For the majority of us, self-promotion isn’t instinctive; it feels unnatural at best and grossly uncomfortable at worst. Not wanting to seem self-serving, narcissistic, overly self-involved or the ‘one’ who incessantly talks about herself; striking a balance between self-promotion and self-aggrandisement is tricky. Despite having a bad reputation, self-promotion is, in fact, a skill that frequently predicates success in the 21st-century workplace. Exceptionally powerful when effectively used, it is possible to build it while maintaining your integrity, growing your confidence and building professional kudos.
Change of mindset
Although it would be lovely to be recognised for your hard work without having to speak up, the reality is different. Everyone, including your boss, is busy. It is up to you to keep them up to date on what you are doing. Instead of viewing self-promotion as cringe-worthy and embarrassing view it as a professional up-date on a project that just happens to be about your role.
Identify your goals
When starting to self-promote be very clear about your ‘Want’ and your ‘Why’. Do you want to stay in your company, get a raise, promotion, a leadership position, move departments, upskill or re-skill? Maybe you are going to leave your job or change career but before you do you want to push yourself. Whatever your reason, it is vital you take time to figure out what exactly you want to achieve from self-promotion. Once you have a clear goal in mind work backwards. Clearly and consistently using all of your self-promotion time to build towards that goal.
Target your audience
Instead of shouting your achievements from the rooftops focus on getting your message to the right people. If you intend to stay within your current role, you might need to speak up at meetings where decision makers are present or become more visible on work social channels. If you want to move jobs, your target audience is future potential employers. So, begin to tailor your social media content, particularly LinkedIn, to show your range of skills and expertise.
Keep Tabs on Achievements
At A Career to Love HQ we call keeping tabs on yourself your Momentous Moments. These are your daily/weekly achievements or learning experiences that grow your confidence. Spend 60 seconds every day reflecting on what you learned, what you could have done better and what you will do differently tomorrow to improve on today. Gradually your confidence increases as you begin to acknowledge and own your work. It also provides evidence of your achievements while simultaneously preparing you for an interview or performance review.
Build a Story you can Validate
Storytelling is a beautiful way to engage others without ever talking about yourself. Outline the problem, how it was addressed and the outcome. Keep to facts you can validate and that you are in a position to give more information on if asked. It is one thing to tell a tall tale (self-aggrandisement), but it is a completely different thing to tell a story that you can stand over and build a professional conversation from (self-promotion).
Use a good mixture of ‘I’ and ‘we’ as you describe your work.
Ensure to include the role others play. The genuine promotion and support of other talented professionals/colleagues who have helped, made your job easier or really engaged in the project raises your creditability and builds stronger professional relationships. Be proud and honest about your achievements as an individual and as a member of a wider team.
Admit Failures or Struggles
Include the struggles, the challenges you faced and the failures you encountered. It is these setbacks that humanise the path to success and builds better relationships. Remember everyone fails at some point or hits a roadblock. What sets you apart from the rest is your ability to bounce back, analyse and learn from those mistakes. By admitting failure and acknowledging challenges, you interweave a form of self-promotion that is authentic, honest and much more believable than simple self-praise.
The journey to a career to love can be challenging. It takes hard work, vision and the courage to put yourself out there. By using the steps outlined above, you will become more comfortable talking about yourself and your achievements. If you don’t show a current or potential employer what you bring to the table, who will? It’s an increasingly important in the 21st-century workplace to design your own success, and we have to get used to.