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Mastering Prospecting Confidence

How to Overcome Your Hesitation to Self-Promote

You can have the best idea, service, or solution to a problem, but if people don’t know about it, it doesn’t matter. Learning how to self-promote is critical for success, yet many business owners and ambitious professionals find it challenging to promote themselves. Keep reading as I discuss why we hesitate to self-promote, how to overcome it, and how to master the art of prospecting to start getting more (and better!) referrals.

After all, no one will be as passionate or care as much about your success as you do, so it’s in your best interest to learn how to promote yourself and become your brand’s biggest advocate.

Why Do We Struggle with Self-Promotion?

If you search “self-promotion” online, words like “egotistical,” “arrogant,” and “conceited” pop up – so it’s no wonder that many of us struggle with self-promotion. In a recent podcast episode, I asked several business owners, “What do you find challenging about self-promotion?” and here are some of the responses I received:

  • Fear of judgment or rejection
  • Coming across as vain or arrogant
  • Imposter syndrome, which makes self-promotion feel absolutely paralyzing
  • It’s awkward and uncomfortable

These challenges these business owners shared can be summed up into: fear, imposter syndrome, and lack of experience or how-to.

One – Fear of Rejection and Perception

There are several types of fear that could be influencing your hesitation to self-promote, but a big one is rejection. So many business owners and ambitious professionals won’t put themselves out there because they fear being rejected. However, rejection is part of the process of growing a business or achieving a big goal – not everyone is going to say yes to you, like your content, or think your idea is the best idea. And that’s okay – you aren’t supposed to work with everyone. 

I’m in my fifth year of business and I’ll be honest, rejection still sucks. When it comes to rejection, people like to dish out the advice to just get over it or to not take rejection so personally, but that can be hard to do. Instead, I’ve learned to continue doing the things I know will lead to new clients and more opportunities. When you provide a service, timing is a factor and my job is to be pleasantly persistent and to keep following up. I know that I will hear “no” but that doesn’t mean I’m not a great coach or my business is failing – it only means I need to keep going until I hear a “yes.”

If you are struggling with fear of rejection, I encourage you to think less about the outcome and if you’ll hear “yes” or “no.” Instead, celebrate that you put yourself out there, you asked for that referral, or you shared your service, and don’t judge your success based only on if you hear a “yes.”

Another fear that gets in the way of self-promotion is the fear of how others will perceive you, and coming across as boastful or selfish. Women especially struggle with promoting their achievements or accomplishments. According to a Harvard Business Review, there is a large gender gap in self-promotion with men rating their performance 33% higher than women who are performing equally, even when ranking themselves higher could be financially rewarding.

If you are going to invest in a service, don’t you want to invest in a service that you know works, solves a problem, and gets you results? And how are you going to know about this service unless the business owner is promoting their accomplishments, achievements, and client testimonials? I bet we all, myself included, have the opportunity to showcase our work more often to attract more of the clients we want to serve. 

If you come to self-promotion from a place of how it can be helpful and informative, focusing on the value you provide and the positive impact your business has made, you might minimize that fear of coming across as boastful or selfish.

But always remember – letting people know that you rock at the work you do isn’t a bad thing!

Two – Imposter Syndrome

Another self-promotion challenge is imposter syndrome which verywellmind.com defines as “a psychological experience of feeling like a fake or a phony, despite any genuine success that you have achieved.” Imposter syndrome creates self-doubt and minimizes confidence because if you feel like a fake or a phony, you likely won’t be inspired to promote yourself. 

If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, you’re likely spending too much time thinking about the reasons you aren’t qualified, so instead try thinking of and documenting all of the reasons you are qualified (and I’m sure there’s plenty more of these!). Also, celebrate your successes more through practices such as the Friday Ritual. When you intentionally write down your weekly wins, you remind yourself of what you achieved and what you accomplished. Imposter syndrome is based on a feeling, and documenting your qualifications and successes helps you establish actual evidence that negates the negative feelings imposter syndrome creates about yourself. Collecting testimonials from your clients can be another powerful way to combat imposter syndrome and remind yourself of the value you provide – you can even use these testimonials to promote yourself, which is a win-win.

Three – Lack of Experience or How-To

Some business owners hesitate to self-promote because they don’t know how to – they don’t have the marketing experience or know the best prospecting strategies and techniques. If this resonates with you, I want to ask you a question – when was the last time you studied your competition and how they market themselves? We can learn a lot about marketing by paying attention to what others are doing, so intentionally focus on what seems to be working well for others in your industry and try implementing these pratices in your own business or career. There are also courses you can take or people you can hire to help you bridge this knowledge gap, but don’t get too caught up in trying to learn all you can about marketing and sales best practices.

The truth is, this knowledge helps but you can’t study your way to overcoming your hesitation to self-promote – it’s one of those things you need to start doing and let yourself improve over time.

