The core premise of authentic self promotion is that showing up, serving, and thriving are interrelated. Promotion, or putting yourself forward, is part of showing up and is essential to having a successful business. Having a successful business is essential to being and sustaining an offer of service. In other words, you cannot serve if you do not take care of business.
Authenticity is the cornerstone of effective, sustainable self promotion because being authentic draws on a renewable resource, i.e., your core values and strengths. Put it all together, and you have authentic promotion.
Authentic self promotion is grounded in the conviction that you have something of unique value to offer the world and that you are willing to discover how to embody that offer, to show up and serve, and to thrive in the process.
Authentic self promotion reconciles values of service and integrity with the tools and practices of effective small business marketing. Authentic promotion of your small business rejects the easy dismissal of marketing and sales as shallow, manipulative, and inauthentic. Instead, authentic self promotion claims that marketing and sales are vehicles for creating enduring relationships and delivering substantial value. If you choose the path of authentic self promotion, you will learn that marketing your small business effectively will challenge you to evolve continually as a person and as a professional.
Authenticity is intimately involved with creativity, evolution, and change. It is closely allied with the notion of authorship, thus of owning and being accountable for one’s actions. Authenticity acknowledges that we are always creating or writing our life stories. Expressed in business, such authenticity will step up to the challenge of making strong, clear, valid offers to prospects who are likely to benefit from those offers.
When we do business in an authentic fashion, we understand that we will be affected and even changed by the processes of doing business. Authenticity is dynamic. When you extend yourself authentically in the world, you expect an authentic response — one that may touch you deeply and influence your future decisions. There are risks, then, in authenticity.
Egocentric business practices, on the other hand, declare, “I don’t need to answer to anyone. I have no intention of being changed or affected by you as we do business together. Either you like me or you don’t. You’ll either find me or you won’t.”
Often this egocentricity is masked by a pseudo-authenticity, one that pretends to stand for immutable values and unassailable principles but that is really a declaration of self-absorption, “My way or the highway.” A better test for authenticity is whether or not we are willing to be affected by our transactions. The authentic expression of our deepest values and most closely held principles will always open us to the risk and blessings of new possibilities.
Authentic marketing and self promotion says, “I’m here to connect with you. I expect that we will both be changed in the course of our relationship. I am willing to discover you and myself in new ways as we do business. Come on down, let’s see what we can create together.”
I propose that the very real excesses and evils of some business practices can be countered in a powerful way by independent professionals and artists who use their businesses as a vehicle for showing up, serving, and thriving. It’s about more than making a living. Though, unless you do make a living, you will not be able to express your gifts to the fullest.
Authentic self promotion is about trying on business and marketing practices and adapting them to fit your values, your resources, and your unique gifts. It’s about having enough integrity and courage to welcome the inevitable breakdowns as occasions for learning and platforms for future success. In order to be truly authentic — in other words, to authenticate our values and our standards — we must act in the world. We must show up to serve, and we must stop pretending that commerce is something the bad guys do. In this way, we will shine a light on unfamiliar or inadequate practices for the sake of devising better practices.