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Many people don’t enjoy talking about themselves, which poses a dilemma because as business owners, the promotion of a business is often closely linked with the telling of a personal story. Here’s a look at the skills needed to promote your business and personal brand.

Two conversations this week prompted me to write a blog post on why many of us don’t like to talk about ourselves. This is an interesting dilemma because, as business owners, we need to promote the business and, possibly, ourselves, and promotion is all about telling customers about your story.

Last week my six-year-old son’s class hosted the school assembly. He stood up in front of his fellow students and mumbled into the microphone the same words five of his classmates had said before him, “I’m proud of my writing”. I laughed when telling a friend about this and then mused on why he would take the ‘sheep’ option of following, when he could have said anything he was proud of. My friend suggested confidence, and I agreed, but she also said she thought we weren’t taught self promotion skills anymore.

While interviewing a farmer later in the week this conversation surfaced again. She was happy to talk to me about anything I asked- until she was being “interviewed”. Even her voice and body language changed when I started asking questions. She mentioned she felt uncomfortable talking about herself and said it was a “generational thing” (she was in her early 60s).

So why do we avoid telling our own stories? Why is it we are happier to promote someone else’s idea before our own? Yes there can be confidence issues, but that shouldn’t be the case because you are the expert on your business. After all, you know why you started it and how you got it to the point it is at today. As for the generational argument, Generation X and Y entrepreneurs may be better versed in some marketing techniques, but not all. There are still many who avoid speaking about themselves.

So we come back to the idea of teaching the skills needed to promote your business and your personal brand. Clearly, I need to spend some time helping my son feel comfortable speaking in front of others and then practicing these skills until he feels comfortable.

What can you do to promote your business?

•  Ask questions about others’ businesses to see how you can help

•  Be prepared with quick answers to questions that often crop up in your industry

•  Use an event, like tax time, or a season, such as winter, as a lead in to explain how your business solves relevant problems

•  Fake it until you make it – I heard this phrase a while ago, but it really works. If you act confidently by walking tall, speaking well and putting yourself in situations where you have to speak, then eventually it just happens

•  Practice – start with a few events or networking opportunities to build your courage through practice, and soon you’ll be signing yourself up for more.

What do you do when you have to talk about yourself?


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Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Johanna has more than 17 years experience as a journalist and public relations consultant. Her experience includes writing for newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites in Australia and the United Kingdom on a number of topics including business, news, parenting and IT. Johanna draws on her business knowledge - as an entrepreneur running two businesses and through her past work experience - to advise clients on the best methods to gain publicity and tell their story effectively.

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