Let’s talk about self-promotion by way of a little story…
The other night, I went to see a show in a very cool new venue in town. Though I hadn’t yet heard of the band that was playing that night, it had been warmly recommend to my gentleman friend and I by one of the guys running that venue.
A singer-songwriter was the opening act. She had a lovely voice, and her music was great. At least twice in her set, she kinda started telling a story, and really grabbed me. She clearly had a talent for stories (and I’m completely spoilt, and thus picky, when it comes to storytelling) – I wanted more.
Seriously, you tell us that your guitar is one year older than your grandmother? There’s a story in there, and I want to hear it!
She was also, quite obviously, shy and not completely at ease in front of us, even though she seemed to have enough stage experience under her belt. Probably contributing to her uneasy feelings was an apparent self-consciousness of the fact she couldn’t speak much French and was singing in English for a francophone (though certainly bilingual) crowd. One of the ways her shyness manifested was that as soon as she finished a song, she’d start tuning her guitar for the next one, without even pausing to enjoy the applause. She even said, at one such point: “Oh, I’m just tuning my guitar!” – but you’ve just finished a song, sweetie, and that’s what we’re applauding you for!
Well, this was part of who she was in those circumstances, and that was all well and good. It even contributed to distinguish her from any other too polished singer-songwriter, whom I would not have been talking about here because there would have been nothing to say. I’d even say that it was, in a way, endearing.
However, one thing saddened me: not only was she not introduced before or after her set, but she did not introduce herself either. I enjoyed her set and would have loved to know more about her. Heck, I would have liked to at least know her name! But really, I’d also have loved for her to tell me where she was from and if she had other shows in my area on her calendar. At the very least, I would have liked to know where I could find her on the web so that I could find those infos by myself and even sign up to her mailing list so that I’d get updates and could maybe catch another one of her shows one day.
I would have liked to tell her: Sweetheart, I know it may feel uncomfortable to you to say these things. You may think it’d look presumptuous of you to assume we might want to know. But really, I do want to know! I liked what you did tonight. Please help me find out how I can get more!
End of story, back to here and now…
I guess I don’t need to draw you a picture. You do cool stuff. You are passionate about it. Please give me the opportunity to learn about it. Let your passion shine! I will most certainly at least appreciate getting a hit of that passion. And I may well be among your Right People, in which case chances are I will also be interested in your Thing, and will be happy to get the info without having to pry it out of you.
Talking about that cool thing you do is not bragging, it’s not spamming, unless you go overboard and, really, I trust that you would not: this is so not your style!
(And, as Havi would say, please, please, please do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase “shameless self-promotion“; it’s never a good idea.)
So remember: when you’re talking to your Right People, you’re doing them a favor by telling them about that cool Thing you do. Whether you’ve created the most amazing vegan and gluten-free amaretti cookie recipe that on its own makes it worth to buy your cookbook* or you’ve put together a reflexology guide to ease the discomforts of PMS, believe me, those who need it want to know that such a thing is out there in the world. Don’t hide it from them!
*Winking to my friend Celine, who has created that amazing cookie recipe (yes, it’d be worth getting the book even if it was just for that recipe alone, and I say that about other recipes in that book too; seriously, do yourself a favor and get it!) and was patiently waiting for me to publish that little piece of mine on self-promotion. Love you, C.!
You’ve certainly gotten my point by now, no need for me to drag it any longer.
What about you: is self-promotion difficult for you? If so, is it hard no matter what, or do you find it easier in certain circumstances? Do you have ideas as to what would make it easier?