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No Shame in Self-Promotion

Self-promoting scientists?  Usually, strategic marketing and promotion skills are reserved for the business world, for businesses and entrepreneurs.  Not for scientists. They don’t have a brand, they aren’t selling anything for consumers to buy, so they have no reason to self-promote.

… Or do they?

Many people are doing amazing research. I personally love hearing about it, I’m sure the public would love to know about it as well as other aspiring scientists, and government and philanthropic funding agencies should know about it.  Government funding is becoming more scarce nowadays and scientists are forced to think more creatively about getting noticed. We can no longer hide behind our beakers and stick to our solitary interests expecting fame and wealth to come from only NSF or NIH. We have to embrace the attitude and spirit of promotion and marketing and we can learn a lot from those in the business world.

As an example, Bill Nye The Science Guy, recently put out a Kickstarter Campaign asking for $200,000 from the public to create a solar sailing space craft. What’s a scientist doing asking the general public for money?! If you watch his videos you realize he is embracing his inner nerd, putting out a message he thinks is important to research and he is asking citizens to help fund it because government funding isn’t enough.  I admire that he did this! He understands that ultimately to further research possibilities, exposing yourself on social media, blogs, and other news sources may help those goals by tapping into additional funding sources from philanthropic agencies and even the general public.

But Self-Promotion Seems so Slimy and is Not My Style. 

There are many reasons a scientist may not be interested or even good at self-promotion: These could include wanting to avoid harsh scrutiny, having insecurities about being exposed, not knowing how to make a presence outside of the lab, being too busy writing grants to do so, being too lazy to care about this aspect of outreach, or feeling silly exposing your passion and nerdiness.

If you are of the latter, then I want you to watch this video by Marie Forleo, a self-made multi-million dollar business woman who I take advice from:  

The question is:  How do you speak well of your brand (or your science) and let the passion shine through? How do you unabashedly blow your own trumpet? How do you do this without feeling like you’re bragging?

Shameless self-promotion implies there should be shame in self-promotion. [… ] Where did we learn that self-promotion is bad? And why do we accept that as the truth? […] If we speak about something we do or have done, why is that a bad thing? Is joy and confidence and pride something to be shameful about?

Marie Forleo brings in a great perspective on this issue. She is speaking to entrepreneurs in the business world and I think it can translate to us scientists in our world.

I summarize her points below, but don’t short-change yourself: Go watch the video!

  1. If you do something great focus on what you can give, not what you can get. The world needs that special gift that only you have and if you hold back from self-promoting you hold back from those who need you most. You never know if someone needs to hear about what you do.
  2. Stop caring about what other people think. We are afraid people wont like us, they’ll judge us, we’ll be scrutinized as being poor scientists. People already judge you, so just ask yourself who are you living your life for? Who are you doing your science for?
  3. Do not be a broken record when you promote yourself. Have other things to talk about. Have variety in different topics. And make sure you celebrate other people!

The world needs more scientists to get out there. Do you think Bill Nye felt shameful about promoting his idea and asking citizens for their help in funding it? No! His ultimate goal goes beyond his ego. He’s doing it for the science!

If you’re in science, and you love what you do, then share it with the world!


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1 Comment

  1. allisonlee9@gmail.com

    August 3, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I have a follow up article to this post. When you “self-promote”, especially as an environmental scientist, you’re giving a voice to Nature and speaking up for a global cause that benefits all of humanity and life on Earth.

    I’ve recently discovered this idea of neuro-conservation which calls environmental scientists into action:

    “When it comes to purchasing a product, selecting a service provider or supporting a political candidate, people make decisions based on emotions. […] But conservationists tend to present economics, facts and figures. And it’s not working. […] Neuro-conservationists believe environmentalists need to sell emotions, much as product marketers do. […] Applying neuro-conservation methods to conservation messages offers great hope for motivating people to care about and act upon environmental issues. […] Do environmentalists need to change their media messages? ”

    read more here–> http://blog.gaiam.com/is-neuro-conservation-the-new-hope-for-environmental-messages/

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