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?