A friend recently said I’m the best at self-promotion of anyone she knows. This should be taken less as an indication about me as one about our social circle — chiefly, geeky introverts — but is fodder for a blog post nonetheless. Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to me (I’m a geeky introvert too, after all), which means I had to do some theorizing about it before I could succeed at all. So here are the things I know that I know (stick around to the end and add stuff you know):
- It’s harder if you’re an introvert or a woman. And many of you, my readers, are at least one of these. Introverts tend to have moral, even physiological, difficulty tooting their own horns, and gravitate toward situations which feel like meritocracies (hence, where one can maintain the hope that good work will ipso facto be rewarded). My advice for this is (sorry) get over it, or be OK with being passed over. Women have to navigate the ever-shifting line between being assertive and being a bitch, which means in turn positioning themselves vis-a-vis concepts of femininity, leadership, even couture and diction. (I don’t actually have anything useful to say on this one, I’m afraid. It’s hard. Especially if you’re a manager.)
- If you’re looking for an opportunity, tell people. Tell everyone. Doesn’t the factoid say that your opportunities are most likely to come from friends-of-friends? So the more people who know what you’re looking for, the more likely it is that someone who can help you will hear about it.
- Use your social media. There may well be ways to self-promote without social media, but I’ve been an internet junkie since 1991, so that’s what I know. I was hesitant to get on Twitter because I thought (ironically, in this context) that I’d be uncomfortable being so public, but it turns out to enrich my life immeasurably. Because I reach out to follow people, to comment, to join a conversation, to try to be helpful or kind. Because I ask for help, and the angelic legions of the internet are there. I’m not saying it has to be Twitter — tweet, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, whatever works for you. And use the technical aspects as well: find ways to synchronize the content you care about, automate your egosurfing, fall wildly in love with site stats and analytics (and use them to find, and reach out to, your audience).
- Say yes to things. Not everything, because that way lies the crazy. But volunteer, or get professionally involved, or turn your class projects into published works, or find things that need doing at your work and do them — something to go beyond the minimum. And when someone interesting asks you to do something relevant that’s maybe a little wild and crazy and outside your comfort zone, don’t think about it long enough for the self-doubt to sink in. Say yes.
- Be helpful. Be kind. Look, don’t be that guy who only talks to people when you want something from them. That’s obnoxious. You want people to give you the aforementioned opportunities, be the kind of person they want to give them to.
- Be a rock star. I don’t mean trash hotel rooms, rage about brown M&Ms, and sleep with all your librarian groupies. I mean, whatever skills you have that make you unique, embrace them and be confident in that uniqueness, and let that confidence radiate from you. Act confidently. Because fundamentally — and especially in a bad economy — if you’re not a rock star, why should anyone bother with you? And if you don’t think you’re a rock star, why should anybody else?
So talk to me, blogosphere! What do you know about how to (or not to) self-promote? What opportunities are you looking for?
 Of course, I’m not sure that I can be said to “succeed” until I have a job. Point number 2 — did I mention I’m looking? If you know anyone who needs a tech- and people-oriented librarian in an academic or special library, or a creative environment using library skills, I’d love to hear. ❤