If you’re like most people, self-promotion does not come easily. Research on this topic indicates that women are especially hesitant to advocate for themselves. That being said, we have no issue whatsoever promoting our friends and colleagues. One could conclude from this that we know how to do it, but we shy away from doing so on our own behalf. In fact, we avoid it like the plague, and that has serious consequences to our career advancement.
What about self-promotion is so difficult? It’s the “self” part; the egocentric nature and seemingly aggressive pushiness that makes us cringe not only when we attempt it for ourselves, but when we observe others bragging in a self-centered manner. When we hear other people promoting themselves this way, we tune them out. It reminds us of the insincere sales person who just wants to make the sale and cares nothing about our wants and needs. The result is that this obvious attempt at self-promotion is not effective. If people don’t listen, the pitch fails.
Many of us have been taught to create elevator pitches to promote ourselves. Personally, I believe these pitches fall flat for the same reason. Elevator pitches are all about us. We feel uncomfortable saying them and we often lose our audience when we deliver our pitch. It seems fake, stylized, too rehearsed, and inauthentic.
So on the one hand we don’t advocate for ourselves because we feel uncomfortable. Yet on the other hand we recognize that self-promotion is necessary to create the visibility and credibility we need to get ahead. How can we promote ourselves in a way that takes the egocentric grandstanding out of it? We need a new approach.
I have coached hundreds of men and women to take the “self” out of self-promotion, and it has helped them advocate for themselves to build credibility and visibility.
Here’s how you do it.
Instead of trying to articulate how wonderful you are and everything that you’ve accomplished, focus on your work and how your work contributes to positive business outcomes. Ask yourself, how your work and the way you do it helps the organization or your department reach its objectives.
Here’s an example of one of my clients.
Laura is a sales director for a global pharmaceutical company. Her role is to support the sales team by developing training programs. She also assists the efforts of sales leadership in the field. Laura has a unique ability. She has repeatedly demonstrated her skill finding opportunities for revenue where no one else sees it. This revenue can be with existing customers where she sees avenues for new products and services or ways to upsell current accounts, find new partnership potential. This unique ability to find revenue that is not obvious to others is her unique value proposition.
What is most important is to first understand how you contribute, quantify it if possible, and then look for opportunities to assist others and help the organization reach its objectives.
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