Social media lets everyone become their own publicist. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have removed all the barriers to self promotion – now we’re free to tell everyone how great we are 24/7.
We’ve all slipped into a constant sales mode, selling our abilities, our product, our services. Think about how many self-acclaimed ‘social media experts’ you’ve come across recently. Their main differentiating factor? The ability to shout the loudest.
To break through the constant barrage of self promotion we need to start to think differently about our ‘personal brand’. We need to think more about how we can add value and less about ourselves.
We don’t have to stop promoting ourselves, we just have to change the way we do it.
Is there someone at your office who constantly talks about how great he is? Someone who always takes the credit for success, but is nowhere to be found in hard times. Hardly the best team player and not a figure to emulate.
Instead, we need to start thinking about self promotion in a slightly less transactional way. There is no harm in helping your colleagues understand where your main strengths lie, just make sure you don’t over do it.
Prove your skills and show everyone what you can do before christening yourself as an expert – that way you can back up your argument with facts not hyperbole.
It’s ultimately a delicate balance. It’s important that your managers and colleagues value your skills and see where you can contribute the most to your company, but remember that it’s never ‘all about you’.
Psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic breaks down our culture of self assurance and self promotion in his new book Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem and Self Doubt.
He cites a survey of US college students in which the proportion describing themselves as ‘an important person’ jumped from 12% in the 1950′s to 80% in the 1980′s.
Chamorro-Permuzic sees this trend as highly damaging. He believes that it’s actually low self esteem and a desire to be better that pushes us to achieve great things. Covering up our failings with bluster, and lauding our abilities to colleagues and Twitter followers does little to help.
First and foremost, we need to focus on working hard and getting better at our jobs. Social media is a great amplifier, no one is denying that. It can only amplify the value in the work you do though, it can’t create additional value – make sure you don’t give it too much attention.
In today’s ‘instant gratificiation’ culture speed is valued at a premium. We all want more praise, more customers, more Twitter followers, and we want them now.
Social media has become the weapon of choice for a generation of ‘thought leaders’ who want to advertise their products and services and see instant results.
I won’t deny that this tactic can work, but you should think carefully about whether it’s for you. Do you want to be another voice amongst the many? Or do you want to focus on creating great relationships with your customers and providing as much value as you can?
Maybe it’s old fashioned to think about a personal brand like this, but it could be the answer.
Let’s take Twitter as an example. Do you think people will be more responsive to a tweet blast about your services or a glowing client review?
Maybe taking a slightly more indirect approach to building a personal brand will help you come out ahead.
About the author:
Ben Slater is VP Growth at Beamery, Beautiful Recruiting Software Powered by Machine Intelligence.
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