Self-Promotion, Part II: Four Don’ts

How to NOT Shoot Yourself in the Foot!

Our work environment is so fast-paced and full of distractions, if we wait for our supervisor/our customer/our peers to notice we’re doing great work, we’re going to be waiting a long time.

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In my last post, I shared the first half of my recent presentation to Women@Hyatt, an event for women from the Hyatt hotels around Dallas-Fort Worth. In that post, I talked about the DOs for promoting yourself. Now I want to talk about the DON’Ts. If you’re not careful, a few bad habits can shoot holes in all the great ways you’re performing and promoting that performance. Be conscious of these four:

1. DON’T … Apologize or minimize your abilities. Attempts to come off as humble, when overdone, can come across as insincere – or worse – insecure. An example from Robin Meade, from Headline News’ Morning Express:

“Once I told a producer, ‘Go ahead and edit my story! I don’t know what I’m doing!’ She later used that against me when I asked for a raise. Self-deprecation can backfire!”

2. DON’T … be so sorry all the time. Have you ever made a mistake at work and it literally kept you up at night? The next day – even after you owned it the day before – you go to your boss and say, “I’ve been thinking about what happened, and I just wanted to emphasize how sorry I am and reinforce that it’ll never happen again.”

No one is going to give you brownie points for dwelling on it. And why are you reminding people you made a mistake?

A friend who owns an IT company has a great example of owning a mistake. His male techs are hard-pressed to acknowledge an error, but his female techs apologize so much, his customers start to wonder what else they might have done wrong.

Women are notorious for this. “I’m sorry to interrupt …” You’re being polite but you’re leading with a negative. “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” Why preface your question with an apology?

Approach it this way: If you mess up, say you’re sorry – once! Then fix it and move on.

3. DON’T … Let self-doubt own you. I was editing a document and it was time get it to the client, but this negative, nagging voice in my head was saying “I wish I had more time! I can do better!” I had to say to myself, “Get over yourself and hit send.”

The client said, “I thought your changes were excellent. It is really great to have someone to work with who understands us. I wrote things like ‘Yes’ and ‘Perfect!’ in the margin.”

Don’t let the negative nagger in your head own you! Own her! The way I owned my visibility (remember the last post?) in that example? I sent the client’s email to my supervisor, and she sent it to the senior partner.

4. DON’T … wait. Don’t wait for someone else to talk you up, throw your hat in the ring, or decide you’re awesome. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, right? So do it! I would love to see your examples of owning your visibility. Do you have an example as a business owner? As a concerned citizen? As a person who once had to stand up for his- or herself? Please share in the comments!

Four Steps to Self-Promotion, Part I

Because if You Want It Done Right, You’ve Gotta Do It Yourself!

Last summer, Women@Hyatt asked me to speak at an event for women from the Hyatt hotels around Dallas-Fort Worth. Women@Hyatt is the company’s business resource group connecting female colleagues around the globe.

Hyatt Talk

Here I am with one of the four groups I talked to during Women@Hyatt.

Full disclosure, I might’ve gotten the gig in part because my significant other works at one of those hotels; that said, I jumped at the opportunity. I was one of four local execs who presented four 15-minute talks to rotating groups of 12 or so. My topic was Promoting the Brand of YOU.  I’ve summarized the first half here, and will share the second half in an upcoming post. If you want immediate gratification, let me know in the comments or via jen@jemefpr.com, and I’ll send the whole shebang to you!

Our world of layoffs, frequent job changes and economic instability has made 30 years and a gold watch a quaint history lesson. You have to take control of your destiny. That means positioning yourself to meet your goals, and part of that is being confident and comfortable with spreading the word about your successes. You must promote the brand of you.

“The brand of you” is the great work you do. Your clients and/or your boss know the brand of you, but what about your prospective clients? What about your future boss? I’m not talking about blatant self-promotion. We’re talking about professional, sincere actions that spread the word that you are good at what you do.

Here are a few ways to promote the brand of you:

1. When someone asks for advice, an idea or for volunteers – whether it’s at a meeting or on LinkedIn – if you have experience, an idea or an interest, speak up! Get out there as a subject matter expert. (Presenting to Women@Hyatt is an example.)

2. Did you get a nice thank you from a customer? Ask the sender if you can turn it into a LinkedIn recommendation. Tell him you’ll even draft it for him. He’ll be delighted. I’ve never had anyone say no. All he has to do is check it over, and you’ve got a new recommendation for your profile.

If you have a website or a blog, ask if you can post it there, too. I was once hiring a lawyer and met two I felt good about. Both were fine, but one had 20 recommendations on her website. You might think, “Twenty? She must think she’s pretty special!” No. They were so warm and specific; I didn’t think it was obnoxious. I was sold. I asked her how she got so many, and she said, “I asked for them.” What a concept!

3. Transition your bio content from responsibilities to achievements that are quantifiable or can be qualified. You didn’t just manage five staffers. You hired two people, doubling the productivity of your department. Here are a couple sources on this topic:

How to Qualify and Quantify Your Way to Job Search Success
The Perfect Resume: Qualify & Quantify

4. Have your elevator speech ready for every situation.

My next post will be a handful of DON’Ts. I don’t want you to sabotage your visibility right out of the gate. Meanwhile, do you have examples of how you own your visibility? As a business owner? As a concerned citizen? As a person who once had to stand up for his- or herself? Please share in the comments!

