If you’re going to ask for promotion, you’re going to need to make the case for why you deserve it. That conversation can go a little smoother if you’ve been keeping your manager in the loop about what you’ve accomplished.
But talking about yourself — especially your achievements — can be uncomfortable. Regardless of where you are in your career — whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or running a business — or whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s crucial that you’re able to convey your value to the people you’re working with.
What are the most important things to keep in mind before you self- promote?
Before you launch into your self-promotion strategy, there are a few critical things that you should think about:
- Self-promotion is not bragging — it is educating relevant people about your skills and the value that you bring to your organization.
- Self-promotion is not optional. If you want to keep your compensation and promotion rate in line with your male peers.
- Many women are uncomfortable with self-promotion because women who self-promote too aggressively are often victims of a reputational backlash in a way that men are not. If you are uncomfortable with self-promotion, it is important to develop options that allow you to self-promote without generating the backlash. An option that has been proven successful is to position your accomplishments as successes that have benefited the company, client or team as well.
It might go something like this: “I am really excited about the results of the market test. My hypotheses around which features would drive client upgrade were correct, so we are moving forward with a plan to roll those features out across the next set of markets. I was particularly excited when I went to see Big Huge Client and they told me that these new features were exactly what they needed in order to take their business to the next level.” Here I share my success, but I also refer to the client feedback, which serves to neutralize the possibility for backlash.
- Build a script and practice!
What tips for those who are used to keeping their heads down and working hard so they’re comfortable touting their own accomplishments?
First, remember that self-promotion is critical to your long-term success, regardless of your ambitions. Whether or not you want to be CEO, you want to get paid what you deserve in your role and you want to be offered opportunities as they come, so you still need to self-promote.
Second, the best place to start is with aspects of your work that you feel most confident and passionate about. Think about what you share with your friends and family when asked about work — what naturally excites you? Then compare those successes to the list of priorities that management has set for you. Where the two intersect is where you will find the set of topics that should be your starting point.
Once you have your starting point, identify a few successes and build some sentences with which to test the waters.
Start with your personal brand of enthusiasm:
- “I am so excited that…”
- “You may want to know that…”
- “I thought you would be interested to hear that…”
- “I am having a great day because…”
Add in your success:
- “the analysis we did identified some efficiencies”
- “the sales call went really well and the client shared their budget number”
- “the candidate I recruited accepted today”
- “the vendor I have been working with agreed to a reduction in fees”
- “the employee I have been coaching did a great job on his presentation today”
Close it out with some reason why your success benefits the company, team or client, something like: “Business head X was so excited about the vendor fee reduction, he said it would really positively impact his P&L going forward because their are growing their business with that vendor.” OR “The best part was my employee felt so good about the presentation and he got complements from the entire team. It was a really rewarding experience all around.”
Finally, practice, try it out, practice some more until it practically rolls off your tongue. Self-promotion is not something you do when review season nears; it has to be a constant practice if we want to see results.