A mix of business owners and employees. All smart and professional. All investing in themselves to better own and claim their value and worth, and ask like leaders do.
Amid talk about what it takes to prepare for an influencing conversation, making sure you approach one with a tone of respect and collaboration, and the importance of asking (even if you don’t get the results you want), questions were raised about promoting yourself. Marketing yourself. Letting everyone know what you’ve achieved. Giving yourself credit in ways that others can hear it and offer it to you too.
I heard myself say, with a firm tone, You have to market yourself. I’m really tough on this. And I watched a few women make faces suggesting that was, in no way, a comfortable thing to do.
You have wisdom, intelligence, credentials and achievements that need to be shared. And it’s up to you. No-one else will do it for you.
Many of my clients hold senior leadership positions. Many of them would love to be even more senior. Many of my other clients run their own businesses. And they dance between knowing deep down that if they don’t market themselves no-one will do it for them, and not wanting to be perceived as aggressive, pushy or full of themselves.
Two of my clients, who work together, recently told me about the success they’ve created for their workplace, and the total lack of credit they’ve received for it. They’re over it, and are aware they need more recognition if they’re to take the business to the next level.
And yet, integrity is everything to them. The idea of selling themselves feels ugly and dirty. That they could do it successfully, in a way that’s aligned with their values, was nothing short of a revelation softened with sweet relief.
So now, I give you 5 ways to promote yourself and not feel sleazy:
1. Maximise what you do
When someone asks you what you do for work, and you say, I’m just a (insert role), it signals a lack of pride in what you do, embarrassment, and belittling yourself.
You matter. What you do contributes to your workplace. Without you doing it, there’s a hole in the team.
When you maximise what you do, by putting a positive spin on it, you strengthen how others perceive you. You’re also less likely to feel sleazy when what you’re saying is fact-based.
It’s great to include a few words about your strengths too when you answer questions about what you do.
Here’s an example of what I say:
I’m an executive coach who helps women to become powerful speakers and leaders.
It’s much more effective than: I’m an executive coach or I run public speaking workshops.
Note particularly: Erase the words I’m just from your vocabulary. Right now.
2. Ask for what you want
Waiting to get noticed won’t get you anywhere.
If there’s a new role or project that you think has your name on it, you’d better let people know. Never assume your boss has the same idea as you do.
Make sure you point out your strengths and how they’ll serve you in the new role. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, remember to keep what you’re talking about fact-based. No-one can argue with the facts.
When you’re ready to make a move, starting talking about it so the right people know you’re ready for the next challenge.
Learn the skills to ask for what you want with courage, confidence and care.
3. Use your experiences to help others
When you’re trying to help someone with a problem, you can refer to what’s worked for you.
This is a form of self-promotion while assisting someone at the same time. It’s a fair exchange, and it works extremely well in the marketing stakes. It’s powerful AND subtle.
When I speak at conferences, I usually share client stories to illustrate my points, and I talk about the work we’ve together and the results. Those stories are enormously helpful to my audiences, because they learn a few tips they might be able to use. And I’m promoting myself too, almost inadvertently.
It’s exactly what I’m doing right now by writing this post. I’m writing it to help you with promoting yourself. And, at the same time, I’m marketing myself. So, are you reading this thinking I’m being sleazy? No, I didn’t think so.
4. Own your achievements and accept compliments
Being modest doesn’t serve you. Full stop.
Saying things like It was no big deal diminishes you.
I have a client who goes above and beyond the call of duty, including spending too many of her weekends working. She turns in projects that have been magnificently executed. And then, when her boss goes out of his way to say well done, she brushes aside his hearty praise with a It was no big deal.
It was a big deal.
You need to learn how to graciously accept compliments. It makes it easier if there are other people you can credit in the process too.
For example: My team did a great job on this, working after hours and on weekends. I’m really proud of what we achieved, and I’m glad you appreciate it.
One more thing. When you’re offered praise, look the person in the eye and say thank you. Remember, accepting praise gives the person who’s offering it the gift of acknowledgement. When you don’t graciously accept a compliment, you’re doing that person a disservice.
And another thing. When someone emails to give you a well done, don’t be shy to pass it on to your manager, who will want to know about it. You can introduce the email by saying, I was really pleased to receive this. Thought you might like to see it too.
5. Make yourself visible
Voice your ideas in meetings. Offer to give presentations in your area of expertise at work and in relevant groups outside work. Contribute to your organisation’s or an industry blog, or a professional journal.
Put your hand up when opportunities to speak are on offer. Say yes. Create opportunities too.
Public speaking and presenting are the best ways to market yourself and boost your personal brand. Your audiences will see you as an expert. You get to showcase your talents, abilities, skills, intelligence and wisdom. You build trust with your audiences. You grow your network quickly. Your audiences will talk to other people, and that will open more doors for you. You’ll be memorable.
I’d love to know: What’s your take on self-promotion? What works for you? What doesn’t? Which tip is most useful for you?
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