Every now and then a negative thought passes through my mind and I find myself reflecting on it moments later. The negativity isn’t always directed inward. Sometimes it’s a reaction to somebody else. Perhaps something they said or an observation I made. Whatever the case, I like to keep my thoughts and reactions positive. But sometimes, I experience a bit of dissonance and have to seek out one of my friends to make sense of it. I had one of those occasions come up earlier this week. I’m still navigating the thoughts in my head, so bear with me as I try to weave a web of logic.
Have you ever met someone who you liked initially, but as their intentions became clear you found yourself suddenly not liking them so much anymore? That’s sorta what’s been happening to me online…repeatedly. I keep “meeting” people only to find out that they have ulterior motives — or at least it feels that way. Particularly when it comes to Twitter and Facebook. Let me give you an example:
@somebody22 sends me a pleasant introductory message. I respond in kind. @somebody22 proceeds to engage with me a few times. It seems like we have a lot in common so I follow them back or add them as a friend. Once I do so, the level of engagement dwindles and the links to their articles and events start to show up…everyday. In fact, it turns out that most of their interactions with people are introductory pleasantries followed by aggressive self-promotion. @somebody22 gets unfollowed or defriended since I don’t like the smell of duplicity, but their name keeps showing up in my timeline because their efforts to aggressively network are paying off. I get slightly irritated with each mention. Not because they’re achieving success, but because of how they’re going about it. In my mind, I know I can’t knock the hustle and it shouldn’t be a big deal. But for whatever reason, when I see their name I cringe. And it’s at that point that the dissonance sets in and I phone (gchat) a friend to untangle my thoughts.
That’s what happened to me the other day. Since chatting with my friend, I realized it’s not much different than what happens offline. You meet someone. They seem cool. You exchange contact information then next thing you know they’re inviting you to a pyramid scheme event or trying to get you on their promotional email list. Again, you can’t knock their hustle but you feel tricked. Your relationship with them is soiled, but it doesn’t matter to because for every five trashed relationships, they end up with one that pays off.
There are several roads to success. And at the end of each, it looks completely different. I believe in building relationships with like-minded people because they energize me and I know I can add value to their lives. When I meet someone that could be a great connection, my first thought isn’t how will they help me succeed. It’s how can we build a sustainable relationship and help each other reach our goals. And by goals, I don’t necessarily mean something monumental. It could be as simple as a phone call for a referral or to bounce a potential idea. I don’t ask them to buy my Roxio-burned CD. I don’t ask them to publish my article. I’m not trying to get them on the email list to buy my book. If they decide to do any of those things, it’s because they inquired or noticed what I do. I let my work speak for itself.
There are a lot of people out there today that choose the other route. They choose to speak for their work. They push their articles like rappers push links to their mixtapes and promoters push links to their parties. They’re constantly reaching out to people to be seen and heard, and it works. Their hustle results in new opportunities. They’re not afraid to ask and it pays off. And even though I understand the concept of business development and hustling to make things happen, I still can’t get with some of the methods to success I see today. I’m a firm believer that if you just focus on your work, the right people will notice. Obviously this doesn’t work in all situations, but it works enough for me to keep believing it.
I’ve wondered if I’d be further along if I took the other approach. Would I already have quit my day job and been able to focus on this stuff full time? Would I already have some cushy gig in new media? Maybe. Maybe not. I just know I’d rather my talents speak for themselves except when asked to speak directly about them. Like I said, I can’t knock the hustle out there, but I just can’t get with it. Now I have a few questions to ask you:
Does it matter if you’re successful because you’ve honed your craft, produced work that people have found out about and come to love, or because you’ve aggressively networked and pushed your work upon them? At what point does self-promotion become a turn off? How much asking is too much asking? Does it even matter if you’re still getting the results? What’s your personal philosophy on achieving success?
I’m just saying,
Admin Note: Just a heads up that the next SBM NYC event is scheduled for Friday, July 27th at Empire Room in Manhattan. More details to come later this week. No, this is not the same type of self-promotion as discussed in this post!