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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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