Are you a douche?

Are you a douche?

I am fed up with all of the e-newsletters coming to my inbox. This frustration stems from the fact that I didn’t sign up for these newsletters. I posted on Facebook that I was on an unsubscribe mission. Based on the many comments posted in response, it seems as though there are a whole lot of folks who agree. So I decided I needed to do a follow up post to I Can’t Find You: How to Self-Promote Without Being a Douche.

I am a firm believer in self-promotion. I wrote that post because I don’t think some people promote themselves enough. But it has to be done right. And for some reason, what is right isn’t always very clear to everyone. So, here is my list of things you shouldn’t do when you self-promote.

1. DO NOT ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR E-NEWSLETTER WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. Were all those capital letters annoying? Certainly. But not nearly as annoying as all those newsletters I am getting. I got one last week from an African American Evangelical Christian group. I am a white Jewish girl in the suburbs. WTF folks???

Look, I send an e-newsletter. And building the list that receives it has been painfully slow. I think I have under 100 on the list. But everyone on that list is there because they chose to be. And just because I agreed to be your LinkedIn connection or your Facebook friend does NOT mean I agreed to let you sign me up for your newsletter. Capeesh?

2. And speaking of LinkedIn, sending me spam via LinkedIn is a major nuisance. I know you are sending these messages to all of your contacts, so it is just guilt by association. But don’t do it. If you really want me to attend your event, send me an individual, personalized email. That way I know you actually thought about it first. If you keep sending these to me, know that I shall be un-linking with you. Life’s too busy. I don’t need 12 different notifications of your events. And for some of you, I don’t really want any. I don’t want to attend your events. My lack of attendance and lack of response should be an indication that this is the case. Stop spamming me.

3. And still speaking of LinkedIn, do you really think I am going to approve a request to connect from someone I don’t know and have never heard of, with the LinkedIn template? “I’d like to add you to my professional network” is lame. Expediency is sometimes highly overrated. If I don’t know you, why would I approve that? You have to convince me.  So take a few moments to craft an effective ask that explains why it is in my interest to connect with you. It won’t take long, and the payoff is that you get what you want.

4. Unless you and I are close friends, do NOT ask me to vote for you, share your blog post, or leave a comment.  I could spend my day just responding to these requests. And none of these folks are going to pay my rent or any of my bills. And usually they aren’t going to promote anything I do either.

5. When you choose your title, choose wisely and carefully. You are not a ninja, guru, jedi, or expert just because you say so. Leave that to other people to say when they describe you. Otherwise, you sound like a douche. Truly.

I know I am leaving out boatloads of annoying behaviors. Please add your pet peeves in the comments.

When you send an email, do you have a permanent signature on the bottom? If you do, YEA! If you don’t, why not?  Even if it is your private email, you are  missing opportunities to promote yourself. My email has the following signature:

Info at the end of an email

My email signature

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of promoting yourself, think of it as providing a service to others. Frequently, I need to find people’s websites, blogs, or other online information. It is so easy if they include that information in their email. If they don’t, I have to search for it, which can take several minutes.

Here is a short list of easy things I believe we all should be doing to become more searchable and to promote ourselves-not in a spammy way, but in a professional, appropriate, and helpful way.

1. Email Signature (as mentioned above)

As you can see above, I include a tagline and links to my LinkedIn profile, this blog, and my Twitter account. Once I have a website up, I will link to that, which will include my blog. You can certainly include a phone number, an email address, Facebook page, or any of your other online accounts. I always thought including email was redundant. But it isn’t incorrect to do so.

2. Comment on Blogs

When you read blogs, do you leave comments at the end?  I make it a point to comment on blogs for a number of reasons.

  • It is a way to acknowledge that you appreciate the effort someone took to write that post. We all can look at statistics to see that people are visiting our sites, but it is the comments that really provide the proof that folks are reading and thinking about what they read–that we actually had an impact with our writing.
  • Great conversations can result from commenting. It gets me thinking and understanding the issues more thoroughly or from a different perspective.
  • Commenting on blogs increases my “search-ability” on Google. Yes, really. Comments show up and move you higher up in search.

3. Complete Profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn and Elsewhere

A Twitter profile without a bio or a link to a site means I generally don’t follow them back. That bio and site link give me back ground information so I know a bit more about who he or she is. Plus, why skip an opportunity to promote your website or your blog? LinkedIn is also an incredible way to promote yourself appropriately. Websites, blogposts, volunteer experiences, skills. People are looking at your profile. Why withhold information that may help them hire you or promote your work for you?

There are most certainly many other actions we can all take to promote ourselves without appearing promotional. What did I leave off of this list? Remember, if you comment, it’s great for your “search-ability.”  😉

About a year ago, my virtual friend (not virtual pretend, but virtual, we connected on LinkedIn and until recently, had never met) Chris Jarvis told me to read The Tipping Point. I had heard of the book but didn’t know much about it.  Chris told me I was a connector as described in the book.  Little did I know how right he was.

I don’t know if it is genetic or if connectors are created.  But I do know that I just LOVE connecting.  I have always been a connector for as long as I can remember.  With the advent of new/social media like Twitter, the networking game has been taken to an entirely new playing field.  For me, it is about connecting with people who teach me new things, inspire me to do more and who open my mind to a world I might otherwise not know about.

All of this virtual connecting is allowing me to create some very interesting relationships with people with whom I might never have crossed paths if not for social media.  I have developed incredibly close ties with people who I have never met in real life.  Many of these relationships are as important to me as those with my very best friends.  I know that this may sound quite odd, especially for those who are not familiar with social media.  It sounds a bit crazy to me too!

Recently, I had the opportunity to turn several of those virtual relationships into real life encounters.  The Cause Marketing Forum was in Chicago.  I am not a cause marketing person (don’t even play one on tv) and like many conferences, this one was a little pricey for a non-marketing just hung out the shingle nonprofit consultant.  Several of my virtual friends were in town for the conference. Fortunately, one of these friends suggested I come downtown at the end of the conference to meet with her.  Without that invitation, I probably would not have had the nerve to “crash the party.”

I really enjoyed reconnecting with some Chicagoans and meeting great Twitter friends in person that day.  I have found that meeting people in real life has a profound impact on the depth of the relationship.  But honestly, meeting Chris Jarvis, who has felt like a dear friend for the past year since we first connected virtually, made the entire afternoon surreal.  It seems as though Chris and I have been friends forever.  To speak with him in person for the first time just didn’t make sense.  I literally could not wrap my brain around the experience.

Just recently, “Social Media Today” posted a piece on their blog titled, “Social networks are redefining what a friend or a relationship really is.”  In this post, it was suggested that words like friend may become less meaningful as it becomes easier and easier to vastly expand our networks.  However, I would hate to casually dismiss my virtual relationships with people as not “real” just because we met online.  These networking methods really are just tools that facilitate creating wonderful relationships with people.  Ultimately some become equally meaningful to those relationships I establish through more traditional methods.  I met Chris on LinkedIn. We only met in real life after an entire year of engaging online. But my friendship with him is one I treasure and is certainly of equal value to those in my non-virtual world.

So, if you are one of those people who is resisting trying out some of these new tools, I dare say you are missing out.  I can’t imagine my life right now without the incredible relationships I have gained through social media.  It’s difficult for me to envision trudging through this past year of unemployment without that important community!  So thank you to my new friends of this new world.  You know who you are, but perhaps not how much I value your friendship!

(Be sure to check out this new blog on CNN.com called Netiquette that will help us figure out networking etiquette. )

*Thanks to Bonnie Koenig (another GREAT relationship in my network) for inspiring the title.