if you’ve been working for yourself for some time.

It can feel a bit icky, as I like to say. So it can feel a bit sleazy and overly self-promotional, because after all, you just want to do a good job, don’t you? You just want to make a difference. You want to have an impact, and your results should really speak for themselves, and you don’t want to have to put yourself out there, and you hate it when other people do, and you think that’s not you at all.

Which, I completely get, believe me, but unfortunately, putting your head down and doing a good job isn’t necessarily enough to get you noticed.

Unfortunately, I think we’ve grown up in a society where we’re told to be humble. We shouldn’t blow our own trumpet. It’s frowned upon if you stick your head above everyone else. Certainly that’s the experience I had here in England. And my parents are from Sweden and in Sweden, it’s very much equality, nobody should be better or worse in many different aspects. So that’s really tricky.

I remember a story from when I was in primary school, I guess I was in the final year. So form six as it’s called here. And I was 10 years old and I was running for form captain or whatever it was. And I just remember getting to the final round, and there were two of us and somebody asked me a question. This was very formal, I think for 10-year-olds, but fine. It’s good to practise. I had somebody in the class raising their hand and asking the question. “So do you think you are the right candidate for this job?”

Again, pretty advanced for a 10-year-old. This is at least how I remember it.

And I just remember, and I can almost feel my cheeks burning now again, I remember answering really hesitatingly, “Oh yeah, I guess so. Oh, I’m not sure. I don’t know. Yeah. Maybe.” Something very wishy-washy, non-committal and not at all the confidence and determination you want from a leader. And guess what? Surprise, surprise the other guy, I don’t even know what he said exactly, but certainly it would have been better than what I said. And if not unanimously, I think it was one person only voted for me, which was very kind of him, but the rest of the class voted for the other candidate. So that was quite traumatic.

To be honest, I was slightly better then when I went to my senior school and I then ran again, fool that I was, for another house captain kind of thing at school. And I remember it wasn’t quite that different, but I was still so shy and so hesitant. And the other guy who was running for the role that I was going for, vice-president or whatever it was, or president in fact, was hands up on my side, was just so clear and confident and great.

So, I always have mixed feelings of both annoyance and envy at these people who can, so confidently, just tell this beautiful story.

I think he had this metaphor and it was just so effective. And I thought, “Oh wow, I should have done that.” So it’s an interesting one because I think when you envy somebody else, usually there’s a reason for that, right? Usually it’s because you wish you were a bit more like that.

But anyway, maybe these stories are familiar to you, maybe not, but certainly that was me. I’ve always grown up thinking that if I did well at school, I shouldn’t make a big deal out of that. And in fact, if anything, I’ve had to downplay it because I had people saying, “Oh, you’re so geeky,” and whatever other words is used for people who are working too hard. So I worked less and less, et cetera. Again, that’s a story for another time, but certainly a lot of us have grown up with this idea that we shouldn’t be promoting ourselves. And I think we have that feeling.

Now, when I first started my business, obviously that was really difficult to get to grips with, too, because you have to put yourself out there.

And I remember hitting publish on my very first blog post. It was terrifying. The good news is of course, nobody will ever see that first post, or at least very few people apart from your mum and your sister and a few friends. So over time, I was sharing a lot of content, blogs, a few not very good videos, lots of social media posts. And that is a really important part of promotion. You need to educate, inspire.

I’m a writer, that’s my zone of genius as they call it. And so I felt comfortable with that. So that’s a great way to show that you know what you’re talking about. I engage with people.

They could relate and resonate and so on.

However, if that is all you do, if all you do is just write, “Hey, these are my thoughts on career development. And this is my experience,” and so on, you’re unlikely to have a successful business.

In fact, I wrote an article, and I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, I wrote it initially six months after I quit my job in 2013, then I think again, I updated a few months later, and it got picked up by Arianna Huffington and by Business Insider and Inc. and all sorts of platforms.

This is my ultimate media exposure that I had back in the day.

