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Episode 52 – What To Do When You Are Afraid To Promote Yourself

I see this a lot with the business owners I work with: they have a great idea that they are passionate about, but when it comes to promoting it – or even talking about it – they suddenly clam up and feel as shy as the new kid on the first day of school.

Or maybe they’re OK promoting their business, but they don’t want to be the face of it. No photos on their website, no personality behind their brand – and definitely no speaking engagements or other promotional opportunities!

If this sounds like you, don’t worry! That was me too when I started and it is still me to a certain extent.

Here are some ways of approaching promotion that I’ve discovered to boost your confidence and help you reframe why you are doing this in the first place.

Understand What’s Happening – It’s A Pattern Shift

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: of course it is scary to put yourself out there.

We are conditioned to be modest, not to boast and not to declare ourselves ‘special’ or that we know something other people don’t.

We are used to other people choosing us as being worthy of reward or giving us openings for opportunity.

We grow up seeing if we are picked for the sports teams (I wasn’t) or if we get good grades according to someone else’s marking system.

This is the norm in school, careers, sports, in so many cultural systems that we go through.

We can put ourselves forward but we don’t get to declare ourselves the ‘winner’ or the in the case of business it would be the expert or the leader.

It’s not the usual scenario, so of course it feels wrong and uncomfortable to give yourself a title of expert or to call yourself a leader (outrageous!) and then have the gall to actually go and tell people about it (the horror!).

What kind of self-centered, conceited, pompous asshole would do that?!
See what I mean?

I am not trying to make it sound worse here, I’m explaining why your natural reaction may not be to shout from the rooftops about your new thing.

And I get it. Actually my theme for the year is “Tell the world” to make sure I actually do tell the world about my work.

You are not alone

And here’s the big secret: Almost everyone experiences discomfort promoting themselves at some point.

Yes! Everyone! I did, Marie Forleo did, Tony Robbins did, even Oprah did. (I’m sure of it!)

The only difference is that successful business owners push through that anxiety and discomfort until they get to the other side.

It’s not that everyone else isn’t experiencing this – they are. But they respond to the feeling differently.

Sure, there are probably a few people out there who naturally love self-promotion, but for most of us it’s uncomfortable and frightening.

But it is something you’ll have to grow to get used to if you want a successful business, so go in knowing you’ll handle it with baby steps.

Choose Types Of Marketing Suitable For You

Everyone is different, so they can run their business differently, including the promotional piece. There are three fundamental pieces in your business – The Money Three:

1. Your Business Foundation

2. Your Sales Process

3. Your Lead Generation

The part where you promote is your lead generation, your marketing.

So choose marketing strategies that suit you. If you haven’t already get your Entrepreneurial Design Profile which will give you some insight on how you can run your business in alignment with your personality.

If you are more extroverted networking or doing live streams or speaking from stage could be a fit for you as an example.

If you are more introverted you may prefer to work on strategic partnerships or focus more on an active referral strategy.

Come back to your why

If it’s overwhelming to even get started promoting yourself, come back to your why.

You started this journey with an important mission in mind – for yourself and your potential clients.

So, why are you doing this – for a better future? For yourself? For your family?

Then ask yourself: Why are you doing this work? Why this thing instead of anything else you could be doing? Is there a particular problem you want to solve? A community you are passionate to reach?

As I’ve said before, every business needs to solve a problem, so presumably you started this business to help people – but you can’t help them if they don’t know you exist.

For me, this was a powerful way to reframe the act of promoting my business. It was no longer about me, but about the people I serve – YOU!

I realised that I’m truly passionate about helping people start their business in a way that’s going to work, and that people really do need what I have to offer.

When I look at my promotional efforts as it being about letting people know about my work and it’s about the audience instead of being about me, it’s much easier to get myself in the groove to do the work of promoting.

Understand That To Not Tell The World Is Actually Selfish

Taking that thought further – that it’s not about you, it’s about helping others – if you aren’t making important information available to others and putting it in places they can find it, you are actually actively doing those people a disservice.

It’s actually selfish to not let people know about something that can help them.

That doesn’t mean you should work for free, after all that would lead to you not being able to pay the bills and have to give up, which is nearly as bad as not doing it at all.

But it does mean that you have a duty of care to talk about your work and to let people know about it.

Detach from your fears

Another aspect of this I hear often is a fear of failure. People are afraid to put themselves out there because they are afraid to fail.

One great way to combat this is to detach yourself from expecting an amazing outcome every time.

If people ignore your Facebook post, just know that happens sometimes, especially with the current algorithm, and look for new things to try or better ways to approach your marketing. If you’re not proud of the way you write your blog posts, keep learning and keep practicing.

It’s a habit, not a one-time event.

It also helps to have a little perspective. Many people get caught in the trap of perfectionism and wondering what other people will think if what they share isn’t perfect.

But let me ask you: do you think anyone is paying THAT MUCH attention?

People Aren’t Paying As Much Attention As You Think

I hate to break it to you, but they’re probably not. Even my best friend doesn’t read every blog post I write or watch every video I do.

Almost certainly what feels like a huge scary big deal to you is not a big deal to anyone else. That video you recorded where you think your hair is bad? If you’re delivering value, no one is going to care.

And, even better, that big deal won’t feel like a big deal a year from now. So just remember whatever details you are worrying about now, in the grand scheme of things is not that big a deal.

So move ahead, do the thing, publish the post, upload the video and keep moving forward. Again, it’s a habit. If you want to be a successful business owner, it’s a habit you must encourage in yourself.

They say that business is 20 percent doing the work and 80 percent promoting it.

It’s an inescapable fact that if you want to succeed, you will have to promote yourself – at least until you’re successful enough to pay someone to do it for you!

It all comes back to reaching those who need your help.

If you shift the focus from promoting yourself to reaching the people who need you to solve their problem, everything else – including the fear – has a tendency to shift with it.