Written by Karen D. Swim
I could not see her face but the anxiety and confusion in her voice provided a visual image that made me wince with recognition. “I don’t understand it. I have given keynotes to a room filled with hundreds of people. My training programs have consistently received excellent feedback. I know that I’m good at what I do but for some reason I just can’t seem to promote myself.”
I nodded as my fingers gripped the phone. My client had successfully run her own business for more than a decade. She was known in her industry for her results. She had been published extensively in respected industry journals. Her knowledge and expertise were unquestionable, but like so many others, she had difficulty selling herself.
Her words could have been mine. I had only recently found my own breakthrough with this problem. I am not sure if misery loves company but as I struggled to free myself I found no shortage of smart professionals facing the same brick wall.
This is not a problem confined to gender, culture, geography or even age group. The fear or discomfort of self-promotion affects business owners, employees, executives and freelancers – in other words, anyone and everyone.
In Guerilla Self Promotion, Dave Jensen ( 10 OCTOBER 1997, SCIENCE’S NEXT WAVE http://nextwave.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1998/03/29/207) shares the following definition of self-promotion from behavioral scientist George W. Dudley:
“The fear of self promotion consists of all behavioral habits, thoughts, actions, or feelings, which conspire to keep competent people of all walks of life from being able to stand up and take credit for who they are and what they do well.”
So, why is it so hard for competent people to promote their expertise to others? A few of the common reasons I discovered:
- Fear of Rejection
- Fear that you will appear arrogant
- Lack of Confidence
- Fear of isolating others with self-promotion
- Fear of Success
- Dislike of sales tactics
- Taught to value modesty / humility
- Uncomfortable in spotlight
The root of these reasons will vary individually but all can be traced to attaching an emotional connection to the promotion process.
This week we’ll take a closer look at our discomfort. We’ll pull out our deep rooted angst, and remove its power. I will also share tactics that will help you overcome your fear and become your own best sales person without compromising your values or integrity.
Have you ever struggled with fear of self-promotion? How did you overcome it? We’ll be discussing the topic all week.
If you have specific questions or issues you would like to see covered, let me know in the comments or by email at karenswim at gmail dot com.