By Nikki MacCallum
The term “self promotion” carries a scary connotation for most people. When I hear “self promotion” I immediately feel overwhelmed, timid, and anxious. But as frightening as it can be, self promotion can be crucial to one’s success, especially in the workplace.
When you’re in a role within an organization that is directly tied to revenue, it’s often easier to qualify and broadcast your wins. For example, if you work in a sales capacity and land a large account, the company will likely hear about it, you will be a hero, and it will be taken into consideration during review time. But if you’re in a non-sales role, not only can it be more challenging to develop metrics around how you add value, but it can also be more difficult to gain visibility. And, how relevant is the value you’re adding if nobody knows about it?
Assuming you’re doing a good job, having visibility at work can be paramount to your upward or cross-team trajectory. Especially at a larger company, most employees across the board are so fixated on their own performance (and rightfully so), that they aren’t paying attention to what their colleagues are doing. As a result, your smaller wins can often go unnoticed unless you tell people about them.
Telling others about your successes is often times uncomfortable. It can feel unnatural, obnoxious, and vulnerable. But there are ways to self promote that are less intimidating and less obvious than standing up and announcing to the entire office that you just did something great.
Building relationships with senior leadership can be one of the most effective ways to stay on the corporate radar. This is as simple as making sure that members of the executive team know who you are. There are a few different ways this can be done. The first step is to simply introduce yourself. Next, try to maintain some form of consistent communication. Reach out to see how someone’s day is going or send them a link to an article you think they might find interesting. You can even take this a step further and approach a specific individual to see if they’d be interested in being a mentor or suggesting a mentor to you. Just remember that once you’re on someone’s radar, you need to make sure to stay there.
When considering whether an organization is right for you, it’s important to understand how accessible the executive leadership team is to their employees. If you are already with an organization, reach out to a senior-level individual and ask to schedule a 1:1, even if it’s just to pick their brain on a topic or to ask them for advice. Use them as a resource, or talk to them about a project you’re working on and ask for their thoughts or feedback. One of the many perks of working at Lighthouse is the emphasized open-door policy and as a result, members of the executive team are very accessible.
Asking for feedback is another great way to let your colleagues know you’re working on something specific without having to shamelessly promote it. While bragging about ourselves can feel strange, simply letting others know what you’re working on is normal, and also a great way to gain visibility. Is your company building a community of supportive individuals who are willing to give constructive feedback in a positive way? If so, take advantage of that. If not, start asking.
Having someone else do your PR for you is another strategy to make your successes known. When I worked in sales, I had a colleague with whom I cross sold often. Together we came up with an approach where she’d tell potential buyers about my successes, and in turn, I’d tell them about hers. It generally feels more natural to brag about someone else than it does to promote yourself. Make a bond with someone on your team and be each other’s PR agents. At meetings, you can speak up about their good work and they will do the same for you.
Empowering others is what I believe to be one of the most effective forms of self promotion. Think of it as celebrating each other’s successes, which is not only a self-promotion tactic but more importantly, it feels good. My company has a platform where employees are encouraged to recognize and celebrate the successes of others, but it could also be done over email and other mechanisms if your company doesn’t have a platform. If your colleague stands out, brag about them! Hold yourself to a standard of promoting one team member per week. When I read endorsements, I notice who is writing them just as much if not more than the actual individuals getting recognized.
In the same vein of empowering others is celebrating your team. Especially at an organization like mine where teamwork and camaraderie is highly encouraged, this carries significant weight. And once again, leveraging a company-wide platform enables you to easily tie recognition to team objectives. Having documented objectives and key results, fosters a growth mindset. Metrics are valuable because they’re based on data. And when you have that data, you have confirmation that you were successful which makes it easier to identify success and to repeat the process in the future. It’s much less stressful to promote something that’s been documented. If sharing your own wins makes you uncomfortable, use the data and share the collective wins of your team.
Building relationships with leadership, asking for feedback, having someone else do your PR for you, empowering others, and celebrating your team, are five strategies that will send you on your way of mastering the art of self promotion. Ironically enough, these five tactics also take the focus off of you and put it onto someone else, lending themselves to a far less intimidating, yet effective experience. Don’t get lost in the shuffle. Be visible, be yourself, and be on people’s radars. If you’re looking to grow your career especially within the same organization, being top of mind is half the battle.
Want to continue the conversation? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikki MacCallum brings over thirteen years of experience in the executive search space with a focus on litigation technology and eDiscovery. She’s spoken on panels and at conferences nation-wide (ABC News, Women in eDiscovery, LegalTech, CALSM, ARIAS) and was recently the key note speaker for a global Career Panel Workshop at American Express. Nikki is also a resident speaker at New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless where she privately mentors underprivileged women looking to re-enter the workforce.
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