The umpteenth piece on self-promotion

Why your content matters way more than anything else.

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Photo by 苏寒 赵 on Unsplash

Content matters the most

Those two experiences taught me something crucial about networking. But also about marketing, branding, and any other type of promotion.

Do you really want to be the guy or gal that dreams up social media campaigns for stuff like Goop?

Because I just went to their website, and it looks a lot like shopping items from Kroger — photographed from clever angles. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gwyneth Paltrow in the Avengers movies. But even Pepper Potts can’t make me pay that much for what I can find at a grocery store.

Free Trait Theory

Your ability to network and promote yourself depends very little on your actual personality type. Like we’ve seen time and again since Susan Cain’s book Quiet, introverts can socialize and engage just as much as extroverts — or even better. But why?

How do you think Hannibal Lecter got so good at convincing people he wasn’t a cannibal? He watched and learned human behavior, then created a disarming persona.

Acting like someone else might sound dishonest, but we all do it. Some of us just do it better than others, and we do it for a range of reasons — not necessarily to take advantage of people, but to survive happy hour with our coworkers. A noble cause.

Epic networking fails

It’s easy to forget how networking and promotion actually work. We see it done poorly so often. Plus, magazines and infomercials lie to us all the time. They want us to believe in the power of pep, just as much as self-made billionaires with reality TV shows.

Remember the worst networking fail you’ve ever seen. How bad was it? What made it so bad?

I’ll tell you mine, at least from recent memory. About a year ago, I was wandering around publishing booths at another conference. A nonfiction writer was handing out promotion baggies.

The elephant factory

There’s a powerful machine at work these days. It wants you to sign up for charisma coaches and hire publicists. It wants you to try and sell something, even if you have nothing.

Look, Slick. Just ride this out. You have no idea how bad shit’s going to get after you leave. You’re the Ronald Reagan of the Democratic Party. Just don’t fuck any more interns, and you should come out of this okay.

A hundred experts and influencers will take your money in order to shine up what you’ve got. They’ll promise to fix your life. Double your web traffic. Triple your sales. They’ll show you how to use LinkedIn.

Focus on the center, not the fluff

We all get distracted by the ephemera. Stats. Followers. Traffic. Viral tweets. We almost want there to be a secret to all this. There’s not. Just failing, learning, and trying again.

The marketing potential is baked in. Think about how many people expel their bodily waste by sitting on a toilet. Not quite everyone, but pretty close.

And we don’t do it just one or twice a year. We do it every day. And shitting can be uncomfortable. So a device that makes it easier has instant, nearly universal appeal. From its inception.

The commercial’s job was easy — be funny and quirky enough for people to remember the premise. Yep, you’ve been shitting wrong your whole life. You need a stool.

Without an actual product, the commercial would’ve been worthless.

Written by

She’s the funny one.

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