3 Keys to Self Promotion at Work

“Self-promotion” is one of those things that come up in training sessions or even conversations between peers discussing the reasons for why some people are getting ahead and others are not. Self-promotion is also a very important theme when you are trying to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers during a job search.

We all know the importance of it but would rather tell ourselves, “That’s not who I am,” or that “It’s wrong for good work to be overlooked just because you aren’t willing to be boastful about it.”

The first step is rethinking this assumption – that self-promotion inevitably means being arrogant or overly confident about yourself.  While we may all be familiar with this type, the most effective form of self-promotion is something a bit different.

Having been in a position to self-promote and at times, in a position to be on the receiving end of team members self-promoting, I’ve found that it is about doing these three things:

  1. Use facts, not adjectives, to keep decision makers informed.
  2. Tie these facts to what your manager cares about.
  3. Be consistent and proactive about communicating with your manager.

Most of us are not comfortable making statements like “I’m smart and great at talking to clients.”  More importantly, simply describing your strengths with such adjectives are rarely effective in getting your boss (or future boss) to appreciate those strengths. But let’s assume presenting to clients is indeed a strength of yours. How would you let them know? Reflect on what results you achieved by being a smart and a great presenter to clients.

If you just received a favorable response about a proposal from a client following a presentation you delivered, this is a “fact” that you can objectively talk about. This is a much more helpful and natural way to talk about your strength. Your manager is hearing a positive development in business with this client –  the fact or result, and it was based on your presentation – where your ability comes in.

The key is to make sure they clearly see how they are attributable to your abilities.  Something I’ve seen with Asian professionals is a tendency to talk about the first part (report on the client’s response) but fail to describe or even bring up their involvement. As a manager, it is actually helpful to know what factors contributed to a particular outcome, especially a good one. It’s insight that helps them in making future decisions about strategies and staffing for future projects.

Finally, it’s critical that you are proactive and disciplined about communicating these types of facts and contributions to your manager. Most managers need and appreciate being informed and reminded of positive developments in their organization. On the flip side, it is very possible that they are not aware of important accomplishments or how they came about if you don’t tell them about it. You can’t build trust and get recognition for it by being great once in a while. It’s something you have to work for by consistently reinforcing the value of your contribution to the team.

If you’re a job search candidate, that means proactively keeping your contacts, your network aware of positive results and achievements, especially ones that are relevant to a potential employer’s focus areas or needs.

Start self-promoting today.  Focus on the facts – the result, impact or change you achieved, which should make it much easier to talk about, think carefully about how these facts relate to important priorities of the organization. And, on a regular basis, talk about them with your managers (potential future managers). They will appreciate it.