Self-promotion is not a dirty word
by Kamila Brion
The Instagram Influencers posting a beautifully lit selfie every two minutes and TikTok stars having their videos watched hundreds of thousands of times, make self-promotion look like the most natural thing in the world these days. Yet the mere idea of putting oneself out there in the workplace does still fill many with dread. If this is the case for you, you may be missing out on possible opportunities, recognition and even possibly a chance for your good reputation to pave the way to future promotions.
What is it then that may stop us from dipping our toes in the milk and honey bowl of self-promotion? Let’s have a look at the most common limiting beliefs that may hinder our professional opportunities:
I don’t like talking about myself
Whilst you may choose to keep your private life separate to your professional one (and that is a choice that should be respected), talking about your skills or accomplishments should be seen as a part of the job. It may not be the best part of the job for some, but it’s rare to love absolutely every aspect of one’s job anyway. Some hate admin, some loath self-promotion whilst others aren’t keen on travel. We all tend to like some parts of the job more than others. Even if self-promotion isn’t something you look forward to when you get out of bed in the morning, it still is a part of the job and should be treated as such. The requirement doesn’t disappear just because we don’t like doing it. If you strive to be recognised, make it easy for people to know what you are good at. A bit of self-promotion can open doors to opportunities, so instead see it as gently knocking on those doors.
My good work should speak for itself
Well… it simply doesn’t quite work like that. Or it only does to an extent. Your line manager or your team may recognise your hard work, but if you never speak about it outside of that small circle, how could other managers be aware of what you do? They are busy with their own challenges and their own teams. Make it easy for them to know what your area of expertise is and they will be more open to offer you opportunities that you may have otherwise missed.
In today’s dispersed world it’s even more difficult to equally recognise talent. That alone should be enough of a reason to ensure that you’re visible. The accountability for being known for what you’re good at rests on your own shoulders.
It’s just bragging
There is a significant difference between self-promotion and bragging. Self-promotion is about explaining what you have to offer to meet the needs of the audience you are speaking to, in other words how you can make their lives easier by demonstrating how you could help them solve professional challenges. Bragging tends to be all about you – without taking your audience into consideration at all. Often, it’s about trying to show you’re better than someone and can be rooted in insecurities Self-promotion comes from a win-win way of thinking and is rooted in having confidence in your own worth and in the value of what you have to offer. Instead of bragging about every single accomplishment, focus on creating a clear personal brand.
Only if there is an “I“ at the centre. Change “I” to “it” – instead of selling/promoting myself, I’m selling what I do and what can be useful for you. When the focus is on the it, be it your skills or experience, the spotlight shines on the part that people are most interested in – how can you help them solve their business problems. It also takes away any shame that we may be experiencing when attempting to “sell yourself”.
It has a bad name
The bookshop shelves full of titles like: Brag Better, F*ck Being Humble, How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk, despite the good intentions, don’t really inspire a healthy confidence in self-promotion. I wouldn’t be caught on my commute to work reading one of those…The misuse and misunderstanding of the goals of self-promotion, may give it a bad name.
This graph by Irina Blok is a great example of that:
The solution? See self-promotion for what it really is: helping other people solve their business problems by highlighting your professional skills and experience to them. Avoid being the know-it-all, be an expert. Which leads me to the final point:
The more, the better
Now, we’re getting into a tricky territory. Is there such a thing as too much self-promotion? Possibly. If you see your team members cringe every time you mention that project you led last quarter, that’s an indication you have over-done it. Nobody likes having other people’s achievement shoved down their throats at every opportunity.
Another common mistake is promoting every single achievement. Have a strategy, don’t have to talk about absolutely every task you have accomplished. Decide the area where you want to be seen as an expert and highlight that area of expertise. The more focused you are, the more memorable your personal brand will be.
What have been your experiences, good and bad, with self-promotion? Let me know here