My father is a master conversationalist. He follows the first rule of a gentleman: Don’t talk about yourself. I’ve observed my Father over the years, and he is very effective at deflecting questions. That’s not to say that he won’t answer questions, but he always gets back to listening to others more than talking about himself. This is a lost art in my opinion, and nowhere is this more apparent than online.
This past weekend I had a conversation with the president of a successful PR firm and she asked me, “How do I get all the good I am doing for clients out there through social media? I don’t want to just talk about myself, and say ‘look at all the great press I got my client,’ but at the same time, I want people to know.”
First, I’d like to applaud her for having the presence of mind to resist blasting out every success to an uninterested audience; Second, I’ll tell you what I told her—Talking about yourself and your own successes will almost always fall flat because generally speaking that isn’t information people need. It doesn’t help solve their problems. Your friends will send you back messages of congratulations, but they already love you.
So how do you get the word out about your success? The best way is to have others speak highly about you.
This is an interesting phenomenon. We don’t trust people that are congratulating themselves but if someone else compliments them we are much more likely to believe it.
So, how do you share without appearing self-promotional?
The first and most obvious solution is to simply help and promote others around you and wait for them to pay it forward.
The second is to use amplifiers. Amplifiers can take many different forms. It could be a news site like Forbes, National Law Journal, or The Huffington Post posting an article you’ve written. The other type of amplifier is a lynchpin that has a large targeted network in the social media world. If you can get a few of these people to share positive information about you, you’ve struck gold.
The third and final way is just to share information about yourself or your content no more than 20% of the time — 80% should be about other people and great content.
There is an additional tricky issue: Why would these sites or these people want to talk about you? There’s only one answer. You give them something valuable to share with their network. You’ve written a white paper, completed a research project, or simply written an article that is helpful. There’s no better way to convince others to promote you than to give them ammunition in the form of great content.
Creating great content requires the ability to listen to your customers; Seek to understand before you seek to be understood—Just like my father always listens far more than he talks in conversations.
The amazing thing about my Dad is that people always say, “I had a great conversation with your father,” even though they were likely doing most of the talking. It’s the same online. If you do a better job of listening, eventually people will care about what you have to say. When you keep talking about yourself to a minimum, the conversation will be far more enjoyable for everybody.