Image courtesy of Diane Parkhouse
Let me start off this post with little caveat, I am not writing this in response to any one person or event. I am not attempting to insult or put down anyone. That is the last thing I want to happen. I apologize in advance if it comes across that way. If you feel I have crossed the line, feel free to let me know directly or through the comment section below. Thank you.
Before I became a teacher, I was involved in retail sales for a number of years. I sold many things including cameras, computers, computer classes, and so on. I will be the first to admit that I am not ‘sold’ on selling techniques. I feel they depersonalize things to the point of almost dehumanizing the purchaser. When you become focussed on the sale more than the person, you are reducing the person to their money. I believe the job of a sales person should be that of assistant. You need to assess what the person needs and then help them find what works best for THEM, not your pocketbook. You are the person who (should) know the product or service best and then connect what the person needs or wants to what matches them.
Being a teaching professional sometimes forces us to take on the role of salesperson. We need to market ourselves in order to get the position we need. Waiting around for the ‘right job’ to come along rarely works and often leads to disappointment. There is a place for ‘selling’ ourselves as professionals, but I fear that we often start to take on the characteristics of the salesperson that we hate the most. Here are some of the things to think about:
- Don’t push your product (books, DVDs, online program, etc.) so much that I feel like you are only interested in me for my money. There is a way of promoting your product without overselling it. Building a relationship with someone before you start pitching your product will go a long way to establishing credibility and trust with the person you want to sell to.
- You aren’t the only one who knows what they are doing. Pushing others down to build yourself up not only makes you look bad, it hurts others as well. There is nothing wrong with recognizing others in your field who are also good at what they do.
- Think about what you are willing to give up for the sake of short term gain. Your actions might get you money or recognition now, but may hurt you in the long run.
- You can only grow so much without the help of others. Listen to what other people in your field have to say and not just those who are ‘the experts’ or the most recognized. There are many others who don’t have the ‘fame’ that some people do, but they may be just as experienced or have just as much to contribute as someone who has written a number of books or made a name for themselves.
- If you begin to build ‘a following’ or start to become more recognized, don’t forget how you got there. It isn’t about you, it is about the community and the students.
- Be yourself. There is nothing wrong with letting others know you are a ‘real’ person. Chat with others about things not related to your work. Have fun. Post pictures. You are not just your skills or products, you are a whole person. Don’t let the work consume you to the point of forgetting about the things of life.
- Remember, the online community is international. Cultural norms change, even if they look the same from the outside. What is normal or readily accepted in one culture, may be considered obnoxious or overbearing in another. Be respectful of other cultures while online.
- You don’t have to make money on everything. It is okay to make some things readily available for free, no strings attached. Money isn’t everything.