Self Promotion at Work
People say "You are lucky, you are a born networker!" Well, that's not true. You only see the tip of an iceberg – aggregation of events ... and hard work. If you wish, take a look "behind the scenes" of my "networking iceberg" experience.
1st half of this article is kind of a case study on self promotion – my experience based on my bio as well as on enabling hundreds of people to grow. I wrote it for those who want to understand not only WHAT to do for self promotion and HOW but HOW OTHERS did self promotion successfully.
2nd half: How-Tos based on 1.
Self. Promotion. At. Work.
Self: You are a bad person, if you think and talk about yourself … they say. Are you? How can you see and enable others if you decide to take “self” out of the equation? There would be no point of reference, no possibility to start a conversation – to connect, to discuss, to learn, to partner up or to distance for good.
Promotion: … is bad too!? You trying to sell me something? Ahhh no, just giving you a piece of information – you decide what to do with it.
Work: 90.000 hours of your life – which you can spend creating, tolerating or destroying – you, the people around you and the results of what you actually do every day.
Self Promotion at Work – in my opinion that's connecting and presenting facts, stories and emotions from the past, the present and the future of your working life + pointing out your role in it + the value that the person you talk to gets out of it.
My Experience with Self Promotion at Work
My name is Galina Bankova. I am 37, born and raised in Bulgaria, living in Munich since 2004, entrepreneur, coach and speaker, who loves what she does – enabling people to find and do work that they love and jump out of bed in the morning, excited about the new day.
I’ve been doing self promotion for years, not on purpose, actually without planning the end game. How comes?Time between 2005 and 2015 for example was the time, when I gave a lot. Actually I never missed a chance to give. Barely asking something in return. Those 10 years were shaped by the 10 jobs I had, 10+ communities I built from scratch or helped those flourishing, thousands of people I met, failures I survived, skills I learned, connections I made or enabled.
Two environments which played a major role 2005 - 2015:
Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship – the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Applied Sciences Munich – where my journey in the magic world of startups & intrapreneurship began.
Here I worked as a program manager for educational events on innovation and new ventures as well as social media community building. This way I started meeting young people who were excited about starting a business and personal development as well as executives from corporations and NGOs. And I gave them all I had to give – within boot camps and lectures, when they needed mentors, a place to work, WiFi, testers for a product, co-founders or interns.
=> One learning from those times and circles, that hurt but also inspired me:
There are so many cool people, businesses, ideas and projects out there in terms of smart, meaningful, worth supporting and working with. Being cool is not enough though. Most of the students, entrepreneurs and executives I’ve met since then should get better in promoting what they do in order to get the attention, the buyers, the employees, investors, ambassadors etc.
Munich Media Speakers – one of 16.000 clubs at Toastmasters International – a 100-years old worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators, speakers and leaders.
Being an active member at Toastmasters 2010 - 2014 was exciting, insightful, often frightening and bottom line life-changing. Beside being a club member I also acted as a club president and a VP Marketing & Social Media for 2 years. Thanks to those different roles, the regular meetings and well-functioning tracks for education and members’ development I built and polished my stage presence, learned about foreign domains and disciplines, but most of all I met so many inspiring people, I grew thanks to them and experienced them growing.
=> Two learnings from those times and circles:
When people practice on stage they pick a topic to talk about – you can only learn how to wrap up gifts, if you have an item in a box to wrap. This topic is often times close to their day-to-day lives. Focusing on the speaking part allows them to share content without trying to deliver the perfect information. This way next to practicing public speaking, people succeed in educating others about their own domain, manage to find customers, employees, friends, even husbands and wives (Hello, self promotion, nice to meet you!).
Building a muscle in regards to “public speaking” and “leadership” is a basic tool, that helps you gain confidence and start loving the moment when you speak to others. It takes time to build and train that muscle, but it's worth it. Be patient and take your time for training. You sharpen any message you’ve got, anything you want to share – e. g. show what you’re good at, market, sell, flirt, educate, communicate in a diverse environment, make friends. Public speaking skills help to promote and make a difference for yourself and for the world.
