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Promote Yourself

Promote Yourself

I’m running into a recurring theme when meeting new, interesting creative folks: they don’t know the first thing about how to promote themselves and what they’re doing. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re attending conferences or gathering with lots of interesting people to discuss your big ideas and future plans, a little self-promotion is a good thing.

  • Business Cards– use a service like VistaPrint, or cooler still, make your own from something interesting. But make sure these things are true: your name is clearly printed on the card. Your email and also your telephone number are on the card. You may choose to add an IM address or Skype. Add a URL if it’s pertinent.

    Hand OUT the business cards. There aren’t points for coming home with extras. The goal is to get these cards into people’s hands, into their files, and then to have them be used as a way to contact you and discuss things.

  • Conversations– When you’re at these events, or at conventions, try and have something fairly simple ready to say if you find yourself in a conversation. It can even be pre-packaged, but have something to say about yourself, about your work, about why you’re at the event, and what you intend to do. People’s first question is often: So, what brings you here today? Have a really interesting answer. “I’m here to discover if my big plan will fly.” Boy, that’s a simple sentence, but it really has some wings, huh? People will talk about that with you.

    And here’s another: once you meet with someone sufficiently, politely excuse yourself, and meet someone else. Sometimes, at these events, we meet a few people right off the bat, and then we stick with them the entire event. That’s fine sometimes, but at other times, it’s better to get around and meet everyone you can, because you never know where that big connection might come from. Mix it up. Get around and meet people. Oh, and if you personally aren’t really great at being social, but you’re trying to launch a company, befriend or partner with someone who IS, because these ideas don’t walk over and sell themselves.

  • Authority– People react well to those who act with conviction and authority. If you sound very sure of yourself, and of what you’re doing, it will go over really well with people. If you sound like you’re testing the waters (even if that’s really what you’re doing), it will come off that way, and most people will become quickly disinterested.

    Try working on sounding like you truly believe in what you’re doing, no matter what that is. “I’ve been writing this comic book, The Three-Testical Toucan, for four months, and I think it’s really going to take off with the next issue.” If you sound like you believe it, they’ll go along for the ride.

  • Follow-Up– You can also think of this as a “call to action.” Even if you hand over a business card, talk fairly intelligently about your subject matter, and seem like you really are the expert in toucan comics, it matters that you are thinking about where you want to take things with anyone you talk with, and whether or not you have a call to action for them.

    It might be something as simple as: I’ve published this comic and I want to sell you two issues at $1 off the cover price. Want them? Or it might be that you want to develop your idea further, and are asking for help and guidance. Whatever the case, consider the “call to action” or follow-up activity that you want from the person you’re talking with.

  • Quid Pro Quo– I still think of Silence of the Lambs when I say that. It means something akin to “like for like” (lawyers, ring in!), and it basically means that in this new micro-economy of people with secret new businesses, there’s not a lot of money exchanging hands.

    Sometimes the best currency is barter. You know everything there is to know about inking toucan art, and the other person knows how to talk with publishers. You have to try and find ways that your skill can be useful to the other person. Try to consider that during your interactions as well. It’s not always obvious, and people tend to think less of their own skills than their true value. So, give that some thought.

There are adventures out there to be had right now. It is a great time to have something creative, inventive, and small that you want to bring to a larger world. Be ready to bring your own ideas forward, and be ready to bridge the gap between what you have and know about, and the people who are eager to learn about your great idea.

–Chris Brogan is available for all kinds of consultation on the topics of big ideas, presentation skills, how to podcast, and any kinds of hacks you want to discuss. He hangs one of his hats at [chrisbrogan.com].

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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