February 24, 2023

Marketing Yourself Online In A Way That Doesn't Feel Gross


In my first few years in college I had a business-savy friend who was always working on things and always aiming to do something valuable. And he had this thing he started doing where he would present himself by his full name: first, middle and last.

Spoiler alert, that friend is the founder of Tier Level. So the person for many years I knew as Sean Lewis was suddenly Sean Michael Lewis. I remember asking him, why? He told me the future of business was building your own personal brand, in other words, self marketing.

The goal wasn't to labor quietly at some company, it was to create a name for yourself, to brand yourself. He told me, “if you work at a company, spend all your energy branding that company, and then leave, what do you have? I guess not much.

I was a bit surprised because he actually made sense.

The aim wasn’t to build a website with some generic name behind it like Phantom Marketing, it was to build your own name. And so, at about the age of 19 he was now Sean Michael Lewis. And I, a more recent convert to this way of thinking, was Jesse Francis Crowley — and I still am to this day on LinkedIn and other places.

We used all three names as a way to stand out. I'm not attempting to suggest that this is the secret sauce to self-marketing, but it is to say that we understood the task.

Sean eventually created a company and named it Tier Level, so there goes that. But he did have a point. Your name is your brand and if you want to grow in business and build a healthy reputation, you should invest time building your own name.

To tackle this topic I will address a typical barrier and then answer two questions:

(1) for what purpose?

(2) how do I do this?


I lead a LinkedIn training for our customers and people like you. Our customers are doers, they get things done. That’s why they’ve tackled owning a small business because it’s a challenge and it’s a goal -- to build something healthy that will last. But they also hate self promotion. Did I use the word hate, it may not be strong enough, they loathe it. They think self-promotion is shallow and they don’t want to “put their personal business out there for everyone to see.” In this sense they have an old ethic about how we should work and live.

But this mentality is sabotaging their ability to be seen and known.It’s not a matter of, “would this be helpful for them?” Of course it is. It’s a matter of, “how detrimental is it for them if they're not there?”

And the answer is very.

Whether we like it or not, building our personal brands is what we should be doing. It's what successful entrepreneurs and successful sales professionals do, they have to.


This leads into another question, “what is the purpose of all this?” Or, “why do I need to market myself anyways?”

Most people want to rely on their personal reputation to drive them through life. What most people do not realize is that “personal reputation” is hard to build in isolation. It's possible to labor quietly and build a massive positive reputation, but this isn't likely. And let's be honest, this doesn't happen for people like us.

You need to set the narrative and drive it. If you do not, you’re playing fast and loose with your reputation. You’re allowing other people to draw your public reputation for you, and that’s dangerous. If you set the narrative, you set people's thoughts. 


And now we’re led to our final question over this topic, how?

The good news is, the how isn’t all that difficult, the difficulty is in implementation. If you want to create a healthy public persona and thereby market yourself you need to follow two steps:

(1) establish your public image (through language, copy and photos)

(2) create good and consistent content that supports your public image

That's it, do those two things. And if you do those two things you are now a known person in your industry.


I did not know it at the time, but Sean was onto something. He understood that an individual’s future was in his own hands. He understood that some people will navigate through life quietly, never noticed. But others will choose to navigate through life differently, they will seek to be known and thereby make a difference in the world.

If you’re in a place of leadership or business development, you have to do this.

Posted on:

Friday, February 24, 2023


Jesse Crowley

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