Are You A Leader Who Can Promote Yourself?


Along the way, many of us have gotten the message that promoting our leadership brand needs to be done quietly. We worry that if we make too big a deal of what we represent, whether it be a product or service, other people will think we are being too pushy. While there is some truth to “not going over-board” in sharing our precious wares, it is also important to be confident in promoting what we are all about.  



Yesterday I bumped into a woman who I have known for many years in our local community. She has a very successful and creative relocation business. We began our discussion asking about one another’s family and how our millennial children were surviving. One of her sons is an officer in the army and just returned from Afghanistan. I was so taken with his courage and her bravery as his mother. The next part of our conversation leaped to our businesses, as we keep up with each other’s progress. She began to tell me how she just hired some great people and how her target audience has evolved to a larger demographic. She was so excited to share her news and I was thrilled for her that the real estate part of her business was growing. At the end of the conversation, after I too had shared all my exciting ventures, she said: “I have a new brochure with me, I will leave with you to look at!” How amazing that she carried these promotional materials with her wherever she went. Additionally, she shared her success with me with confidence and pride. I had no cards or materials with me. 

 Later that morning, I ran into a man I have known in the community for many years too. We also shared all of our family stories and what our kids were up to. He is a gifted athlete and coaches tennis. He began to moan: “I’m looking for something new but who wants to hire me at my age when they can have a younger worker? I don’t have strong skills anymore. I just don’t know what to do.” I was taken back by his lack of confidence and negative feelings about all his talents. We talked a little about what he could do but I left feeling he was so lost and had little belief in himself. How was he going to sell his brand? 

 How can leaders network in a way that they are able to promote themselves without feeling they are salespeople?

In Daniel H. Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human, he contends that we are selling all the time and it is part of what people do with one another. When we try to influence someone, we are essentially selling our point of view. I love the idea that selling and promoting is a way of living. To share our businesses or careers successfully leaders must: 

  • Network with everyone they meet
  • Show confidence in what they stand for
  • Purposely share stories about their products, services and accomplishments
  • Be focused on how they can help others

  Are you a leader who can promote yourself? How do you share your stories, products and successes?


 (photo credit)







10 thoughts on “Are You A Leader Who Can Promote Yourself?

  1. You would be surprised, Joy, how many people have a difficult time seeing their contributions and talents and sharing them with others.

    If we want to make a difference in people’s lives, we need to share with them how we can be helpful.

    Thanks Joy for your great comments!

  2. The other difference between those two was their passion and energy. Her positive energy was contagious. It’s easy to believe in people who are excited about what they’re up to.

  3. I agree Karin that having a passion about what we do is essential to promoting ourselves. Yet, sometimes the networking piece seems challenging for some if they are less confident when dealing with other people and look at the “sharing” as pure “selling”.

    Additionally, not everyone feels as comfortable in reaching out to ask for help. If we can look at promoting ourselves as an assist towards others reaching their goals, we might be able to overcome the insecurity.


  4. Love this list, Terri!

    I agree that when we try to influence someone, we are essentially selling our point of view … this perspective provides a much wider understanding of how important our interactions with others really are.

  5. I could feel how lost your second friend feels through your description and how on purpose your relocation expert friend feels too. As Karin mentioned, there is a ton of energy that is truly contagious when we feel like we are adding value in a meaningful way.

    Without a sense of purpose about our future, we can also fall into a sense that our past doesn’t really count either. Who would care? The truth is that the first person that needs to care is the one in the mirror.

    I struggle with self-promotion vs sharing enthusiasm. I think that this post will help many discern the difference between the two and the impact it has on self and others.

    Thanks, Terri!

  6. Terri,

    Confidence in who we are is vital, as is humility and empathy. Confidence in who we are empowers us to communicate our story in our words and presence. Confidence in how we listen and understand another’s story is also a key part of our brand. Being comfortable with who we are will make this all work. Great post!


  7. I find that if I can think of my self-promotion in a different way, and focus more on how I can help others, I am more successful in selling.

    Of course, we need to believe that what we are sharing is important and can empower others to achieve their dreams and goals.

    Thanks LaRae!

  8. I love your differentiation, Alli, between self-promotion and sharing enthusiasm! We need to take that enthusiasm and propel it into helping others find their north star.

    What I learned from the relocation expert is that her energy transferred into identifying a larger demographic for her company to pursue. When she shared her stories with me, they were less about tasks and more about how people benefited from her services and made their busy lives so much easier.

    Thanks Alli!

  9. I am intrigued with your connection with confidence and humility and empathy, Jon. But you are so right that we cannot understand another person’s perspective without first feeling good about who we are and what we stand for.

    When we are confident we are more able to relate to others and build meaningful relationships. We are also more open to different ways of doing things and don’t need to just sell our way.



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