I remember at one of the hospital I worked at when I was an every day director how, at least once a week, there was this one employee who used to stop by my office and tell me everything that she had done during that week. I always complimented her and I think it made her feel good, but every time she left I would wonder why she was stopping by to tell me some of these things because often they weren’t all that big a deal.

Let Mitchell Handle It
Let me handle it 😉

The longer I work for myself, the more I start to understand what her purpose was and why she was doing it. One of the realities of independent consulting is that you’re always having to find new ways to promote yourself so that people can find you, hopefully evaluate you and talk to you, and if all goes well hires you. It’s one of those things where we have to forget what we were told as children about not bragging about our accomplishments.

There’s a fine line between informing people what it is you do and how well you can do it and bragging, and yet I have found that the fine line depends on who’s doing the reading. On a blog post I wrote on my other blog yesterday, I mentioned that one of the things I discovered while doing a brief bit of research is that there are people who will say that you are bragging only because you happen to be talking about yourself, or talking about something that you thought was a pretty good accomplishment.

I have to admit being surprised that one of the people was upset that the author of a book that I happen to like was bragging about the fact that she had lost 100 pounds. I’m thinking that’s something to be proud of, not castigate a person about because they happen to talk about it.

The fine line thing is something that we all deal with to some degree. One of the problems I have is that in the two main industries in which I do business, one has a lot of independent people who are out there trying to get the same clients that I am, while in the other there are not as many people who I’m trying to reach that are all that versed in social media.

It’s a pretty insular group, to the extent that I spend a lot of time trying to reach out to people that I can almost never get through to. When I do, sometimes they’re not sure what I’m telling them because, even though they’re in the position to hire, they don’t have the background most of the time to understand how much value I can bring to them.

At that point I’m stuck with throwing out numbers to highlight my accomplishments, that will either look like I’m bragging or that I must be making it up because the numbers can seem a bit incredible. Even though the numbers are real, it’s sometimes hard for people who aren’t used to seeing such things to actually believe they are possible.

It’s an interesting line that I have to figure out because there are times when I believe I’m over promoting and there are times when I know that I’m under promoting.

TED Conference via Compfight

For instance, I have every post from this blog automatically go to LinkedIn; it also automatically goes to Twitter. When I check my statistics on both of these after the face, I can see where it shows me there were at least 100 people on Linkedin who saw my post there, and another 75 to 100 people who shared my posts on Twitter. However, since I also know that the entire article isn’t on Linkedin or Twitter, I check Google Analytics to see how many of those people actually came to the blog to read the post.

There’s very few people who ever follow through on either platform. The same goes for twitter, where I may have anywhere from 50 to 100 people free sharing my link, but few of those people actually ever click on the link and come to read the posts.

This is distressing because, being someone who likes to believe I’m pretty well versed in social media and social media marketing, I realize that I’m failing to a major degree because people seem the love the headlines but don’t necessarily have the interest on going any further to check out the article. Also, since I’m putting out a whole bunch of articles on a bunch of blogs, including articles here on Linkedin, the idea that people may be seeing a headline that’s appealing but not reading anything doesn’t do me a lot of good because that will never translate into anything that’s monetarily positive for me, let alone helping me with my publicity or influence.

This doesn’t mean that I stop doing what I’m doing. What it means is that what I have been considering as my fine line may not actually be a fine line at all. It may be that my perception of how much I might be bothering people isn’t even close to what it should be.

Last week I read a quote from Guy Kawasaki who said that if you’re not irritating enough people on social media you’re not doing it right. Well, I don’t want to get to the point of irritating anybody either on social media or in the business world, but without a big name behind me and having to totally rely on myself for my income, it does mean that I might have to step up in my efforts to make myself better known for my own sustainability.

My thinking is that if I have to do this for my own survival, how many other people who are either independent consultants or employees working at a company and hoping to rise up the ranks need to do the same type of thing for their sustainability. As a leader, are you actually paying real attention and taking notes whenever possible so that you can remember who the potential qualified next leaders of your company might be? For that matter, are you making sure that you’re documenting your own successes in case that’s one of your goals?

It’s just something to think about. In the meantime, if you start seeing more of me than you thought you were seeing before… Well, I’ll apologize for that now. 🙂

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