Making Time for Being Still

How Did We Get to a State of Desperate Motion, and How Do We Stop?

 

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Copyright: Shutterstock, Inc.

A friend shared a post called, “The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week”. Sounds great, right? It explains how doctors, executives, trainers, clergy, yogis, EVERYONE agrees that rest is essential to your well-being.

I get it. I mother-hen sick friends, urging them to take a break and let their bodies fight the sickness. And I’m also a big sleep advocate – I feel my best if I get eight hours or more. So why is it so difficult to rest from work? If you sit down on Sunday afternoon, are you thinking about laundry, what to make for dinner during the week and your work to-do list? Maybe that’s too girly, so what about mowing the lawn, replacing the cracked doorframe and then work? Or can you let go?

Even while reading that post, I was racing ahead: “I don’t have time to read this long post! I need to get to the tips on how to rest!” This stopped me in my tracks:

You are not a victim of your time demands. You are the creator and acceptor of them.

That will make you think. I can’t remember the last weekend I didn’t at minimum check my email. Almost every day, one of my first waking thoughts is, “What do I need to be worrying about?” I KNOW I’m creating my time demands, and this makes me see how lame it is that I’m feeling sorry for myself because I can’t manage them. Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step, right?

Step one: My husband and I bought a patio set so we have a nice place to sit in the back yard with a cocktail, talk about our day and enjoy the evening. Before the patio set, he would come home and watch TV while I made dinner, and our conversation would get lost. So now we have that little slice of sitting still.

Step two: I hired someone to help with the business. I want to trade Sunday work for Sunday rest. I haven’t completely let go of weekend work yet, but I’m getting there.

What portion of your time demands do you want to trade, and how are you going to do it? Have you found rest? How did you get there? I don’t know if we can transition from the frenetic society we’ve created, but the benefits of rest are too great to ignore. Even talking about it helps, so please share!

Three Easy Ways to Praise Your Business

You Owe It To Your Company To Promote!

My friend Lynne Meredith Golodner, a prolific, thoughtful writer who also happens to be a terrific PR chick, wrote a post about praise, and how much easier it is to punish ourselves than to praise ourselves.

Image by Howard Lake

After Lynne’s post, I decided when I write in my work diary, I’m going to praise myself for something based on that day’s work. I usually spend most of my word allotment on the “One to grow on” section, when I decide how to do something better. I’m going to balance that out.

I was thinking about how often we as small business owners are the same way about our businesses – we are reluctant to praise our business success to ourselves, let alone share it with others. There are those business owners who are great at self-promotion. They’re confident and savvy, and share their talents and successes with a wide and public audience. They come by it naturally, or they hire talented public relations folks to tell their story.

That’s a mistake. You owe it to your business to promote! It needs to be part of your strategic growth. I know, not everyone can afford a PR person. And yes, you’re already working 60 hours a week, and this is just not a priority. Well, it needs to be. Promoting your business is an opportunity to tell your story exactly how you want it to be told, to share the most important pieces to the folks you’d like to have as customers.

So how do you do it? Let’s think about easy ways you can praise your company publicly.

  1. Next time you have a conversation with a regular customer, ask for a testimonial. Ask them to email to you or tell you why they like doing business with you. Have them approve it for all these places: Put it on your website. Add it to your brochure and newsletter. Post it on your Facebook page.
  1. Next time you land a new customer, write a paragraph and send it to the local business paper, your daily and weekly newspapers, and post it on your website. Put it in your newsletter. Yes, Facebook, too.
  1. Where are you a member? Ask your professional society chapter, newcomers club, chamber, small business group, women’s club (you get the idea) if you can come and do a presentation. Take your best business habits and capitalize:
  • Three ways to organize your office
  • Three ways to handle unhappy customers
  • Three ways to improve your website’s internet search.

Turn it into a blog post for your website. Put it in your newsletter. Facebook. Again.

Do you have other ways to praise your business? Tell me your tips! Do you struggle with this idea? Let’s talk about it.

How Your Customers Benefit from You Investing in You

Or, I Went To This Conference And All I Got Was a Bunch of Great Ideas For My Business

Have you ever gone to a conference, met some really interesting people, heard a bunch of motivational speakers, gone home, put the binder on a shelf and went back to head down at your desk?

This isn't the conference I went to. Mine was cooler. Photo courtesy of TSLAC

This isn’t my conference. Mine was cooler. Courtesy of TSLAC

Guilty. My only excuse is that it was very early in my career and I was too dumb to know any better.

In my last blog, I told you to make professional development a priority. I took my advice and attended a

conference of my peeps, the Solo PR Summit. It rocked. And I’m proud to say I’m enough of a grownup now that I’m putting the smarts I learned to work!