Fear, imposter syndrome, and a lack of experience or how-to are going to arise when you think about promoting yourself so if you want to grow and succeed, you need to learn to recognize when these challenges are holding you back and promote yourself anyways. You’ll learn, just like with anything outside of your comfort zone, that self-promotion gets easier over time.

Overcoming your hesitation to self-promote might not be easy, but it is a worthwhile endeavor that can be extremely beneficial to your business or career.

How To Overcome Your Hesitation to Self-Promote

Self-promotion, when done right, can be a powerful tool for your business or career as the more you promote yourself, the more people will follow.

I asked these same several business owners, “What would happen in your business if you promoted yourself more often?” and here are some of the responses I received:

  • Each business would thrive if I promoted myself more
  • Business would take off a lot faster and my confidence would grow
  • Business would definitely boom

So, how do you overcome your hesitation to self-promote?

One – Define Your Purpose for Self-Promotion

The first step is to define your purpose for self-promotion. Why are you doing it and what does success look like to you – obtaining clients, building a brand, being better known as a subject matter expert?

We get so used to what we see and believe to be overnight successes based on what is posted on social media. When in reality, it can take a while to build a brand or become better known as a subject matter expert. It’s also important to focus on tracking and celebrating the effort in addition to the result when it comes to self-promotion. What does this mean? We are so often focused on achieving a specific outcome that we might get frustrated and give up if that specific outcome is not achieved. For example, when I am working with clients who want to get referrals to their ideal clients, we often measure the number of times they ask for referrals, as they are building the habit, instead of only measuring the number of referrals they actually receive. 

Success in self-promotion should not only be measured in results, but also in the effort put into the process.

Two – Create a Plan for Self-Promotion

Having a plan strengthens your mindset and helps you work through fear, especially when it comes to self-promotion. You can start building a plan by asking yourself, how are you going to promote yourself to achieve your purpose for self-promotion? For example, you can create a self-promotion strategy for social media, attending events, or directly asking for referrals. 

One of the business owners I connected with for the self-promotion questions also shared, “If I promoted myself and my business more often, it wouldn’t do any harm. It would only seek to do good – reaching out to different media outlets to get media exposure, going to a new networking group, spreading that message far and wide, and not hitting the same audience over the head with the same message.”

And I couldn’t agree more – don’t be afraid to branch out and try something completely new when developing your self-promotion plan.

Three – Find Your Style of Self-Promotion

After you’ve defined your purpose and created a plan for self-promotion, it’s important to identify your style of self-promotion – how can you personalize it?

I mentioned earlier that you can study people who are promoting themselves to learn more about what works in your industry. Once you have a good idea of the promotion strategies that work, personalize them – add your own story, perspective, and style. Once you find your style, your self-promotion will feel more genuine and come across as less “sales-y” or arrogant.

For example, I tend to be direct when I’m asking for a referral or doing outreach to potential new clients. However, on social media I like to be less direct by sharing client success stories to promote my coaching. It’s a wonderful way to highlight and recognize my clients for their hard work, while also promoting my services and the work that we are doing together.

And finally – remember to focus on why you are qualified versus why you aren’t qualified. Self-promotion is easier to do when you are clear on the value you provide and all of the reasons why people should work with you.

Mastering Prospecting Confidence: A Free Zoom Masterclass

After reading this blog post, do you want to learn how to get more and better referrals this year? If so, join me for Mastering Prospecting Confidence: Strategies for Obtaining High-Quality Referrals on Thursday, May 30th at 10 a.m. PST.

For the first time ever, I am hosting a free Zoom masterclass to help you improve your prospecting process and become more comfortable asking for referrals directly.

Professional services are sold via referral and word of mouth. Thankfully, I knew how to do this when I started my business because I have been coaching small business owners on how to get more (and better!) referrals since 2009. Reaching out to people I knew and asking them for referrals came easily to me, but I know from conversations I’ve had with many business owners, including the ones in this blog post, that it’s not an easy skill set.

So, I’m excited to facilitate Mastering Prospecting Confidence to help you:

  • Grow your confidence around your prospecting beliefs
  • Gain clarity around who you want to get introduced to
  • Create a plan for prospecting so you can consistently get more (and better!) referrals

If you are ready to learn how to become a more courageous prospector and build excitement around meeting your ideal clients, click here or the link below to sign up for the free Zoom masterclass Mastering Prospecting Confidence.

I hope this blog post inspires you to ask for a referral or introduction, host that new service, or pitch yourself as a guest on a podcast – just imagine what would happen in your business or career if you started promoting yourself more often. And until next time, keep celebrating your weekly wins, noting your lessons learned, and identifying your priorities for next week so you can consistently pursue progress in the direction of your goals!

Click Here to Sign Up for the Free Zoom Masterclass Mastering Prospecting Confidence