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?

More on Rockstars

dlk on guitarJust an update to my last post The Librarian IS the Rockstar. There’s a good bit of discussion going on in the comments to that post – go revisit, read the comments, and chime in!

There’s also some discussion going on in two other places:

Andy Woodworth wrote Shine Like a Star, Star. Nice post that fleshes out the whole promote staff idea: “But for those who don’t mind the exposure, the promotion pays in branding dividends. If you can put a human face to the library (and not a picture of a building, as is commonly done on Twitter and Facebook), then patrons can make the better connection to a person than simply identifying the place. In thinking beyond the immediate, when it comes to advocating for the library, it’s an easier emotional connection to say “Miss Jessica at the library needs you to write to your representatives” than “The library needs you to write to your representatives”. Patrons will be doing it for the people at the library, not simply the library itself. It’s that kind of identification that the library really needs; that personal connection that emphasizes that we are a people business.”

And Nancy Dowd, over at The M Word – Marketing Libraries blog, also wrote about Rock Stars. She’s a marketing director, and really knows her stuff. Here’s what she said: “The more people from my library that I can get into the newspapers, on a podium or winning an award, the happier I am.” Then, Nancy goes on to list 5 really goodreasons why this is a good thing.

So – go read the posts (and subscribe to Andy and Nancy’s blogs, if you don’t yet), then add to the discussion.

The Librarian IS the Rockstar

pic by libraryman

About a year ago, I tweeted this:

But I leave u with this to ponder: are your librarians your rockstars in your community? Should they be? If so, how do u get there? (from Twitter).

Here’s where I was going with that tweet: Awhile back, my library’s Communications Specialist said this to one of our librarians, who was worried that an article in our library newsletter focused a bit too much on her. Our Communications person said this (summary) “yep – my goal is to make YOU the rockstar, not me.”

I thought that was an insightful statement.

Our marketing person realized that one HUGE asset our library has, and therefore our community has … are our librarians. So we sometimes need to focus on our staff, rather than just on our stuff.

Why NOT “showcase” some of our fine staff a bit? We do that with all our other important, cool stuff, right? Our Harry Potter books and movies were all over some of our websites a few years ago. We make banners for important author events. We turn our “stuff” into the attraction (which makes sense – people come for our stuff).

How about this – why not create a banner showcasing, say, the librarian storytime dude that plays guitar and attracts a crowd? We’ve actually done that. In the process, instead of focusing on our “stuff” (in this case, the fact that we have storytimes), we focused on the specific staff person that did the storytime.

This also makes sense, because some people come for our stuff … AND our staff. You’ve seen this, too. More kids attending a certain person’s storytime. Patrons asking for a specific person at the reference desk. Maybe even one librarian blogger getting more hits on his/her blog posts because of their more personal writing style. People like our staff.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. We have amazing staff – and I’ll bet you do to. So why not showcase them a bit? Put them out into the community. Get them on the news (we do that on an afternoon news program). I know some librarians that write weekly newspaper columns.

Get out of your building. Step away from the reference desk. Call the newspaper. Start emphasizing your rockstar staff – not just your rockstar stuff.

Then see what happens.