Two environments which played a major role after 2015:
Summer 2015 – Do Work You Love was born – the Network for people, who love what they do. For the past 3 years we've organized hundreds of networking, inspirational, educational and hiring events; connected people, businesses, touched the lives of thousands of people. Why am I writing this? 2 reasons:
Me starting up that business and movement succeeded to a large extent because of the people I've known by then. Actually because they knew me. I had helped hundreds of them when they were "small and weak" and now they were "strong". When I needed help (ideas, advice, speakers, marketing, promotion, venues, participants, customers, partners ...) they showed up. Thanks to them I not only built my business but a home base, a network for NewWork-ers. In this case I'd say, that my self promoting started 10 years before I needed it most.
Because I've experienced the power of being surrounded by the right people, I couldn't help but find ways to establish frameworks for others to have the same. E. g.: the event series "Do Work You Love Vernissage" is about having role models on stage and hearing their stories on work that they love and how they got there. Audience gets ideas, insights on success factors and failures, even job and co-founding offers. By gathering the right like-minded people in a pleasant, easy-going atmosphere, setting the core topic and having attractive employers as partners, Do Work You Love became the place to get promoted and meet others through their promotion.
As a result following things happen on a regular basis:
Audience experiences cool people who work with companies and have an easy way to connect with them and eventually get a job.
People talk about their achievements without bragging – in the contrary – they feel how they inspire others and connect with new friends, customers, employees etc. That not only makes speakers more confident in sharing / promoting in future but encourages people from the audience to follow their example.
Colleagues, bosses and friends of speakers suddenly see the speakers from a new perspective, spot new common interests, experiences, goals. That leads to reconnecting on a deeper level, it changes team dynamics, culture and results.
... self promotion x 3 or even x 4
Matchmaking at Bits & Pretzels: ... started as an experiment in 2017 and developed to a huge success in 2018
Bits & Pretzels is an application-only, three-day festival that connects 5.000 founders, investors, startup enthusiasts, and all other decision-makers of the startup ecosystem, since 2014. Participants claimed they needed more and better opportunities to network. 2017 I was appointed to plan and implement an innovative networking concept. Matchmaking was born and within two years it grew to the extend of being known, heavily used and much appreciated by attendees. For more details read the article on Matchmaking at Bits & Pretzels. Key facts about its value and relatedness to self promotion:
there is a 140 square meters sized Matchmaking Area, which you can visit at anytime to network and benefit from our offering
you can actually talk to us Matchmakers face-to-face – real people – who help you make the best out of the event
a diverse Matchmaking crew of 45 highly skilled and motivated matchmakers – among them: young or experienced founders, intrapreneurs, corporates and service providers; age range: 20 to 50; people who know and are well-known in Munich’s startup ecosystem; people from abroad e. g. Silicon Valley; 70% females; we speak 10+ languages
online “Find & Offer” platform, where anyone can place or find relevant requests, e.g. investment, job offers, biz. partnerships etc.
8 Speed Dating Sessions = 900 people, 15 meetups on relevant topics = 350 people
in total more than 1.500 people matched
13.000 contacts enabled
serving 5.000 cups of coffee
Links to Self Promotion:
Participants still approach me and give thanks for the efficient and pleasant way to connect with the right people. Feedback is that they've never had such an outstanding low-pressure and deep-connection networking experience – startups, investors & corporates.
My team of matchmakers improved and practiced successfully their networking skills and report on using those in their day-to-day life ever since. I perceive that as having 80 self promotion leaders out there, creating a stir.
I believe in the attitude "What you wish to kindle in others must burn within yourself first" – meaning that in order to make event participants comfortable with promoting their businesses, the matchmakers should start promoting themselves first – and enjoy that. And they did. During preparation phase matchmakers promoted their skills, personalities and goals as part of team building activities. One thing led to another and bottom line was: e.g. one matchmaker was offered by another matchmaker to travel to beautiful Rio and give an expert talk there. He did. Another matchmaker received 3 job offers because of her self promotion within the team.
