post # 303 — February 6, 2007 — a Client Relations post
I received two emails at opposite ends of an important spectrum yesterday. The first, from Bill Paul, Author (Ex-Wall Street Journal and CNBC energy reporter) read, in part:
As a former Wall Street Journal staff reporter, I’m not big on self-promotion, but I thought you might be interested in knowing about a new book just published by Wiley about the future of energy. . . Title is: Future Energy: How the New Oil Industry Will Change People, Politics and Portfolios. Sorry again about the self-promotion.
The second email was from Keith Ferrazzi, the author of the best-selling Never Eat Lunch Alone, one of the most successful recent guides to networking and self-promotion. Here’s (part of) Keith’s email:
I really wanted to maximize the opportunity for readers to actually start using the advice (in LifeCoachTool 1.0) in their own lives, I also had my team put together a simple online quiz/survey/tool that doesn’t cost anything and only takes a couple minutes to complete. If you visit this link
- Watch a brief video of me explaining what it is
- Try it for yourself
- Even enter a contest we’re running that rewards you for helping make others more successful â€” prizes include personalized coaching calls with me, signed books, and DVDs. Should be fun.
What struck me about these two emails is not just the extra thought and investment that has gone into promoting Ferrazziâ€™s new venture, but (no surprise here) his utter self-confidence in putting himself forward.
By way of contrast, Bill Paul, (in common with many people including myself, ) actually feels so bad about letting me know about his new book that he apologizes – twice — for doing nothing more than politely informing me of the availability of something I might be interested in.
But hereâ€™s the interesting thing. While itâ€™s clear that Ferrazziâ€™s approach is going to get more response, Iâ€™m not sure I could do it on behalf of myself. Like Bill Paul, there is something in me that holds me back from the more explicit forms of self-promotion.
Like many other professionals, Iâ€™m comfortable with showing my material and saying â€œLet the work speak for itselfâ€ but Iâ€™ve been around long enough to know that more than that is required. Iâ€™m just not comfortable doing it.
Those who are in marketing often laugh at the people who donâ€™t want to â€œget out and network,â€ but the reluctance to self-promote is something many of us were brought up with. We can read and be impressed by Ferrazziâ€™s book about networking, but find it hard to do personally. (Maybe thatâ€™s why we try to hire other people as our marketers for doing it for us — which rarely works out too well.)
These are the things I am reflecting on:
- Where does the reluctance to self-promote come from? Is it a â€œsocial gracesâ€ thing that we were taught by our parents? A psychological characteristic we are born with? Is it a class-based thing?
- How many of you out there are like Bill Paul and me — fundamentally uncomfortable with self-promotion?
- Can non-self promoters be taught to get psychologically comfortable with it? (I know I can be taught to DO it, but can I be taught to get comfortable with it?)
- Are the Keith Ferrazziâ€™s of this world — stellar, skilled, unabashed networkers and self-promoters – born or made?
- Can, or should, I be doing more of what Ferrazzi advocates (eg., Never Eat Lunch Alone)?