Self-promotion. We hate to do it, but it is a necessity if you want people to learn about what you do or what you have accomplished. No one is going to come knocking on your door if he or she does not know what you have to offer. I know it seems self-serving. The truth is – do it, or be alone. This applies to both your personal and professional life.
He initially came to Rochester, NY because of his mother’s failing health. For several years, his focus was to ensure that the final chapter of her life was done her way – and it was. He gave up a lot professionally to it. Personally, this was where he needed to be.
During that time, I learned that he was an avid amateur photographer. In his early 20’s he thought about being a professional photographer; instead opted for another path.
His day job is doing complex database development – that is a bit different from being a photographer. A many people do, he made it work by incorporating his passion into his personal life.
Amidst all his thousands of negatives, I would ask, “Have you ever shown your work in a gallery show?” The response was a mumble, “No” then “Do you think I should?”
“Of course,” I said, “what are you worried about…that someone won’t like your work?”
Bingo. I am staring at the look of self-doubt.
Self-doubt is an example of limiting ourselves. It is central to why we do not promote ourselves. When we show people who we are, what we stand for, how we express ourselves, we open ourselves up to criticism.
Some people can be cruel about their comments even though it is right on the mark. The same comment delivered two different ways could illicit receptivity or closed mindedness from the receiver. A little bit of feedback goes a long way, especially with the person who is overcoming self-doubt.
It is a good sign that the majority of people exude enthusiasm for someone who shares self-expression – whether it is visual, written or auditory, especially when it brings joy, insight, challenge or pleasure. That helps them get more comfortable with promoting their work or themselves.
I have had people tell me they are just not strong enough to do it. It is not about strength, more about having confidence in yourself and letting people into your inner circle. It is about accepting that no one is perfect and being OK with it – even you.
Not everyone will like you or your work nor can you meet every person’s needs. Know that for the people who “get you” they have to be able to find you.
He is having his first photography show.
That is a big deal.
Thanks for the words of encouragement. This has been a recurring theme with me so it’s good to hear an outside perspective. What you say makes sense. I need to give myself more credit for my skills and abilities. This is something I also learned about when I was in job transition last year. You need to learn to blow your own horn because you can’t count on anyone else to do it.
I’m ambivalent about this. Yes, many people hide in the shadows rather than promote their own work. But, on the other hand, I’ve seen too many people who lost out on freelance projects or full-time jobs because they bragged so loudly that the client/interviewer was put off by it.
In several cases, the candidates were very well qualified, and would have been perfect for the position, but didn’t let the interviewer ask the questions which would have allowed them to highlight specific skills and experience. Instead, they blew their generic trumpet and the interviewer gave up and showed them the door.
There has to be a middle ground somewhere. We need to listen to the needs of our prospective clients, and present them with just the information they need to recognize our perfection without any distracting fluff.