The fear of digital self promotion

As a master’s student, I worked at a resource and tutoring centre on campus that was run by our residence department. Every year around exams, I would have to cold call students to let them know their parents had purchased an exam care package for them, and where they could pick it up. Unfortunately, not a lot of them knew what our resource centre did…and so I got a lot of hang ups and annoyed responses to my ‘Hello this is Kelsey calling from [insert resource centre here]’. People hate being cold called. We dislike having our meals interrupted by telemarketers trying to sell us things, or random people coming to our doors spreading a message, or wanting to inspect the ducts. 

We don’t like to be bothered or intruded on by things we see as outside our business or personal lives. Even if that Rogers rep is going to save you 15$ a month on your internet, you still feel like raging when they call and interrupt the Bachelor.

Enter technology: Now we have a variety of ways we can be bombarded by people trying to sell us things we aren’t interested in. Instead of a cold call, we get Shopify emails, Linkedin popups and Facebook ads triggered from status updates. We get spambots tweeting us, texts from our phone companies reminding us to pay our bills, and any other number of intrusions from the digital world.

Now, as a digital educator and researcher, most of my work is performed in a digital context. I write emails to colleagues, g chat with students, and tweet fellow academics from around the world when trying to solve a research problem. I also teach workshops on digital citizenship and digital identities to K-12 students, university students, and teachers. As I branch into the realm of ‘consultant’, I recognize that my promotion of self, in a digital context, veers into this cold call behaviour we all so loathe. My Linkedin suggests my skills to anyone remotely related to my field of work, my face pops up when anyone Googles digital identities, and now I will unfortunately bombard my friends and family with this blog about my fear of digital promotion.

I have spent the morning ‘self promoting’ by emailing various school boards and police agencies about my workshops on digital citizenship. I have struggled on just how to conduct myself digitally while doing this. It isn’t easy for me to self promote even in the best circumstances, while meeting potential clients and colleagues in person. The marketing of consultation is a self promotion minefield. All interactions reflect on my ability to be the best education consultant for the job. I am still struggling with the negotiation of how exactly to advertise and promote my skill set, but I think that is the beauty of the digital age: we are all learning how. It’s why I do what I do; technology, digital identity…it’s an ever expanding, ever changing realm of knowledge, one where you have to be comfortable at adapting and learning as you go, always.

I am really interested to hear what others have experienced in the field of academia, consultation work, or digital self promotion; what tricks and ideas would you like to share with others? I have found the best trick so far for me has been to really build up my digital presence to create a positive digital footprint, by which others can see my skill set and success in my field thus far, as a non-intrusive way to digitally self promote.

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