Can you ever go overboard on the self-promotion and networking? If you had asked me this question a few months ago, I would have had a different perspective. You can have all the talent in the world, but talent alone will not win you jobs if no one knows about it. I’m a firm believer that you must learn how to promote yourself and your capabilities often, to the right people and in the best light.
I have gotten most of my voice-over work through my own self-promotion efforts. I am a perpetual student of marketing and publicity books and other resources. I observe what other people do both inside and outside the voice-over industry to see how I might apply the concepts to my business.
I learned from Wayne Dyer that when you ask the Universe, ‘How may I serve?’, the Universe will respond by asking that question of you. If you are constantly in a state of saying ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme’, the Universe will respond by serving up that statement to you. You will feel like you are always striving and never arriving.
The point I want to make today is that the needs of your audience still take priority over your own need to promote yourself. It’s not all about me, and it’s not all about you.
I advise people to tell everyone what you do. You never know where that next voice-over gig may come from. I mention my work while on vacation when people ask about it, and I tell them details when they ask questions. Sometimes I have seized opportunity while on vacation to make a pitch for work, but those times are rare. (I mean it’s rare that I have the opportunity, not rare that I would take it!)
After listening to a lecturer on our recent cruise, I compiled some guidelines about self-promotion when networking in social settings that you may find helpful.On our recent cruise, Drew and I met this guy while we were waiting to return to the ship from one of the islands. He told us he was a lecturer on the ship and proceeded to inform us about living in Hollywood, some famous people he knew, etc. As I have an interest in expanding my business with speaking engagements, I asked whether he lectured exclusively on cruise ships or in other environments. He was only too happy to tell me how he was the best of the best and got the job through an agent.
He gave us a brief history of his life including his acting background, which prompted Drew to tell him about my voice-over career. The guy asked about my credits, presumably to see if he knew my work. When I said I perform a lot of corporate narrations and audiobooks, he made some comment about reading textbooks for the blind, as if he had dismissed me as someone beneath his exalted stature.
I explained to him that commercial audiobooks are an $800 million industry and growing, in part because people are spending more time than ever in horrendous commutes. For instance, the average one-way commute in Atlanta is 34 miles!
The next day, Drew and I were enjoying a perfectly lovely lunch facing the water on another gorgeous Greek island. Mr. Lecturer had already called out to us while we were walking around the town, and now here he was walking along the waterfront, headed straight toward us.
He saw us.
I don’t know why I did it, but, before I could stop myself, the words were out of my mouth: I asked if he would like to join us. Naturally, he sat down. I didn’t know when I extended the invitation that he would spend most of his time sitting at our table and talking to the two crew members who happened to be sitting at the table next to us.
The man found the topic of himself to be endlessly fascinating. He told us about being a contestant on Jeopardy and his history developing game shows. He related stories of speeches past and happy audiences who were mesmerized by his words.
He never asked about us or noticed our needs that day. To be perfectly honest, we really didn’t care about his many past accomplishments because we would never be in a position to hire him. Maybe the retired senior crowd of fellow passengers would find him to be a sparkling conversationalist, but we thought he was obnoxiously boring.
All we wanted to do was sit out in the sun at this amazingly pretty and romantic place that we may never see again and look at the village scenery set against the water. We couldn’t even do that because the guy’s head blocked our view.
So, here are 5 rules for self-promotion when networking, especially while in a social setting:
1) Repeatedly ask yourself ‘how may I serve?’ when progressing the conversation.
2) Don’t talk endlessly about yourself. Other people lead interesting lives, too, and you may find out the answer to question number one by asking questions of others.
3) Don’t put down other people’s accomplishments to make yourself feel better.
4) No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished in life, somebody else is always better or has done more. Don’t make bold, bragging statements like ‘I know I’m the best so they were wise to hire me’. No one wants to talk too long with someone who is a legend in his own mind.
5) Take your audience’s needs into consideration before you make your pitch. Are you on vacation in an exotic location? If so, the chance is very good that no one is interested in talking about business anyway.