The Art of Self-Promo (Even When You Don’t Want to!)

By Siew Ching

Because sometimes, you have to sell yourself to advance to the top.

Hands up if you think this: If my work speaks for itself, I don’t have to.

What would you say if we told you this is false, that even if you’re one of the most talented person in your company and your work is fabulous, your skills might still go unnoticed, especially by the big guns in the company.

The thing that can really propel you forward? Self-promotion. We get it – not everyone is comfortable with telling others how great they are at what they do. In short, it’s bragging and it’s showing off. If you’re doing this with your manager, you run the risk of being called a “suck up “. And that’s what many people shy away from self-promotion.

What if we told you that when done right – with a touch of professionalism and a lot of backing up that bragging rights – it can help you network, meet the right people, cast the right impression, and ultimately be key to your career success?

That’s right folks – if you want to get to the top, it’s time to start talking… about yourself!

Here’s why self-promotion works:

#1 Your talent can sometimes go unnoticed
Your boss is busy, you don’t have direct access to the upper ups, priorities are constantly changing, and so are the people who work at your office. Oftentimes, many high-performing individuals are overlooked because of the many other things that are going on at the office. So even if you bagged the deal everyone’s been after, it may not be as celebrated as it should be because everyone else wants to get back to what they are doing.

#2 Success stories need to travel
You may be many, many layers underneath the person who really calls the shots. Or maybe your boss is super busy or hardly around in the office so news travels to him really slowly. At the same time, success stories shouldn’t just end with your boss – the people you work with and the people you may work with in the future need to know who you are and what you have to offer for you to have a bright future at the company.

#3 You need to sell yourself!
At the end of the day, you need to establish your own brand and your own strengths. If you wait for others to do the promo for you, your chance to really impress may have already passed or that person may not be doing your success justice. In other words, you own your success and therefore you should be the one talking about it!

But what if you really don’t like the idea of self-promotion? Can’t you just let the work speak for itself? Sure, nobody wants to be that person yelling “Me, me, me!” Here’s the thing though – self-promo isn’t just about bragging; it’s about fostering a relationship with others in your team too, to share with them what you are capable of so everyone is clear of who’s good at what.

What you need to do is reframe the idea of self-promotion from bragging to communicating your achievements and capability. By doing this, the self-promo doesn’t just stop at what you’ve already achieved; it also includes what you can do and why you can make an impact on your team and organisation – which then will open up new opportunities for you to have even more achievements to be associated with!

How do you self-promote the right way? Here are some tips:

#1 Keep it short
It’s bragging when you can’t stop talking about it. But it’s self-promo done right when you speak briefly about your achievements, be clear about the facts, and keep it high level. You don’t have to go into the details. Just mention it as a matter of fact and let others make what they will with that info.

#2 Don’t do it at others’ expense
While talking about your achievements, don’t undermine someone else’s failure. You don’t want to be that person who inflates yourself while putting others down. This can damage your reputation (you will definitely be seen as bragging here) and plus, it’s just not nice.

#3 It doesn’t have to be over the top
You don’t have to purposely schedule an appointment with your boss to talk about your success or arrange for a discussion to talk about how what you’ve achieved should be the benchmark of how success should be measured. Instead, speak when you are asked to share or when others are sharing. Be clear about what you’ve achieved and use it to promote your skills and knowledge to help others in areas they may be lacking. Self-promotion shouldn’t just end with you telling others of the great things you’ve achieved; it should be a way to help others or create new opportunities for yourself.

#4 Be authentic
When you are talking about your achievements, make sure you stick to the facts! You don’t want to be caught embellishing the truth. Your efforts will be more accurate and better received if you are genuine.

#5 Make it relevant
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If everyone’s talking about successes for Project A, don’t use this as a chance to self-promote what you’ve done for Project B. When self-promoting, make sure you are clear about what you’ve achieved at that point in time and why that matters. If you’re off the mark, you will come across as just wanting to brag.

Have you ever had to self-promote your successes? Tell us how it went and what worked… or what didn’t @Graduan.

Photo by Jenna Day on Unsplash.

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