May 16, 2023

Stand Out and Rise – The Art of Effective Self-Promotion

Being good at your job is no longer enough. Social media and the 24/7 business cycle insists that self-promotion is a critical component of career success. Research shows that those who actively promote their successes are more likely to receive advancement and the designation as “high potentials”. Career success requires great work behind the scenes and the intention to cultivate a strong personal brand that showcases your unique talents and achievements. Whether you are a rising star or a seasoned veteran, self-promotion is essential for maintaining and enhancing your reputation in a competitive marketplace.  Differentiate yourself and demonstrate your value to your organization.

Self-promotion can be difficult for anyone, especially if you identify as humble or shy.  Publicizing yourself pushes you to take both a personal and professional risk.  It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable with the idea of boasting about your accomplishments, especially if you dislike individuals who engage in self-praise. However, there’s a crucial distinction between boastful self-promotion and effectively communicating your value proposition. A recent Forbes article, Struggling with Self-Promotion, states “When you achieve the correct balance, effective self-promotion will increase your visibility, build your reputation and move you closer to achieving your career goals.”

Waiting for your boss or others to notice your contributions is no longer an option. There are several negative consequences:

  • Missed opportunities: If your company isn’t aware of your ambitions or achievements, they may not consider you for career advancement that align with your skills and experience.
  • Concentrating too much on tasks rather than results: If you focus too much on completing projects rather than communicating the impact of your work on the company’s bottom line, you underplay your value.
  • Preoccupied on short term goals: You may neglect your own personal branding efforts which is an ongoing process that demands consistent attention. Neglecting this aspect can hinder your ability to distinguish yourself and cultivate an outstanding reputation.
  • Lack of feedback: Without communicating your achievements, you may not receive feedback on your performance or contributions. This can make it difficult to know where you stand and how you can improve.
  • Reduced job security: If your boss and leadership are not aware of your true value, they may be more likely to let you go during times of uncertainty or restructuring.

But also be aware of the potential downsides of self-promotion:

  • You can come across as boastful or arrogant and turn off colleagues and leadership.
  • If you don’t consider the cultural norms and expectations of your workplace, such as modesty and humility, it will tarnish your brand reputation.
  • If you rely solely on competing with others and showing the great work you do, you will turn people off and not build champions who can speak about your strengths.

To successfully showcase your achievements, follow this advice:

  • Prepare in advance: Before a meeting or performance review, prepare a list of your accomplishments and the results you’ve achieved. This will help you avoid forgetting important details or downplaying your success.
  • Make it about your company: Your script should be focused on who you serve, the problems you solve for them, and the positive comments others have shared about your work.
  • Explain the “WHY”: In addition to sharing the benefits you bring to the table, explain your motivation and how it aligns with the company vision.
  • Meet with your boss once a quarter: Provide an update and promote the skills that are most relevant to your boss’ personal success and team goals.
  • Use data to support your claims: Whenever possible, use data to support your claims about your achievements. For example, if you increased sales, be sure to share the percentage increase.
  • Seek sponsors who can showcase your achievements: Ask those individuals who know your work if they are comfortable advocating for you when you are not present. Make sure they have a seat at the table and have “juice” to make things happen. Testimonials are powerful. (Overcoming the Self-Promotion Dilemma)
  • Share the stage: When you take the lead in sharing your achievements, you set the stage to also bring the spotlight to your colleagues by endorsing their talents. Talk about how you are privileged to be part of a great team, and how your success wouldn’t have been possible without others.

Present a balanced picture of yourself.  You don’t have to be perfect. Share both your successes and failures to demonstrate humility, authenticity and makes you more relatable and credible to others. Remember to elaborate on the importance of framing failures as learning experiences and highlighting the lessons and growth achieved.

Embrace self-promotion as a powerful tool to advance your career and empower others. Showcase your achievements, emphasizing the value you bring to your company and the positive impact you make. Remember to strike a balance, respecting cultural norms and workplace expectations. Let your light shine, allowing others to find their own empowerment through your example.

“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world…And as we let our own light shine, we give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela


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