How to Self Promote without Being a Jerk

Six months ago, I asked readers, “Is it possible to genuinely be interested in the needs of others, and still promote yourself?” That article generated so much interest that I decided the subject deserved more than 450 words, and I wrote a short book that came out three days ago.

The title of the book is – you guessed it – How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk.

But let me step back for a minute and share my perspective that most self-promotion is more destructive than productive. Blab about yourself day after day and you’ll soon convince others that you are a self-obsessed blowhard. Tweet only about yourself and you’ll end up with 137 followers (apologies to anyone who actually has 137 followers.)

Still, we all face a dilemma. Most of us live and work in free market economies based on the principles of supply and demand. If no one knows about your strengths, you won’t be in demand. It’s painfully hard to earn a living when no one knows who you are or what you are capable of doing. So everyone needs to engage in some amount of self-promotion, even if it is to accurately state your accomplishments on a resume and in cover letters.

My solution starts with this sentence: be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

Notice I didn’t say anything about stuffing your press releases with keywords or airbrushing your photos so you look younger/older/thinner/wiser. That’s superficial stuff compared to who you are and how you treat others. Effective self-promotion revolves around being an honorable human being who genuinely wants to help others.

Time to stop telling. Let me show you…

This link will allow you to download a free PDF copy of my book. Even though the book costs $9.99 on Amazon, you can read the entire book for free.

It is not a typical book. First, it’s very short; you can read it in an hour. Second, it’s available only as an ebook.

If you like the book and find it valuable, I ask that you then buy a copy of the ebook on Amazon as a gift for someone else.

Thus, in the spirit of my book, I am giving you my work as a gift, in the hope that you then pay it forward and give a gift to others… but only if you find it valuable.

Let’s break down the differences between what I’m doing and what most “self-promoters” do…

My first step is to be generous: I’m giving before asking anything in return, and I’m also giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Do you think that people will take advantage of me, that they will profit from my work without paying me a cent? This does not bother me in the least; I have no desire to work with people who don’t treat others fairly, and it does not matter to me if they get something from me for free.

The people I care about are those who genuinely care about other people, and these folks will never take advantage of me. My goal with them is to lower their risk to zero; if they don’t get value from my work, it should cost them nothing at all.

My second step is to have faith in my expertise: You get to read my whole book before you even consider whether you want to buy a copy for someone else. Without confidence in my own expertise, I’d be foolish to make such an offer. To emulate my approach, you will need to be equally comfortable with your own offerings.

You’re not just reading a book, you are adopting its approach: Before I “get paid,” you will have to actually put into action the principles I am promoting. By buying a copy of my book for someone else, you will be paying it forward while you also recognize the value of what I gave you as a gift.

This is win/win/win: If all goes well, you will get useful information you can apply immediately. Someone you know will get the same, in the form of a free gift. I will eventually make a sale. In fact, I’m betting I will make many more sales than if I adopted the traditional approach of “Buy my book before midnight today!”

Is this article self-promotional? Absolutely. But I’m trying to demonstrate that there is nothing wrong with spreading the word about your work, as long as you make damn sure that you only profit after you actually help other people.

Bruce Kasanoff is @BruceKasanoff on Twitter, and his web site is

Image: CanStockPhoto

Posted by:Bruce Kasanoff