In my role as a contributor for the newspapers, I come across a multitude of people during my assignments. My experiences have been generally positive. However, one experience stood out and it was with a man who refused to reveal his age, marital status or even his full name. He insisted that he only wanted to speak about the project he was involved in. What hit a raw nerve, though, was when he said; “I don’t see why the Malaysian public need [sic.] to know any of this info [sic]. No need to show off.”
If you have a product or service that you’d like to sell and you’re looking for publicity of any sort, look around you at the biggest names in your industry. Pick out the ones you consider credible experts. Now ask yourself how you came to know about these people’s work? Did you read about them? Did you hear them speak? If so, where, when and how? Or, did someone tell you about them? If so, where did these people hear about them? The point here is that these people came to be regarded as experts in their industry because they were able to successfully showcase their work or themselves. The manner in which they told people about their products and services was by sharing something of themselves. They did this by granting interviews, writing articles, writing a blog, joining competitions, hosting competitions and so much more.
When you ‘show off’ in a proper manner, there is no bragging, hurting or humiliating involved. Your main aim should be to showcase your work in a dignified and appropriate way. One of the easiest ways, of course, is to tell a story.
For example, say that you’ve become an expert in providing independent financial advice to the public. Now, one of your pet peeves is that many members of the public, in their ignorance, visit a banking institution only to be given advice that is detrimental to their financial portfolio. You are annoyed that these people did not come to see you in the first place. You would like to promote your services to prevent such a thing happening.
In this digital day and age, one of the easiest ways you can promote your work is to set up a website. Furthermore, many websites are also blogs today, which gives you the added advantage of making your online presence possibly dynamic. What this means is that you can write articles (or blog posts) regularly to emphasise what you can do. (Incidentally, both Raspal Seni and Madhavi Ghare have created eBooks and blog posts to show you how to set up a website using WordPress.)
Let’s take the example above. Write a story about how your new client went to the banking institution and was, effectively, fleeced of her money. Start by using elements from writing and storytelling to give a description of the client, the general atmosphere of the setting and so on. Then, write about the conflict this person felt and follow up with the remedies (or in this case, the lack thereof) that were offered to her. Then comes the ‘showing off’ bit. However, do not take a ‘This is what I would do’ stance. Instead, write in third person and say something along the lines of, ‘Had Madam X visited someone who could give her independent advice, the outcome of this entire scenario might be completely different.’ Such blog posts and articles serve to boost your credibility without being arrogant.
You can expand on this by ‘showing off yourself’. What this means, of course, is speaking in public and this can include making presentations or giving media interviews. One of the biggest drawbacks of this is that when you invite people into your world, they might realise that all is not as it seems. To illustrate, let’s go back to the very start of this article. The rude man I interviewed was the leader and the face of the organisation, yes. But I also got to observe how atrocious his English is and how badly he treated his staff.
This is not to say that you should not speak to the press. In fact, some of the best interviews I’ve ever had were with people who couldn’t speak properly. They left out words, they mixed their speech with Malay words (in one case, Chinese and another, French). However, they were humble, admitted their misgivings about speaking in English and focused on showing off their products and services. They were wonderfully authentic and genuinely wanted to share their stories with me. Where necessary, they sought the help of interpreters.
It is, therefore, absolutely fine to show off your work. You just need to follow a plan, stick to it and you will find that prospective customers will know just how good your products and services are.
Aneeta Sundararaj has published a fictionalised account of her encounter with the very rude man mentioned in this article (a story called ‘The Payoff’) in her eBook, ‘Stranger Than Fiction 4’. She is also the creator and manager of her popular website, ‘How To Tell A Great Story’.