A few weeks ago, I asked for input from my network of professionals on strategies you use to successfully promote yourselves within your workplace and network. Thank you to those who shared your ideas. From this input and my personal experience, I presented a workshop on self promotion strategies for the National Society of Black Engineers’ Professional Development conference in Hartford, CT. I have also assembled these best practices in a series of articles to share with you. Let me know how these strategies work for you.
What is Self Promotion?
Many professionals have a negative perception of the concept of self promotion. Comments I often hear are “I feel like I’m bragging.” “I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself.” “I don’t want to take all the credit.” “I’m a team player.” Do any of these sound familiar? The approach you use to promote yourself can certainly come off as these statements describe. However, I invite you to shift your mindset around self promotion in order to perceive it as an opportunity that you approach positively.
I define self promotion as a way of communicating & demonstrating your value. Do you believe you add value to your organization? If so, you have a story to share.
“What I’ve learned is that I need not be so humble. I’ve always been of the mindset that you should not brag on yourself and that has been a barrier for me. I had the word ‘brag’ in my mind vs ‘self-promote’.” Tammye H., Brown-Forman Corp
Why Is Promoting Yourself Important?
Our nature as human beings is to feel comfortable with people we know and have built a relationship with. We create perceptions based on what we see (or think we see), our personal interactions with people, or what we hear from others. Right or wrong, those perceptions form our beliefs about people. If we don’t tell our own story, those perceptions become who we are.
Fundamental to career advancement
These perceptions carry over into your working relationships. People interact with you with these perceptions in mind. Managers make hiring decisions and project assignments based on these perceptions. If people don’t know you and your ‘value’, or if they have the wrong perceptions of you, your career will suffer as a result. One of my workshop participants noted that “your personal value is worthless if nobody knows about it.” Promoting yourself is fundamental to career advancement. It has to become a natural part of what you do.
“For me, it occurred over time and trial and error. I observed others who were really good at it. They were ‘cleaning my clock” and I realized that if I didn’t “promote myself” then no one in the organization would do it for me. You have to find that delicate balance to not spend too much of your time promoting yourself, but It has to become a natural part of who you are.” Al C., Norton Healthcare
More than “getting the job done”
Professionals also have this belief that “if I keep my head down and work hard, I’ll get promoted.” Yes, hard work is required to get promoted, but hard work alone won’t get you promoted. Though self promotion begins by having a value story to share, your track record of execution and accomplishments, you have to actively manage your Reputation. Who are the key individuals that need to know who you are, and what do they need to know about you? You’re going to be very strategic about those connections you make.
Ralph deChabert is the Chief Diversity Officer for Brown-Forman Corporation and is one of the leaders I interviewed for my FuelForward book. He reminds us that “If you don’t tell your own story by managing it, somebody is going to create a story for you. I don’t know your story until you tell it to me. Telling your story is terribly important, because someone else may write a different story for you.”(FuelForward book p. 109)
You have to decide what you want your brand to stand for and how you want to be represented. (For more on managing your brand, check out Chapter 6 of the FuelForward book, beginning on p. 75.)
Keep in mind that self promotion is not a one time event. It’s an ongoing conversation and demonstration. You have several strategies at your disposal to be able to effectively and professionally integrate self promotion into your daily routines. Watch for the next article for details.