Self-promotion in a world of self-promoters

Are you ready to be your biggest fan?

If you want to succeed in media or any other venue where your name is your brand – comedy, acting and more – then you better be ready. Retain that humility in person-to-person interaction, but forget about it when you near the professional realm.

In the spring, I was proud to be named among the 100 most promising young journalists in the country by UWire – how thorough the list was and whether I truly deserved the honor are for another discussion entirely.

I tell this story because the lesson it taught me about self-promtion. Because, after first catching wind of UWire’s hopes to find the best young reporters from a college media blog, the process turned into a competition about who would scream the loudest about their accomplishments.

I filled out a nomination form, though friend Sean Blanda – who also earned the honor – and I were lucky enough to do this for each other to avoid complete self-involvement. What’s more, in addition to recommendations and references, the process involved additional nominations.

An e-mail from a product manager at UWire made me cringe.

The more nominations, the better his or her chance is of getting chosen.

Now beyond just being nominated, you have to get your Aunt to do so, too? Is this Prom King voting? I decided against soliciting supporters, so perhaps I made it just out of luck – or maybe others in the running found it distasteful. The point is that you have to figure out how far you will go to promote yourself because this is a world and we are competing in industries full of self-promoters.

My alma mater Temple University is trying to add a flair of noteriety to their annual Diamond Awards, which I have proudly won twice, each time I was available and eligible. I was nominated by professors, but then I had to track down others to recommend me. Where does professional persistence end and self-congratulation begin?

A professor suggested I pursue a post as commencement speaker for my graduate in May. I thought I could do a fairly respectable job, so I applied and was awarded the great honor, but the process involved bothers me – pursuing the support of others, forcing them to write, speak or stand on my behalf.

It’s something I grappled with often in college and will likely do more in the professional world.

Understand, no one who knows me will say anything less than that I am sure of what I can do, but I don’t believe it would be accurate to suggest I am a lover of self-promotion.

This very Web site, this blog, it was a conscious choice of the benefits it could offer me professionally outweighing the seeming self-involvement of it all. I hope it’s working.

Anyone else?