People talk about ‘shameless self-promotion’, which gives the idea that we should be ashamed to promote ourselves and what we do.
But if you are your business- which you are if you offer a personalized service, such as teaching or coaching- then surely you need to be promoting yourself? Or how will anyone know what it is that you do, and how it could benefit them?
Promoting your business isn’t the same thing as bragging, boasting or showing off.
Showing off is very much style over substance. It’s all about appearing good in some way, and very often the reality is very different. We all instinctively feel the falsity behind it, and this is a big reason why it feels ‘icky’ or cringy.
It’s also very often a defence mechanism to cover up a big yawning hole of insecurity.
There is nothing wrong with being aware of our achievements and willing to celebrate them. In fact, it’s a key part of healthy self-esteem.
Equally, letting people know about your genuine successes, as part of marketing your business, is a completely different thing to boasting. You have something to offer that can make people’s lives easier or better, so how is it of benefit to them if you remain hidden, and no-one knows how you can help?
You never know if and when someone needs to hear about what you do, so give them that chance.
Fear of judgement
The other root cause of feeling uncomfortable about promoting ourselves is fear of what other people will think, of being judged. My experience is that the vast majority of people are happy for you and/or inspired by success. But inevitably some people WILL judge you negatively. That’s human nature, and their prerogative. It may be that what you are doing triggers their insecurities, or that they’ve been brought up to believe that what you’re doing is immodest or ignoble. Fair enough, that’s up to them. We can’t control what other people think.
But are you going to let a small number of other people’s issues hold you back in developing your business or getting what you do out into the world? Does that really make sense?
Finally, it doesn’t all have to be ‘shameless’ self-promotion. Make a point of celebrating what other people do as well, and when you spot your own judgements arising, question them. Remember what Marianne Williamson said:
‘As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.’
If you’re an ELT freelancer/business owner you may feel a bit overwhelmed by all the business advice out there…
Should you start a podcast or a YouTube channel, a mailing list, a membership? Is it a good idea to keep things as simple as possible, or should you be looking to diversify? What does scaling even mean, anyway?!
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