And I had so many people come to me who had resonated with and and thought it was amazing, but they were coming to me more as somebody who’d quit their job, not as an expert who could guide them. I did have a lot of consultation calls at the time, but it was so early in my business that I hadn’t quite crafted the sales pitch. I hadn’t quite got the funnel going. And so I’m pretty sure out of all those hundreds of people who came to me, none or very few actually signed up to work with me.

So it’s all very well to share your experiences and to educate and so on, with great content. But that doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to sell and make money.

And it was only when I got much more explicit, “This is my experience. This is what I am. This is what I do. And this is my title. These are the results I can help you get. Here are some testimonials from clients. Here are the results they’ve got. Here’s how I can help you.” That’s when I started getting traction with more consistent sales. And it takes some getting used to, and I get that. Again, as you can hear from me, it hasn’t exactly come naturally to me either.

I want to coach, I want to help people. And i want to give people advice, but the best way in which you can help people is for them to work with you. I do so much, and people are constantly telling me, “You do so much for free. You do these workshops, you’ve got the podcasts, you’ve got all these things and there is so much content for free,” but come on, listening to a podcast, and I do the same, you know, being in a Facebook group, that is not the same as working with a coach. That’s not the same as joining a programme, investing in yourself, showing up and having the accountability and the guidance and really the process, the step-by-step and so on. Right?

So whatever it is you do, the best way in which you can help somebody is for them to actually pay you and to work with you.

And the only way for that to happen is for you to put yourself out there, to promote yourself. That doesn’t mean that you have to be sleazy and braggy and arrogant, but you do need to own it. You need to, contrary to the 10-year-old Anna, you need to believe that you are the right person, that you can do these incredible things that you’re saying, because if you don’t believe it, why on earth should anyone else believe?

And the biggest mindset shift really is this idea of selling as serving. It’s allowing you to run your business. It’s allowing you to make the impact you want to make. And that’s really critical. And I do have an episode, I think it’s Episode 11, which is more around this idea of getting comfortable with selling yourself. So if this is something that’s resonating and it’s something you’re struggling with a little bit, do you go back and listen to Episode 11, Getting Comfortable With Selling Yourself.

So just concretely, what does that mean?

Well, by all means number one, share content that demonstrates your philosophy. “This is my experience. These are the big themes.” And so on. That’s a really great place to start and it’s the best way to bring people into your ecosystem. “These are the big things for me. Re-imagining success and balancing your life across the five Ls, leaving the corporate nine to five. Work-life integration,” and so on, right? So the big picture, “This is what I believe. I believe that it’s possible to have freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment working for yourself,” and so on.

But you can’t stop there. You also want to be then of course, engaging people in your content. You want to be asking, answering questions. And you want to be teaching and educating, “Hey, these are the five pillars of a sustainable escape plan and business. This is how you build your personal brand. This is how to choose the right business model,” and so on. And then finally, and this is the key, you need to actually say, “Hey, this is what I do. This is how you can work with me. Here are the results you can expect.”

Now, one of the great ways of promoting yourself without feeling all arrogant and icky is to use testimonials.

So let other people say how amazing you are. It can feel a bit uncomfortable, even that. And it’s strange to share those testimonials, but literally just screenshot it, post on LinkedIn, let someone say, “Oh, this is felt amazing. I’m really proud of Joanna for making this incredible progress,” or, “Oh, I’m so happy to hear when a client loves the work we’ve done. Really enjoyed this project.” You’re just sharing a genuine feeling around how much you love your work. And then the audience can judge for themselves. They can read, “Oh, wow. Well, this person really enjoyed working with Anna. So maybe I’ll have a chat with her and see if we could be a good fit too.”

So don’t stop at just sharing the nice content, assuming that people will read between the lines and know that you do what you do.