Here are six takeaways that any business owner can apply right now:

  1. Find out why.

Keep asking questions. I loved this example from Mary Barber’s presentation: A potential client said, “I need a brochure”. Well, why? She eventually got to the bottom of it: The client was tasked with marketing a new community program. She developed a great plan that gave them many more tools and successes than a brochure would have.

  1. Tell stories. If you’re already telling stories, tell them better.

People want to work with or buy from people like them. Be conversational and relatable to your customers and future customers. If it’s hard to relate, tell them about your customers who are like them.

  1. Manage your time.

You have an obligation to yourself to create an environment where your work-life balance is manageable for you, your partner, your kids, your dog, everyone.

  • Hire an assistant, whether real life or virtual, to do the stuff you hate. Whether it’s bookkeeping, data entry, research or something else, ditch it.
  • Learn to say no: To customers taking advantage of you, to partners you’re really not compatible with, to negative energy that stops you from moving forward.
  1. Make yourself accountable. If that’s too difficult, get a buddy to help you.

Find someone who will help you stay on your path. Have coffee with a mentor, a sit-down with your supervisor before your next evaluation, or a monthly check-in with a peer. I met Lorraine Schuchart at the conference and we made a pact to meet regularly to help each other work on our businesses. She is a terrific PR pro, and I can’t believe my luck that I connected with a peer who is teaching me so much.

  1. Share.

This kinda goes hand-in-hand with getting a buddy. If you’re embarrassed or concerned you’ll look bad to your peers, you’ll never meet the friends who are having the same problem; you’ll never get the feedback or reassurance you need to power through.

  1. Go to conferences!

In addition to smart speakers, you’ll meet lots of cool people who have different ideas than you, who are dealing with the same stuff as you and who are fabulous dinner companions. It’s highly likely you’ll come home fired up, recharged, thoughtful and ready to kick some bootay. So go do it!

Professional development: Are you doing it?

Make time to feed your brain

How often do you set aside work to work on you?

Last year I learned about this great group, Solo PR Professionals. Wow, what a resource for a solo PR chick like me – someone who can always learn more about delivering quality public relations for my clients, and has the additional challenge of being an entrepreneur.

We have a weekly Twitter Chat, a private Facebook group and tons of resources on the website. It’s great!

The group hosted an educational conference last year. Despite the fact that I make time for the weekly chat, and I always keep up with the Facebook group, I didn’t go. That was too much. The excuses were easy: “I’m too busy/It’s taking away from my clients/It’s not a good use of my time.”

We all struggle with work-life balance, don’t we? You weigh things 10 times a day: “If I do this, I can’t do that.”

I realized recently that I will talk myself out everything all day, every day, if I let me. My boss is brutal. I will stress about a project, and the client responds with nothing but praise. Despite this, I always feel I could be, I should be, doing more.

A couple weeks ago, I made time for a writing webinar. And it was GREAT. I got easy take-aways, it was thought-provoking and I started applying what I learned that next time I sat down to write. It made me so energized and happy!

And what do you know? The world didn’t come crashing down because I took an hour out of my workweek.

So Tuesday I’m off to this year’s Solo PR Summit. I can’t wait to meet all the folks from Twitter and Facebook in person, and sit with them for two days of sessions that I KNOW are going to help me take better care of my clients.

Why did it take a while for me to realize I need to feed my brain? I have no idea. The important thing is I’m finally doing it. Are you? What kind of activities inspire you and make you better at your job?

If you’re not investing this time, try. Don’t talk yourself out of professional development. You getting smarter helps your business, helps your clients and makes you happy. Win!

Photo by Colin Harris

No, I will not excuse your brevity because you’re sending from your mobile phone

Smartphone auto signatures are not smart

Do we really need all the conveniences modern technology offers us? That debate could be endless, and no one wants a million-word post. However, there are two things that pop up on our mobile phones that I wish we would do without:

  1. “Sent from my BlackBerry”
  2. “Please excuse my brevity/typos/errors. Sent from my iPhone.”
On The Phone

Please excuse my brevity, I’m a dog.

The first one is kind of a shout-out to, well, me, because I think I might be the only person left using a BlackBerry (note: Neither signature is on my ancient, creaky BlackBerry). That’s a whole other issue. Let’s keep to this topic, and start with No. 1. We’re kind of conditioned to this message at this point, and it’s a pain to change settings, etc. Well, I  call foul. If you search it in Google it’ll take one second to find the instructions to remove. And it’s really not that painful. Just delete it.

The second one apparently is a green light to have typos, spelling and grammatical errors in your replies, and implies, “I’m busy person and I’m in a hurry. This is all I can give you right now.” Why give the impression that the conversation isn’t important to you?

As I’ve said before, and even posted about, I am not without grammatical/spelling/typo sin. That said, I vote NO on these auto signatures. They hurt more than they help. When you upgrade your phone, have the service guy at the store take it off before you leave the store. Or look it up online. Get rid of these crutches and take the extra 30 seconds to run through the email and check for errors before you send. Everything you send says something about you, so why not say, “I’m focused on you”?

I was poking around the internets on this topic and found a post from THREE YEARS AGO on this topic, yet it’s still happening. I’m surprised. Are you using one of these messages? Do you think I’m being too nitpicky? Tell me!