LinkedIn, Ego and Self-Promotion

I don’t write very often about articles or posts published elsewhere. But I could not let a particular one go without making my thoughts known, especially as the Social Selling movement is really starting to gain steam.

About two weeks ago, I published in my LinkedIn Status Update a link to an article called “Why Self-Promotion Is a Terrible Idea.” I wrote a substantial amount of text about it in my update – more than I’ve ever written before. I’ve linked to the article above, so you can read it before reading my reaction.

Here’s a quick preview: In his opinion, if you self-promote on LinkedIn, you’re essentially a plaid-wearing, finger-snapping, cigarette-puffing used-car sales-type. Which, of course, could not be more wrong.

I’ve got to say the author of this article really does grind my gears. Why? Because he makes one huge assumption about self-promotion: There’s nothing but ego behind it.

Here’s the thing: I’ve seen a lot of cases where he’s 100 percent right. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen blatant self-promotional articles – on LinkedIn, in Facebook business pages, on Pinterest and Instagram, in blog posts, etc. – that say nothing but “I’m awesome, my product/service is awesome, I’m an expert because I say so, and I’m SHOUTING THIS AT YOU BECAUSE I CAN!!”

Self-Promotion: Always Or Never?

Does all of this mean that LinkedIn users, and especially those using social selling techniques, should fear self-promotion because it’s 100% egotistical, annoying and even “nauseating” (a word used by this particular author)?

One word: No.

Here’s what I wrote in my status earlier this week in response to this piece:

What I get out of this mean-spirited article is don’t make your promotion about the “I” (meaning, you). Make it about the people you serve by giving them great content that helps them..and only THEN put your name on it so they’ll think of you as an expert. NEVER call yourself an expert…as my wife would say, “that’s something other people should say about you.”

Even though he did make some good points, can you tell I really don’t like this article? What’s more, instead of trying to help people out with their writing and promotion, he tears apart the entire concept – a concept that works very well for a lot of people, by the way – because he finds it annoying. And let’s not forget “occasionally nauseating.”

That, folks, is a lesson on how not to write a helpful business-related article or post for any publication. A supervisor of mine from a long, long time back in my professional career told me, “Never come to me with just problems. Bring me solutions.” Ever since then, I’ve practiced this whenever possible.

As I said before, I do realize there’s too many articles and posts on LinkedIn and elsewhere that are about the particular author’s “I” and not about what it is they do for potential customers. I would eradicate that if at all possible, and the following is my little contribution to doing just that.

Focus On Your Readers’ Needs And Problems

I could write an entire post on how to write articles and status updates for Social Selling strategies, and I likely will at some point. For now, though, here’s a couple of do’s and don’ts to get you into the proper mindset:

  1. Do educate. Make sure everything you share has genuine value to the reader, and is not blatantly self-promoting. Your in-depth knowledge of your field is the right kind of self-promotion.
  2. Do focus on their needs or problems. As someone who knows about your field, you should know about your potential customers’ problems. The best time for them to buy is when they’re trying to fix them. Create and publish your information in such a way that helps fulfill their needs or solve their problems.
  3. Don’t promote or advertise any products, sales, paid seminars, Webinars or any other offering as your primary message. Doing so after your article ends, though, works because it is separate from the educational portion of your post. Just make sure it is completely separate from the main body of your article.
  4. Do offer a take-away, strategy, or something a reader can implement, even ifshe or he does not work with you. Ideally, this take-away should be a “freebie” – free to implement, unless it involves some kind of tool, book, etc. from a third independent party – and should be implementable by the reader (like this list).
  5. And for goodness sake, don’t make the only take-away in your article be that the reader has to contact or hire you to learn how to do whatever it is you’re writing about. That’s just… well… wrong.

In other words, in Social Selling you should happily sharing your knowledge about a subject your audience. In this way, you’re acting like an expert without calling yourself one. And as my wife says, it really is up to others to call you an expert, guru, etc. Calling yourself one is egotistical.

In all cases of self-promotion, remember this: Knowledge talks. Ego walks.

And by the way…the author’s assertion in his lede paragraph that “everyone with a LinkedIn account – which means pretty much everyone – is a self-proclaimed expert, thought leader, trendsetter, or influencer,” is completely incorrect. Just go through your own 1st connection list on LinkedIn and see how many people actually publish articles, provide status updates, or have their statuses structured to show themselves to be experts. Precious few, I bet. The author immediately lost credibility with me based on that statement alone.

This article, which has been partially re-written for Business 2 Community, originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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