And you’d be surprised how many people have no idea what’s going on. At the beginning especially, I always thought, “My goodness, I’ve been talking about this workshop, this training, this programme ad nauseum.” And yet still when I mentioned it to somebody, they’d say, “What? What’s that? I didn’t know you were launching that. I didn’t know you’d written a book,” or whatever it was. And so people need to hear things, I think sometimes they say seven times, 16 times. There is so much noise now, and you have to break through that. And maybe someone’s sitting on the bus or the toilet and they see your post, and they forget all about it. They go, “Oh yeah. That sounds really interesting.” And then they go back to their day-to-day. So they need to hear it, you need to hit them on the head with it.

Again, remember, this is the way you’re going to help them.

You need to remind them, you need to make it super explicit and easy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just posted and said, “Hey, book a call if you’d like to consider coaching.” Months ago I had someone who I’d known for some time who said, “Oh, hey, I didn’t know you were coaching.

I think we’ve got really good chemistry.

I’d love to talk to you about possibly working with you.” And if I hadn’t even posted, “Hey, by the way, I’m a coach, you can work with me like this,” then he wouldn’t have got in touch. So just putting out there, “Hey, by the way, this is my brand design package. This is my copywriting for websites package. Hey, not sure how to move forward with this, that and the other? Get in touch and book a call.” And again, “Here’s an example of a project I’ve done.”

So really concretely telling the story of, this is the kind of work, sharing examples, demonstrating the kind of ways in which people can work with you.

And always having a really clear call to action. And again, as I said, I don’t know about you, but I often have these mixed feelings of both being annoyed at people and envious when I see someone… There are lots of other coaches, I would say often men, but not necessarily because there are women who do the same, who have such exuberant confidence, bordering on arrogance. Showing up charging outrageous prices. They stand there, head held high, shoulders back, claiming, “I can change your life. I can get you eight figures in your business, have one conversation with me and I’ll shift your mindset forever.”
And that works, obviously, with some people and with some people, it doesn’t, and that’s okay.

And we all need to find our own tone and our own positioning. But again, when you have those mixed feelings, and I can hold my hand up here and be honest too, if I notice that I feel a twinge of envy of some people who are just that little bit more confident and strong in their, “Look, I can help you with this.

Let me help you,” that’s really admirable, I think.

And that is something that we should strive for. Because ultimately again, remember that’s the best way we can help people, especially in terms of coaching, for example. If I’m hesitating, “Oh, I’m not sure. Yeah, you could maybe leave your job and start a business. But oh, would you be able to get the… Oh, I’m not sure.” You know, if I don’t believe in you, then why on Earth would you want to work with me, right?

And I do believe in you because I do believe it’s possible.

I know it’s possible. I’ve seen it in myself. I’ve seen it in clients again and again and again. So we just have to remind ourselves, “Look, I know this works, I have done it myself. I’ve seen other people do it. I can help people do this.” And just remind ourselves. And again, we can read our own testimonials too, right? We can have a little jar of all the positive things people have said to us. It’s not just for other people. And by the way, if this idea of comparing yourself to other people resonates as well, Episode 66 I did on overcoming comparanoia. Comparanoia is excessively comparing ourselves to other people and that’s really important, too.

So I’d love to hear from you.

What is it that you struggle with when it comes to self-promotion? Do you feel like it feels really sleazy? Are you not sure where to start? Maybe you’re just starting out so you don’t yet have lots of testimonials? And get in touch. You can get me on any social media if you’re following me there, or you can email at podcast@onestepoutside.com, podcast@onestepoutside.com, and we can have a chat about how to get you feeling more comfortable.

This is so key. You have an incredible gift. You’ve got this incredible thing you want to help people with. And again, the only way you can help people do that is by getting your name out there, telling people what you do, how you can help them and ultimately having them buy from you. So if that was a message that you needed to hear, maybe have another lesson, take some notes as to what you can do differently now, maybe challenge yourself to put something out there that’s a bit more promotional, share a testimonial, just do something a little bit outside your comfort zone. And again, get in touch if you’d like my help with doing that as well. Best of luck. And I’ll see you back here next week. Bye for now.

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If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business– Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5– After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator– This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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