In my work as a coach and throughout my career, I find some words or concepts that are terribly misunderstood and therefore tend to conjure up negative thoughts that hold us back. Today, I want to talk about self-promotion. When most people think about self-promotion, they also think of it as a “four-letter” word when, if used properly, it is powerful for your career.
~ “When most people think about self-promotion, they also think of it as a “four-letter” word — when, if used properly, it is powerful for your career.” ~
We could all cite many examples of people we have known who only want to talk about themselves and their amazing accomplishments or skills. This type of shameless self-promotion gives the whole concept a bad rap.
Let’s talk about the distinction between bragging and self-promotion
- First, it is about the motive behind what you are saying.
- I looked in the dictionary for definitions of bragging. Like many other words in the dictionary, it used yet another word: boasting. So, I looked at the definition of boasting and found things like speaking in:
- Excessive pride or vanity
- At its root, bragging is about shining the spotlight on yourself
- While I could not find a formal definition of self-promotion, my personal definition is that it is more about just raising awareness of skills, team and personal accomplishments, and personal competencies in ways that build a positive personal brand. I heard a saying but did not know its origin, “it’s not bragging if you actually can do it.”
What are some ways you can develop your skills at authentic self-promotion?
- Let go of negative views of self-promotion.
- List your key accomplishments to date – what are the common threads that made these possible.
- Be authentic and focus on those things which are your true strengths and accomplishments.
- Speak with confidence.
- Think of examples of where you could appropriately give recognition to others under your leadership.
- Volunteer to work on a project when others may not step in
- Find opportunities to tell your manager about accomplishments throughout the year rather than waiting for a performance review. Simple example: “I am so excited to tell you we have just completed the first big phase of our project a few days ahead of schedule.”
- Stick to facts and not exaggerations.
- Use storytelling to demonstrate something you may have accomplished in the past. For example, “I understand what you are facing is a huge challenge; I remember being in a similar situation in my first job. It was tough.” Often stories lead people to ask to know more about what happened, which provides an excellent opportunity to discuss how you handled it in a way that is both helpful and demonstrates a skill.
Remember no one cares more about your career than you. What options might be available for you when you shift your thinking about self-promotion?