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The Delicate Balance of Self Promotion for Peer Recognition

man yelling through a megaphoneGetting noticed.

What a challenge in today’s world. It’s crowded, noisy and self-absorbed to the point where it seems people hardly can rest and breathe let alone take notice of something. Too many people are doing great things in obscurity, never to be noticed or acknowledged.

A vast group of people don’t mind toiling away in the shadows. They like working behind the scenes, being a spoke not the wheel, only having a voice when a specific occasion calls for one. I find no fault in that having been there myself many times.

They may or may not ever get recognized. Perhaps if they stay long enough their contributions will be noted with a wall plaque or a retirement party. That feels good and right to them – no self-promotion of any kind. Only receive recognition that is stirred up by and comes from peers.

Then there are the entrepreneurs…the visionaries…the go-getters who have a message and a purpose to push. In their eyes, the only way to realize the fruition of their dream is to self-promote it. For them to reside in obscurity and let the message slowly unfold over time would be suffocating. It would bring death to their spirit and ultimately their venture.

There is no compulsion to avoid self-promotion with this crowd. In fact, for those choosing to make a living off their “brand of whatever” self-promotion is a necessity. It’s what keeps the bills paid.

So where are you on this continuum?

To Self-Promote Or Not

I bring up this topic for two reasons.

The first reason is because I’m a terrible self-promoter. Always have been. It’s not that I’ve never been a leader or responsible to push a brand. I simply find it challenging to insert myself to the front and shout, “Hey, notice me. Look what I’m doing.”

Who do I target? Where do I promote myself? What’s the message? How much is too much? I don’t know.

(If you give lessons, I’m listening.)

Secondly, because I found out this week that I’ve been nominated as a finalist for the 2014 Plutus Awards. These awards are presented at the annual personal finance conference known as FinCon, which this year is held in New Orleans. The category for which I was nominated was “Best Religious Personal Finance Blog.” That’s way cool for me personally to have my work recognized by my peers. Thank you to anyone who put in a vote!

I’ve been blogging for over two years now and have noticed each year some of my personal finance colleagues asking their readers to nominate them for these awards. My initial thought the first year was that it seemed cheesy to do that. Ask for an award? C’mon.

Now I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s all part and parcel of promoting one’s brand. Officials ask to be elected. Companies bid for contracts. Dogs whine when they are thirsty.

In hindsight I’m left wondering “Why didn’t I ask?”

Maybe it’s my personality type which naturally pushes me towards the “stay in the shadows” crowd. To toot my own horn seems self-indulging and egocentric. I’d much rather consistently and loyally do my job day in and day out and let the recognition from my peers fall where it may.

Don’t get me wrong…I want/need the attention and recognition as much as the next person. I just struggle to seek it. Maybe that’s good…maybe that’s bad…maybe it’s neutral.

Then along came the Internet

There may be some components of this that are generational.

In my teen years, we had no means of self-promotion that could easily be spread to thousands of people. The best possible outcome would be to get one’s name or picture in the newspaper for some accomplishment. When that happened you clipped out the article and put it in your scrapbook. Remember those days?

Your life was kept close to the vest, not spread for all to see.

Then along came the Internet in my college years and things began to change but not dramatically. Yes, you could now have a website devoted to your cause and AOL made it easier to chat with programs like Instant Messenger. But those didn’t make it seem like it was all about you…only about getting connected and gaining knowledge.

Social media changed everything. Myspace came. Now you could have a platform and share your favorite music, activities and pictures with your friends. Facebook followed. Twitter. Instagram. Blogs. And the list goes on.

Suddenly it’s way easier to get your message out and let your voice be heard. Everyone seems to be doing it. We have hashtag campaigns from the First Lady, terrorist videos of beheadings and Ice Bucket Challenges all promoting a cause. Some messages are very effective while others fail miserably.

I wonder though if social media is helping us blur the boundaries of self-promotion. The noise coming from some people is deafening and quite frankly off-putting.

Where Is the Balance?

I’ll admit to not knowing where the balance lies at self-promotion. It seems there has to be one. To make things “all about you” gets obnoxious after awhile for all those listening.

I know that for Luke1428 to grow in reach I’ll have to get better at promoting myself. That’s going to stretch me personally and move me out of my comfort zone. Perhaps I need that anyway.

But I’ll still always love when behind the scenes people get recognized for their achievements without asking for it. That type of acknowledgement feels the most rewarding, at least for me.

What’s your take on self-promotion? Does it ever cross a line? If so, when? How did you teach yourself to step out and become more vocal? Do you think it’s more rewarding to receive recognition for something you have not asked for? How slow have you been to adapt to and use social media…does it feel comfortable to you?

Image by Michael Phillips at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: Should I Leave An Inheritance to My Children?

