Do you like to Self-Promote?

Sell Yourself Business Card

Just last week, I was in a sales meeting in the heart of the City of London. I was with a prospect that I was meeting for the first time, that I’d been referred to by a networking contact. I arrived early, did a couple of laps around the block to kill time and some of my nervous energy, and then went in and introduced myself to the guy on the reception desk.

It turned out that my appointment was in a cab, running late from his last meeting, so while sipping a coffee in the reception area, I was given time to dwell on my thoughts. Would the meeting go well? Would I be able to strike up a rapport? Would he be interested in booking me as a speaker for his upcoming event we’d briefly discussed on LinkedIn?

But once he arrived, we sat down, and we started to talk – everything changed. We got on great, and we talked for some time about the challenges he was facing and how I could help him. He was inspired by my passion and enthusiasm for my subject, and we agreed to do business.

Of course, much of my nervousness before was just down to the anticipation of the meeting – but genuinely, once it started it was fine. It was easy.

This got me thinking. The meeting reminded me of all sorts of other occasions where in a sales context, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever talking about myself and selling my services. That isn’t an issue for me.

My challenges lie in not having enough of those conversations.

I’m not very good at promoting myself

There we are – I said it. In fact, I’m absolutely rubbish at promoting myself.

I believe that I don’t have enough sales conversations like my experience in the City of London because I don’t feel comfortable promoting myself. I don’t like talking about myself. The thought of telling other people how good I am, or broadcasting my abilities, or publicising myself makes me feel awkward.

I remember very clearly the day that my first book, The Unnatural Networker, was published. It was the day of the launch party, and I was nervous as anything.

The event was being held in a big meeting room in the office where I used to work. It was an after work do, and the team in the office had done a wonderful job getting everything ready. The invites had gone out, the champagne was on ice and the nibbles were all beautifully presented. All I really had to do was turn up, mingle a bit, and say a few words at the right time. 

My nerves were partly down to the fact that I would have to do some networking (yes, I really am a very Unnatural Networker). But there was something else. I just didn’t feel comfortable with the whole thing.

Firstly, I was going to be the centre of attention. Everyone was there because of me. That just doesn’t sit well at all. Secondly, and more importantly, not only were people going to be focussing on me, I’d have to talk about myself and my achievements (i.e. writing a book).

Of course – people did want to be there. They did want to celebrate the launch. They did want to hear about my experiences writing the book.

And you know what? It wasn’t just the book launch that I found uncomfortable. Ever since, whenever I’ve been speaking at an event, and the organiser has asked me to bring along some books to sell, I get the same pangs of discomfort. I’d much rather the organiser bought a bulk load of books and gave each of the attendees a copy and built the cost into the event ticket price. This means that that I don’t have to do any sort of promotion (while at the same time selling more books). Of course, recipients of the book then ask me to sign it, and I come over all awkward again…