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Lots of people, especially women, find it uncomfortable to talk about themselves. They veer away from self-promotion and even when they know they’re good at something, they often play it down. Why?!

Why does the thought of selling make us cringe?

Having run workshops on this topic, with women all over the world, I can confirm that the results are always the same – the way people feel and the emotional reaction it evokes is undoubtedly where the problem resides. When I ask groups how the prospect of promoting themselves feels, I’ll be met with words like awkward, arrogant, embarrassing, unnatural and cringe to name but a few.

There are many reasons why it might feel uncomfortable to promote yourself which may include the fact that you’ve never consciously had to do it before, maybe you’ve not given much thought to how you want to come across nor have you spent time crafting a powerful message. If you don’t know how to clearly communicate ‘who you are’, if you don’t know which bit of your story to tell and you have never practiced ways of telling it, of course, you’re not going to feel confident about it… I don’t know many people who would!

When it comes to interviews, salary increases, promotions, winning new clients, partnerships, collaborations and all that could appear on the career and business path ahead of you, you won’t be able to help people unless they actually work with you – which means, at some point, you’ll need to sell yourself!

It’s time for a reframe!

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By re-framing how you view ‘selling’ and understanding the value it has – to you, your career or business – will help you get more comfortable with the idea and this, in turn, will hopefully lead to you becoming more interested in learning how you can get better at it.

Rather than focus on how ‘selling’ makes you feel, shift your attention to what it would mean for you? For your family? For your wellbeing? For your career or business?

What if being able to promote yourself resulted in earning an extra £50k each year? What if strategic positioning saw you landing 5 new clients? What if your negotiation skills improved because you knew your value and weren’t happy to downplay it? You get the idea…

If this was your reality, you could have more time, money and control.

  1. More time: If you earned more, would you choose to work fewer hours and free up time? If so, what would you spend that extra time on – Other projects? Friends? Family? Travel? Creativity? Wellbeing?
  2. More money: Maybe you’d work the same amount but instead have more cash in the bank -how would you spend it? Could you free yourself from financial worries? Could you give back and make more of an impact on the world? Would you reinvest the money into your business or hire a bigger team to grow the business further? Would you save for your family’s future?
  3. More control: Could you say “no” to the wrong opportunities – choosing only work with the ones that align with your values?

The self-promotion hack

I’m going straight in with the self-promotion hack here because there is an easy way! By crafting, building and growing an authentic personal brand, it will do a lot of the ‘selling’ for you.

A personal brand encompasses everything centred around you and your public image – on paper, on the internet, and in person. Loosely defined, it is a way of establishing and consistently reinforcing who you are and what you stand for in your life and in your career.

Personal branding isn’t about puffing up your ego, showing off or boasting, essentially, it’s your shop window – the thing that creates the pull; making people stop and take a closer look. A good window display will draw people in so imagine yourself as the owner of a shop called ‘YOU’ on a bustling street. Would you refrain from putting your wares on display in the shop window for fear that potential customers walking past might think you were showing off? Would you allocate your time to quietly working away in the stock room whilst leaving the window display empty in the hope that someone would come in to find out more?  No, of course you wouldn’t!

If you are this metaphorical shop and your online presence (as well as your offline appearances at events, meetings… anywhere really) is your shop window – are you happy with how it looks? Does it accurately represent what’s going on inside? Does it attract aligned people and opportunities?

Hopefully you’re starting to come around to the idea that selling can be both valuable and meaningful to you – personally and professionally – and by spending some time thinking about your shop window, you’ll be taking the first steps towards crafting your personal brand.

Yes, a strong personal brand can do the hard work for you but that certainly doesn’t happen overnight and maybe you’re not there yet so if you’re still feeling a little reluctant (and icky-cringe), I’ll leave you with…

3 tips on how to get started

Photo by Danielle Pilon from Pexels
  1. Get super-clear on who you are, what you do and where you’re aiming to be – there are no right or wrongs here!
  2. Add this to your bios and discussions. Start creating content and putting yourself out there. Have conversations, meet new people and build relationships. It’s only by getting out there and ‘doing’ that you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, and you can easily evolve and refine your message or approach as you go.
  3. People buy people and all relationships are human to human. You don’t have to do what other people are doing, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. By being authentic and showing up as yourself – sharing the things that matter to you, your values, your stories and a sprinkling of vulnerability – you will begin attracting aligned opportunities that are right for you.

By getting comfortable with selling, you can create enormous value for yourself, your career and your future so it’s never too soon to start!