Win at Self-Promotion

By Mel Sim

Nothing bad with a little bit of promo...

I’ve got a friend – let’s call him P. Now P is all about appearances. As in he’s king at making himself look good to others, especially if there is an opportunity somewhere. “You gotta get out there and sell yourself to win, ok!” That’s what P would always tell me… and to be honest, it would make me cringe.

In fact, it made a lot of people cringe and soon we’d all have a nickname for P – Mr Promo. He was good at show and tell – he’d show you how good he was at his work, and he’d made sure to tell you about it too.

I always thought P was a little overboard with his self-promotion until one day he told me that he was moving to LA. I was like, how did that happen?

“I was emceeing a company event (something P did often because he said it put him out there for others to know him) and the boss of our US division was there as well. After the event, I went up to him, introduced myself and told him how I would be perfect for his team there. He told me he was impressed by my public speaking skills and asked to drop him an email with my CV first thing tomorrow morning. So yeah, he emailed back and said come join him next month!”

Looks like P got it right all along… and he’s currently living the life in LA.

What did he get right? That you need to do some self-promotion if you want to stand out for success. Sometimes it pays to be big headed and to get promoted, you first have to promote yourself. We’ve always been told to keep our head down and work hard… eventually our accomplishments will get noticed and we will get the recognition we deserve.

But what if the real secret to success is actually promoting yourself at work? Think about it – it is usually the extroverts and the confident ones who get noticed at work and not the colleague whom you hardly hear a peep from. In today’s competitive workplace, unfortunately hard work alone is not enough to get ahead.

Self-promotion is necessary even before you start work – yups, during your job interview. And it follows you through your career – research shows that people who are comfortable with promoting themselves are not only more successful in landing a job from an interview but go on to build stronger networks and are more successful throughout their careers.

The act of self-promotion can be annoying though, especially if you are bragging instead of promoting. It’s a fine line too – are you blowing your own trumpet or are you doing yourself service by letting your colleagues and boss know what you’ve accomplished in the project? Not sure how to start with self-promotion? Here are some tips:

#1 Change your perspective
If you cringe at the thought of self-promotion but feel like you need to do it anyway, you’re not going to do it right. It will either come out like you’re bragging or you’re unsure of yourself, both counterproductive! Self-promotion doesn’t have to be like that. You need to accept that it is necessary in your career. Think about it: If you don’t tell the right people about your skills and accomplishment, how will they know about you? If you think that people will eventually notice and realise your hard work, well you are wrong – your boss might be too busy to keep track! So, the earlier you change what you think about self-promotion, the faster you’ll get to it and help your career go far.

#2 Focus on what you do best
There’s no point self-promoting skills you don’t have – that’s called lying. The whole idea of self-promotion is to tell others what you’re good at, not what you’re mediocre at. Make a list of your strengths and think of your accomplishments. Be sure to have concrete proof to back them up.

#3 Own it
Remember my friend P? He knew that in order to get noticed, he needed to make himself visible. He didn’t wait around or hesitated when it came time to do some self-promotion. He went up to the person he wanted to impress and he did it with a lot of confidence. Maybe his confidence was what won the other guy over, not exactly his skills. Who doesn’t like someone who’s willing to take a risk and focused on his success right? So be like P!

#4 Always an opportunity to self-promo
You don’t have to wait for formal meetings or during appraisals only to do your self-promotion. The right opportunity could be when you’re at the pantry with your boss getting some coffee. He may ask, what’s new? And if you blurted, “Nothing much, just busy” – that’s a loss opportunity there. What you should have done instead is to talk about the project you’re working on and how much you’ve done so far. Show enthusiasm but don’t be overly eager as it may come across as trying too hard. Also, don’t go on and on about it; these casual chit-chats should be kept brief but effective.

Photo by Mimi Thian and Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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