Your Words Speak Loudest of All

*hops onto the soapbox*

Self-promotion is a challenge. Do it well, and it can be quite to your benefit. Overdo it and it can blow up in your face in all sorts of interesting ways. Fail to do it or do it poorly and find others wondering why it is you have a job, what it is you do, why they’d want to work with you, whether or not you’re worth keeping about, so on, so forth.

In this day and age of ubiquitous social networking, self-promotion is a little easier. If there is a challenge I’ve overcome, I can blog about it (usually). If there is a triumph, celebration often comes with pictures and online cartwheels. If there is a failure, hopefully that can be expressed with lessons learned. I can do these things relatively immediately and in my own words and at my own word count discretion. Certainly I’d love to put every triumph in one of the professional journals, but that is highly unlikely to happen and those have the delay of going to press and requiring a subscription–a potential barrier in our instant update world. 

Tone, as it is with nearly all human interaction, can be everything. Certainly we don’t always want to be in one camp or the other: the squeakingly hyper-happy cheerleaders or the ultra-emo-Eeyores,* we’re human and feel a wide range of emotion. In the view of professional self-promotion though, a spoonful of moderation isn’t evil. It’s no secret I self-moderate here: my boss, my director, and my mother–as well as friends, professional contacts, coworkers, and potential future employers/employees– read this. It doesn’t mean I need to be untrue to myself, just aware of my audience. If someone writes me off because of their personal hatred of hedgehogs, that’s out of my hands. If they write me off because I consistently present myself poorly in an online setting, that’s something I need to be worrying about and actively changing. 

For this I believe:

If all you ever tell me is how you are a continual failure, eventually I will believe it and it could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, despite potential evidence to the contrary.  

Your words have such an effect on your present and your future. If one is confronted day to day or following a web search/social network perusal with nothing but a perpetual woe-is-me-athon, your name becomes synonymous with a slightly depressed feeling, an eyeroll, and a quick search for the block, mute, hide, or delete key.

I don’t always seek to surround myself with optimists. I have a sarcasm streak about a mile too wide for that. Yet I do look for people who are inspiring, truthful, and trudging onwards, even in the face of adversity.  I’m happy to be there through the good times and the bad; it’s when we end up miring in the pit of unending over-shared sorrows that I’m turned off, and I can’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

Don’t make me heave a deep sigh whenever I see your name.

*Was I the only one who was a much bigger fan of Eeyore than of Piglet?

/end soap box

2 Comments

  1. Comment by Carin:

    I was always a huge fan of Eeyore. Unfortunately, my 2-year-younger sister was definitely a Tigger. It's exhausting to live next door to Tigger. Thankfully, she's the only one! 🙂

  2. Comment by Gina:

    Thanks for the interesting post. I agree that a person’s online persona can color my perception about them before I’ve met them in person.

    As a bit of a side-note, I wonder if the lack of an online profile really does hurt a librarian’s career. I struggle with whether or not to actively promote “my brand” on the internet. I don’t have a personal domain or an online portfolio/CV & I find this statement from your post quite disheartening:

    “Fail to do it or do it poorly and find others wondering why it is you have a job, what it is you do, why they’d want to work with you, whether or not you’re worth keeping about, so on, so forth.”

    Privacy concerns have prevented me from being more public about my life & career on the internet, and I’m just not ready to start putting more information online than I already do. I think the most cogent argument I’ve heard is that even if a person does not have an online profile, there is already info about them on the web. So would you rather have an official profile where you have some control over how information about you is presented? Or are you willing to let people draw their own conclusions about you based on the fragmented pages they are able to find when they google your name? A good argument, but I’m still not sure I’m ready to take the plunge. I enjoyed the post though, thanks!