Prior Post: How to Make a Thousand Dollars in a Month on the Side With a Blog


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  1. I’m a lot like you in the self promotion arena. I don’t do too much of it, but should be doing more. I love getting noticed though without the self promotion. It makes me feel like I really did something good and noteworthy.

    • It’s psychologically powerful to be recognized by one’s peers for work you do. I never set out to win a blogging award but it does sure feel good. And it feels even better to me knowing I didn’t lobby for it.

  2. I’m really glad you wrote about this Brian. Concerning the awards, I felt that I was perhaps too young in the blogging world to ask for votes. Also I tend to stay behind the veil and just work hard to do my best. I have to find a happy ground because I have plans to spread my belief on “striving to live beyond what money can buy”. In order for that message to be heard and embraced, I have to step out from the shadows a lot more.

  3. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income says

    Awe Shannon stole my thunder, but I was going to say if your true intent and desire is to help other people why wouldn’t you promote. You are basically offering a service to help change people’s lives for the better.

    I think most people are reserved and that is okay. I feel like I am doing better. I need to speak up at work and show people my drive. Sometimes people just don’t notice because they are busy and aren’t paying attention. If it helps you and your family then it’s good to promote. Better to be told no at the end of the day than to wonder “what if.”

  4. Congratulations on the nomination, Brian! Very well deserved! Self-promotion is such a delicate balance. It’s something we need to do but it can be hard to toot your own horn well. It is something that I struggle with as well, so if you find the answer to doing it well, please share! I also feel that those who agonize over it are the ones who are doing the work that needs to promoted and shared. Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks Shannon!

      “…those who agonize over it are the ones who are doing the work that needs to promoted…” Interesting…hadn’t thought of it from that angle. Wonder what the connection is there?

  5. Congrats on being a finalist, it’s well deserved! I tend to lurk in the shadows as well, doing my work quietly and hoping people will notice. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I have been trying to get behind the mindset that my goal is to help others, and in order to do that, I need to spread my message and further my reach. That can usually only be done with the help of others – by asking or networking. Putting the focus on your readers (and taking the focus off of yourself) helps me.

    • “That can usually only be done with the help of others – by asking or networking.” Which then makes it really tough for people who don’t want to or feel uncomfortable asking.

  6. First off, congrats on being a finalist! I’m with you on self promotion though. I’m not very good at it as I feel like sometimes my work should speak for itself, but sometimes people need that extra push to get your message out there, so for now I just try to pick and choose carefully. If it’s something I think people will really enjoy and it has a great message, I’ll promote more, but if not I’m usually pretty quiet about that stuff.

    • Thanks Tonya!

      “…I’m not very good at it [self-promotion]…” It’s probably going to be the one thing I work on most in the upcoming year. Along with the development of this blog, I’ve been given another opportunity in my personal life that will require it…more on that later…no spoilers. 🙂

  7. Congrats (again) on being chosen as a finalist 🙂

    I was the same as you, I noticed people lobbying for votes. Since I get a fair number of readers that are not part of the personal finance community, I did link to the awards by mentioning someone else’ post about the nominations. Never campaigned beyond that because I figured, hey, I’ve only been at this a couple of months.

    But at work, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been there two weeks or two years. If I’ve added value and an opportunity presents itself to let management know, I will. It’s the smart thing to do in order to earn raises or promotions. I suppose I need to carry that same mindset into blogging if I want to earn from it.

    • “…an opportunity presents itself to let management know, I will.” That’s actually a really smart move because sometimes management forgets or just don’t see it for some reason. From having been in positions of leadership, I know it’s easy to get tunnel vision…to be so focused on tasks and be blinded by what is going on around me. Sometimes even leaders need a wake-up call to what their followers are doing.

  8. I literally had a God moment in my car yesterday about this very topic. I promote my brand and my message because I really want to help people and it is what I know I was called to do; however, it does sometimes come across as very self-serving. My goal for myself is to always check myself and ask why I promote and why I am doing it. Is it for my will or His? It’s hard to help people if they don’t know you are there and ready to help, but yes, it does feel cheesy and self-serving sometimes.

    • I think that’s a great perspective Shannon, one that I continually have to remind myself of. In the end (for me personally) promotion isn’t about me…it’s about helping others.

      For people who don’t know you and your goals it may seem self-serving. The important thing is that you understand why you are doing it and have a clean conscience about it.

  9. There’s an okd saying: if you want something done, ask the busiest person in the room. That is me and my husband. We work hard and it never goes unnoticed. My husband especially works in an industry where he has to promote himself in such a way that he wins tender bids (convince a company he should be their project manager) but it usually doesn’t take much. He works very hard and always delivers great results. Eventually word spreads. Hard work pays off. Do something well and it will not go unnoticed.

    • “Do something well and it will not go unnoticed.” I agree with that. In the case of your husband it sounds like he’s developed a great reputation based on his past results. His hard work has become his promotional material. I like that.

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