Self promotion is right up there with networking - and most people would rather go to the dentist and have root canal surgery than do either. We somehow align both with the shifty used car sales tactics of yesteryear.
But unless you've been hidden in a mine shaft (and some of my clients literally are), or perhaps been in the fortunate position of never having to self promote because someone was doing it for you, then you will have read the headlines that doing good work is not enough. And never has self promotion been more important.
So how does self promotion help and/or hinder?
Self promotion is a particularly murky area for women as we run the risk of being penalised by both men and women when we get it wrong. Bias, stereotypes, perception and other shady areas of grey all get muddled up when we over do it - so we tend to avoid.
For men it's a little easier in terms of stereotyped assumptions. However for those with deep subject matter expertise you still need to get out of the way of your expertise and learn to self advocate, self promote and articulate your expertise and experience in language the organisation understands and values.
Both women and men need to confidently articulate how their expertise/experience/results becomes a value add to an organisation in different ways to suit different audiences, over and over again, without sounding like a broken record. Easier said than done, but don't let that stop you.
Plus, it's not just great for you. It will also ensure your business unit or division is seen and valued as well.
So what are those misconceptions?
Misconception #1 - Build it and they will come
Remember the famous line from Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams? He had built a baseball stadium and people magically turned up from all over to attend simply because he built it. In a highly competitive job market, where we confuse confidence with competence, you simply cannot afford to assume that people will see the value or commercial application of your experience or expertise.
Misconception #2 - Results should speak for themselves
In fact, results rarely speak for themselves and we have to speak to them. We're all time and attention poor. Plus work is not school so your individual great results won't be necessarily be tracked and celebrated unless you take the lead.
- Mistake 1 - assuming others are as invested in your own results and career as you are
- Mistake 2 - assuming others are great at interpreting your results
- Mistake 3 - assuming you don't need to do this
Misconception #3 - I've got great champions so I'll be okay
This is frequently one of the most common stories I hear from senior level clients. Up til now they've had great champions and sponsors, who smoothed their way. The downside is that they haven't learned to do this for themselves. So if/when their champion disappears (resigns, is made redundant or retires), the individual finds themselves exposed without having developed their own skills or confidence in self promotion.
Developing competence and confidence around backing yourself, selling yourself and/or ideas, and expressing your expertise in language the business understands and values, should be part and parcel of your professional development. As with any new skill, it takes practice, so don't wait too late to start.
And if you are a woman learning to self promote, yes it is a murkier area. But you still need to do it if you are going to ensure you not only win the next raise or promotion more easily, but your voice is heard within the business, and you get to make a bigger difference far more easily.
Remember - smart and savvy truly is the name of this game!
Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #executivebrand #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes
Get in touch if you need a help with unpacking and selling your expert status brand more skilfully - Email email@example.com.
Liked this article? Here are a few more from the archives ....
- When feminine leadership super powers become a poisoned chalice
- Seven easy tactics to help you bank pre-emptive credibility
- Helping Women Talk Themselves Up