HOW-TOs on Self Promotion
Thanks for reading the text above. Now you probably ask yourself, what does that mean to YOU? What are the specific actions that YOU can take, now? Here comes a list of suggestions – kind of a lean abstract. Each bullet point on itself could be the topic of a separate article. In case you wish some elaboration, examples or specific advice based on your current situation, let me know.
Do good and talk about it – you can simply start by doing what you wish others would do for / to you. And tell the story – what you did, why you did it, what you expected, what happened, what you learned, what went wrong, what was awesome, what does that experience mean to you and others now / in the future. E. g. send your customer Max Miller a greeting card for no reason => see what happens => tell your team, maybe post on LinkedIn.
Start now! Self promotion is something you build LONG BEFORE you need it – same as friendships and romantic relationships, working relationships are about the people we meet, the way we interact and the value we exchange. That all takes time, energy ... more time, common experiences. E.g. think about a person you respect and consider worthy of support. Text them or talk to them in person right now. "How are you? What are you up to these days? How can I help?" – that's all it takes to get the ball rolling.
A dance on the edge between being clever, honest, bold and bragging – it must feel a bit uncomfortable, at least at the beginning (because society told us "self" and "promoting" is wrong). Grit your teeth and get to it! It's basically like getting used to a new hair cut or speaking a foreign language when on vacation.
Give what you have without having guarantee on getting something in return. Call it karma or "you never know who's watching"or "you always meet twice".
Don't wait till you’re perfect + don't pretend to be perfect. It’s enough to say what you care about, what you believe in, your WHY, what you spend your time and energy on. E. g. when meeting a new person, say that you are a passionate amateur photographer and you've taken pictures at your 3 best friends' weddings => how it went, what you learned, show pictures, what's next, why do like photography so much, what's the kind of photographer that you wanna become, who are the people / events / projects you are looking for etc.
If you want to move from being an "enthusiast", to a "PRO" in a specific field => practice discipline => learn the hard skills, master your domain => discipline equals freedom and strength => freedom and strength form your style, earn you respect ... and money.
No bullshit bingo – fall in love with solving problems, for others. Put aside all the fancy, polished, good-looking titles, abstract concepts, sophisticated terminology. That's the time to move the focus from what you have accomplished by now to how you can make the other person's life better, easier, more productive etc. Name specific action points inkl. what to start with.
Promote others (give feedback, compliments, recommend) in front of themselves and in front of others
Listen to understand, not to answer (or to show off)
Connect and elaborate facts, stories and emotions from the past, the present and the future – pointing out your role in it + the value that the person in front of you gets out of it. Same as learning how to drive – practice it step by step and enjoy getting better in it. Before you know it, you'll be doing a pretty good (self) promotion.
Give others the exact words, stories, facts, pics etc. which you want to be connected with you. This way you make it easy for them to understand, remember and pass info when needed on who you are and what you are good at.
Find a “home” – a circle of people that enables you, gives you strength (instead of starting from position of weakness) – e.g. Matchmakers in their official role of networkers feel strong, build their network thanks to enabling others. Nowadays you can find a huge amount on various communities and networks. If you can't find one, start your own. Need ideas? Ping me. When in doubt, join the Do Work You Love Network.
Confidence = Vulnerability. There's this popular misbelieve: asking for help, talking about what went wrong, not having it all figured out and showing vulnerability is a sign for weakness. Think twice. How did you perceive the one person who came to you and said, they needed help? It takes courage and confidence a) to reflect, b) to accept and c) to communicate the gaps. That's your best leverage on your path of self promoting WITHOUT bragging. Show vulnerability.
Authenticity & Self Awareness – reflect on who you are and who you want to become. Get inspired by others. Shape your own style to talk, be, act. Mix it all. Go. Try out (play) => reflect => adjust => repeat. That's actually the one to begin with and always come back to :)
I wish you to fall in love with promoting ideas, things, people and visions of a better future! :)