How To Toot Your Own Horn, Without Being a Tool
I’ve already blogged about this before, but it seems to be a recurring theme in both men and women that I’m encountering, of my generation and younger. So I thought it was worth a blog post, because my good peeps, it is sometimes a fine line between self-promotion and toolness.
First off, always, always, always – offer to help other people who you admire. That creates more positive mojo around you, and less toolness. It will also get you learning how to promote yourself indirectly – by watching others who you admire do it. I told a friend of mine the other night, use a ratio of 2 or 3 to 1: that is, offer to help others twice to three times more than you personally ask for help. That way you keep your karma in the black, rather than red. Social capital in the red = tool time, big time. Also, when they return the favor, take them up on it, provide them what they need, in a timely fashion, and THANK THEM for their help. I can’t emphasize the gratefulness enough. Without their kindness, you wouldn’t be where you are today. We are each owed: nada in this life.
Secondly, follow up. Always. Don’t be like 95% of the people in this world who say they are going to do something, then don’t. Yeah, I get that people are busy, they have lives, stuff happens, blah blah blah – but at the end of the day, if you say you’re going to do something, then don’t do it? That. Is. A. Tool.
Underpromise. Overdeliver. That will keep you out of the toolbox too.
Third, Socrates said this best: “Know thyself.” I tell my students ad nauseum, he was a smart dude, and he was totally right on this one. If someone asks you what your strengths are and your only reply is “…uh…uhm…I don’t know…,” fix that. There are PLENTY of books and self-assessment tests out there to get you comfortable with knowing who you are, what you are passionate about, and what your authentic story is. If you can’t share it, or think you’re becoming arrogant by knowing yourself, you’re not even a tool–you’re ignorant, and that’s worse…
Last, don’t act like a tool via overkill. If you have a personal fan page on Facebook, for example, rather than just a personal page…you’d best have something that makes you stand out. In the writing world, that means NY Times best seller or Pulitzer Prize. If you’re a “writer” and not a NY Times best seller, or won a Pulitzer, you’re officially a tool if you have a fanpage, rather than a normal personal page. People don’t want to connect to fan pages. They want to connect to other people. I’ve seen some recent violations of this example, and it made me think of one thing: toolness. I guess there could be one exception to this: if someone else created the fan page for you, and you didn’t pay for it. Otherwise, you’re officially in my penalty toolbox. Sorry.* (*Businesses and brands are different here..they can have fan pages. But people as the brand w/ the fan page? Better bring it!)
That’s it! If you consider these few rules, you should stay out of the toolshed. And friends, that’s not a place you want to be. BUT–we all need to be our own best promoters, instead of worst enemies. And that’s something we’re all trying (or should be trying) to get better at, without overkill.