How to Use Social Media for Self-Promotion

It’s almost impossible to be successful in any field of endeavor without promoting yourself.  Yet, in Western culture, at least, egregious self-promotion is considered taboo.  This is especially true in social networking where the best way to create a negative image is to shamelessly and inappropriately call attention to yourself.

You’ve seen people who do this.  They write comments on other people’s blog posts, but the comments have nothing to do with that blog; the comments are about them with a link to their stuff.  Or, they invite you to connect with them and soon you’re deluged with messages about them, their product, their next seminar, or whatever it happens to be.

These people are boors.  Like the guy at the party who corners you and won’t stop talking about himself, you always want to get away from them.  And of course, you don’t want to be like them.

So how can you use social media for self-promotion without coming across as offensive?  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Never Use Someone Else’s Platform To Advance Your Cause. Recall how shockingly rude Kanye West appeared when he stole the mic from another artist during an awards ceremony to promote his own agenda.  Never try to promote yourself on a site that’s about something else and never try to call attention to yourself in the comment section of someone else’s blog.
  2. Promote Yourself by Promoting Others. Find people in your network whose work you admire or who are doing things that are laudable and talk about them.  When you promote others, people notice you too.
  3. Be Humble. Give lots of praise to others. Take little for yourself.
  4. Take an Interested in Others. When you’re genuinely interested in other people, they will be interested in you.  Don’t beat people over the head with messages about what you can do for them.  Instead, get to know them.  Ask about what they do.  Invite them to talk about their projects or what’s going on in their lives.  Rejoice in their successes.  Empathize with their challenges.
  5. Help Your Contacts Find Clients. If people in your network are in business, ask them what they’re looking for in a customer, then introduce them to people in your network who meet that profile.  The contacts you help in this way will always be on the lookout for ways to return the favor.
  6. Introduce Your Friends to One Another. If there are people in your network who have much in common or who would certainly become friends, introduce them to each other or arrange a get-together.  As their relationship grows, both parties will remember you fondly.
  7. Be Subtle with Blogging. Blogging is one of the best ways to subtly make people aware of what you know or what you can do.  When you publish articles in your area of expertise week in and week out, people come to understand how knowledgeable you are without you having to explicitly say so.
  8. Bring People Together with Blogging, Wikis or Other Interactive Sites. The most successful sites bring people with similar interests together by inviting them to write articles and make comments.  All of the people who participate on your site will see you as the expert because you made the venue available and you moderate the discussion.
  9. Beware of Spamming People. Self-promotion can easily cross the line and become spam.  When you want to let people know about a new project or a success, send out one or two messages and let it go at that.  Never bombard your contacts with constant or repetitive messages about what you’re doing.  It’s the best way to get people to disconnect and start ignoring you.

What else would you add?

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