We live in an era of almost constant self-promotion across multiple platforms. We also live in an era of hackers, fat-free cheesecake, and the use of the word “platform.” In short, it may not be the best of times, but it’s the 21st century hand we’ve been dealt.
A friend of mine is performing very soon at Carnegie Hall. That friend’s name is Alison Krauss. See what I did there? It isn’t really Alison, but I wanted to demonstrate how important it is to use any opportunity to name-drop and thereby self-promote.
My “friend” was being pretty laid back about trumpeting this prestigious gig, which I thought was very 2010 of her—1998, even. I explained that it would be best to work the Carnegie Hall show into virtually every conversation, whether in person, on the phone, or online. The next gig after Carnegie Hall (or “The Hall”) could be Bluegrass Night at Sal’s Pizza Pub and a self-promotion golden moment will have been lost.
Precisely how you make this significant event part of your “narrative” (that word being another unpleasant feature of this era), however, is very important. We’ve all known clumsy self-promoters. They’re all over social media and the comments section of Bluegrass Today.
Here’s an example of what I’m taking about: Let’s say I’ve just posted something personal, like a picture of my friend’s wedding, saying something like, “I’m so glad to see my good friends Mike and Cecelia tie the knot. What a beautiful couple, inside and out. The wedding cake was pretty good, too!” Clumsy Self-Promoting Friend A then chimes in with this comment: “Hey Chris, my new single, Mama Made Shine, drops on Friday, click here to order! Can’t wait to hear it on the radio! LOL”
This just lacks finesse and shows that either Clumsy Self-promoting Friend (CSPF) A failed to read the post, or just read it and disregarded it completely. Here’s a much better, more respectful, and thus more effective strategy: Under the same wedding post, add this comment: “Wishing the very best to the happy couple! It so happens that I have a song coming out this week about a happy couple, in which the mother of the family is the one making moonshine. Check it out if you’re interested (post link). Maybe Cecelia could use the recipe if times get tough down the road LOL.”
This demonstrates that CSPF A is engaged in the subject but also manages to turn it to his or her advantage.
Turning again to the Carnegie Hall show, here are some right and wrong ways to work this into conversations:
Checking out at a supermarket:
Checkout clerk: “Plastic bags okay?”
You: “I’m performing at Carnegie all next month, you know. I brought my own grocery bags.”
Checkout clerk: “Plastic bags okay?”
You: “I brought my own, thanks. I love shopping here. It’s such a classic institution (note: you can say that even if you’re at Target). It’s sort of like the Carnegie Hall of big box chains, don’t you think? Funny coincidence, I’m actually performing at Carnegie Hall in a few weeks.”
At a ballgame:
Wrong: (Addressing total stranger in the seat next to you) “Can you believe I’m performing at Carnegie Hall soon? It’s going to AWESOME! Hey, you dropped some peanuts.”
Right: “It’s hard to imagine how much practice it takes to get to play at the major league level, isn’t it? Of course you know the old joke where the guy asks somebody on the streets of New York ‘Excuse me, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?’ and he answers, ‘practice!’ You haven’t heard that? Well it’s a funny coincidence but in just a few weeks . . .”
At the doctor’s office:
Wrong: “Hey Doc (not all doctors like to be addressed this way; some prefer “sawbones”), did I mention that I’m about to play Carnegie Hall? I’d get you a guest pass, but then again you’re not ever going to give me a free checkup, so you’re probably on your own there.”
Right: “My health has been good, although I’m not sleeping as well as usual. It could be just the excitement about the upcoming Carnegie Hall show. Have I mentioned that to you?”
Last, but not least, the ever-familiar Facebook post:
Wrong: “I can’t believe I get to play at Carnegie Hall coming up soon!!! So this is what it’s like when dreams come true LOL. Yay me!!!”
Right: “Wow. Thanksgiving is approaching, and I have so much to be thankful for: my health, this beautiful place I get to call home, my banjo, the music of Flatt & Scruggs and Punch Brothers (get bluegrass fans across the spectrum on your side), good friends and mostly good family, my upcoming Carnegie Hall show, my dog Skippy, the beautiful snow outside. Feeling blessed.”
That manages to slyly include it in a list, like the embarrassing item you need at the drug store. In all cases above, though, the idea is to work it into the conversation not have it be the conversation. It may still be annoying in the end, but isn’t that what living in these times is all about? Accepting that you and others around you are just going to be a little annoying sometimes? This way you’ll at least win points for attempting to be subtle.