Shameless Self-Promotion is … Awesome!

Remember my post on rockstars awhile back? I’m taking that post a bit further, and I’m going to talk about … self promotion.

I have been called a shameless self-promoter before. Interestingly enough, I’d either agree or disagree with that label, depending on your definition of self promotion:

  • I DON’T promote ME for ME’s sake. I don’t generally push myself on anyone, brag about myself, put others down while building myself up, etc.
  • I DO push my small business. I brand most of my presentations/blog posts/books/articles/videos as – I use my full name as my brand for my consulting/speaking/writing business. And I DO promote that.

I’ll go so far as to say this – I think every single one of us has done a bit of self-promotion. You DO have a job, don’t you? You most likely had to sell yourself during the interview. You probably talked about yourself (in the best possible light), you actively discussed your accomplishments, and in general, probably made sure everyone knew that you were, in fact, the best one for the job.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. In fact, I think more of us need to figure out how to do it well (myself included). Here’s why – if we don’t share why we, as librarians, are awesome … who will?

As Stephen Abram says (in the comments to my first Rockstar post), “Few can name staff at the big competitors like Google etc. beyond the rockstar founders/inventors/investors, because the staff are irrelevant to the site experience. That should never be the case in libraries … If we’re about relationships, then a true relationship knows the name of the person they want to deal with – not just an anonymous professional behind a desk wearing a badge that says ‘librarian’ or generic virtual reference identity [emphasis added].”

You simply have to put a name and a face to the library. Think of it as giving a face to your stuff and your services if you need to. But people relate to a face. People want to FUND a face.

So – where to start? Here are some self-promotion “starter” tips:

  • Be confident in what you’re promoting. Never feel bad about promoting content that deserves attention. With all the crap that exists on the Web, if you’ve created a wonderful resource for your niche, you should be excited to share it because it may help someone else. from Small Business Trends.
  • Use your voice. Don’t alter your voice to fit in with what you think people expect of you, and certainly don’t change your style in an effort to make yourself popular or appear to be an expert. By all means think about your audience, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to please them all. from bnet.
  • Share. Lots. Social media is also about sharing information – tons of it. And that, perhaps, is the best way to promote what you know and what you can do. If you want to be recognized as a leader in your field, you need to share what you know. You should use your social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook and blogs—to share information. from
  • Focus. Focus on your strengths, and share those. Do those, if you can, at your job. If you start a blog, focus it too. Don’t write about your job, your favorite projects, your cat, and your favorite recipe. Instead, narrow it down to … your professional strengths (or whatever it is you’re really interested in).
  • Provide a service to your community. And put your name on it, so your community knows where to find you, should they want more.
  • Circulate yourself. Leave your building, and start meeting people in your community. Find out how you can serve the hospital across the street (we actually have one of those).

And finally, actually be good at what you do.

Thoughts – agree? Disagree? How come?

  • Edwin

    I agree totally and told my Dutch collegeagues all about it. Thanks David.

  • Kathy Dempsey

    Right on, David! I always push the idea of shameless self-promotion in my marketing presentations ( Not only do I talk the talk, I walk the walk (as you can see).

    Here’s the important thing tho: Self-promotion isn’t a nice little extra for librarians anymore; it’s an essential tool for survival. Look at the mess we’ve gotten into since internet usage became widespread; many people think libs are obsolete. Budget cuts are rampant. If we’re not out there telling everyone that we’re essential, things can only get worse.

    That’s part of why I named my small business Libraries Are Essential.

    OH and we need to do it *outside of our own industry echo chamber*!!!

  • Jennifer Meyer

    Awesome tips. My institution has just gotten in the social media world and I have been asked to head up our online presence locally. We talked about all these same things. Do what you love and then tell others. Great post – thanks!

  • Mylee Joseph

    I think it’s really important as library professionals to consider our own personal ‘brand’ and to remember that each of us is the CEO of our own career. We live in a social networked world and work in a highly networked profession, your personal brand is visible and your online profile is of interest for employers.

    Employees with a great reputation can only enhance the brand of their employers … many libraries are famous because of these staff (eg. Who had heard of the public library in Delft before the Shanachies became such great ambassadors for the DOK library? Why has an Aussie librarian heard of Topeka Library when she couldn’t find Topeka on a map?)

  • Ryan Livergood

    I completely agree with you all. In fact, just last month I finally opened my eyes and realized that I needed to start promoting myself in our profession. You are so right, all library professionals need to be active in self-promotion to advance their careers. Me 2.0 by Dan Schawbel is a really good starting point on how to develop your personal brand.

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