You Need to Self-Promote More
Updated: Mar 31
Are you promoting yourself enough? Likely not if you are woman according to research and my own experience working with thousands of women professionals.
The reasons women hold back from self-promotion are many and varied. Social and cultural norms often tell women that self-promotion is "icky" or “bragging,” while promotion of your greater team is expected.
Many women tell me that “their work should speak for itself,” a value that is often not held as tightly for their male counterparts. Yes, your work “should” speak for itself, but it may also be drowned out by the voices of others actively promoting their successes.
So just how do you improve and increase your self-promotion muscles?
Start by reframing the way you think about self-promotion. As Meredith Fineman states in her book Brag Better, “You can’t just let your work speak for itself. Because if you’re not enthusiastic about your achievements, nobody else will be... If you're here, you've done the work. IT'S TIME TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT.”
Need another pitch for self-promotion: All the greatest brands have marketing departments. You are a brand and you must be your own marketing department.
Still feel weird about self-promotion, then start telling yourself, “I am not comfortable with self-promotion, YET.” This simple trick allows you to move from a limiting fixed mindset to a growth mindset that acknowledges you have the capacity to grow and learn. (You do!!)
Only feel comfortable promoting the work of your team? Then begin your road to self-promotion by adding "and I" into your team based statements. For example, instead of saying "The team won the RFP," say "The team and I won the RFP." This simple change insert you actively into the conversation.
Then, create a success list. Pick your favorite platform - Word, Google, OneNote, a designated notebook - and jot down a quick note about every success. EVERY SUCCESS. EVERY TIME. Receive positive feedback a peer, superior or client – add it to your list. Close a deal, repair a client relationship, meet a stretch goal, try something new, learn a new skill – add it to the list.
Creating a success list accomplishes two important things: First, it forces you to stop your endless momentum forward and take 30 – 45 seconds to acknowledge what went well. Our brains are hardwired to remember the negative, so make sure you also take time to remember (and celebrate) the positive.
Second, it serves as a reference tool at your next review or anytime you need to talk about your accomplishments. If you don’t note it, you often forget it. (Who can remember all the successes you had in 2021 or 2022?)
Lastly, get clear on your “edge” and turn up the volume around promoting it. Your edge is what makes you unique and valuable to an organization. And, it is what you should be talking about a lot more.
Your edge needs to be authentic, concise and relevant to the recipient. (My skill around baking anything chocolate is likely not what I need to lead with when marketing myself to others). Need help identifying what it is? Consider the following questions:
· Where do you have expertise?
· What exasperates you? (What exasperates you is often where you excel)
· What compliments do you dismiss?
· What do people seek you out for?
After considering the questions above, I encourage my coaching client to make a list of 10 possible “edges” and then ask for feedback from 3 or more trusted friends. Friends can kindly challenge our assumptions, often see what we do not, and can help you further refine your language.
Once you know your edge, think about all the ways you can promote it. Start looking at the language you are using in your LinkedIn bio. Does it reflect just how amazing you truly are?
Try sharing articles around your area of expertise on LinkedIn and/or internal social channels. Work for a company that has an internal email newsletter, podcast or blog? Offer to author an article around your area of expertise.
Another idea: Consider how your language can subtly promote your edge to others. Instead of starting a sentence with “I think we should consider…” say “I have experience with [Insert Edge here] and I recommend…”
This week, I was lucky enough to speak to over 150 women and men about the power of self-promotion at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mPower event. Attendees were asked to make one commitment to doing something different over the next 10 days that will move them forward.
So what will you commit to do over the next 10 days?