Maybe I am the outlier and need to get over it.
But I can’t.
Won’t is the better word.
I won’t be a “brand,” someone who seizes every opportunity to self-promote. I want to be someone who has a good reputation.
An invitation to connect
What set me off? A fairly long mass email from a fellow to his LinkedIn contacts.
His opening paragraph was brief yet warm and welcoming. He said he wanted to get to know his contacts better. Mentally, I gave the guy kudos for reaching out and starting the process of building better connections. Way to role model.
His second paragraph outlined his experience. Good stuff. Strong credentials. He painted a solid picture of his background.
In his third paragraph, he provided details about several of the leadership programs he conducts. He said he thought the recipients might find the info useful in case we were looking for programs to attend or bring to our organizations.
I felt a little twitchy after reading course descriptions more commonly found in promotional material. To me, the surplus of specifics felt unnecessary. Weren’t we just getting to know one another?
The fourth paragraph listed the awards he’d received. Impressive. Good for him. Great that he’s been recognized for his quality work. Recognition is good to give, get, and hear about.
Me or we?
But, but, but.
An uncharitable thought had started to jump around in my head and kept jumping.
So far, he’d shared lots of “look-at-me” stuff’; no “we” stuff. His style of “connecting” felt like bragging. That’s when I went back and counted the lines in each paragraph. Paragraph two had 11 lines, 22 in the third, and 14 in paragraph four. 47 lines so far about him.
Next, he listed places where his articles had been published should we want to read them and learn more. The titles were hyper-linked. Paragraph five was eight lines long.
Should we want more details on his innovative views on leadership, paragraph six gave us descriptions and links to videos of his speeches. That paragraph was seven lines.
Paragraph seven was an overview of the book he’d recently written. In eleven lines, he told us how it would help us be better leaders.
After reading 73 lines, I knew a fair amount about both his background and thoughts on leadership, but I didn’t feel any connection to him or that we’d gotten to know one another better.
On an intellectual level, I understood he was using his email to build his personal brand. The world is information-rich these days, and people have to stand out. Differentiating yourself is a challenge many people trying to make a name for themselves face. I get that.
Connecting or selling?
But, but, but. I felt talked down to, oversold, and more convinced than ever that going in the opposite direction from the latest “It” trend is the rightest thing to do. Maybe it was my biases, stubbornness (inherited and cultivated), or need to feel a personal connection that made me react unfavorably.
Regardless of the reason, his message didn’t feel like connecting; it felt like a commercial. Impersonal, almost clinical. Qualified but distant, detached. I wanted to get to know a real person, not be introduced to a brand.
Have you ever felt the same way?
Image credit before quote added: Pixabay