If the very idea of self-promotion makes you raise an eyebrow, if you think that it would be embarrassing or shameful in a social or working context, then you need to start rethinking everything. Today we are going to talk about how to promote yourself in the workplace and advance your career and believe me, it has nothing to do with selfishness, rudeness, shamefulness, or social misconduct. It has nothing to do with bragging, pumping yourself up above others or, God forbid, humiliating yourself and beg to your bosses. No, it is not and shouldn’t be that complicated and frustrating.
“Humility is admirable”, Leslie K. John, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School writes in an article about the same topic we are discussing today. “But if someone requests information or an answer that requires you to reveal positives about yourself, you should oblige”, she adds.
Because this is the pillar of self-promotion. You may as well be humble in a working environment and at the same time, do everything you can in order to prove yourself and make your peers aware of your expertise and professionality.
What is self-promotion?
Basically, self-promoting refers to a continuous process of networking and presenting yourself to the public with the ultimate goal of starting or advancing your career. You do self-promotion when you are going to a job interview and at the same time, you are doing it at the workplace, by showing your peers your strengths and abilities.
Self-promoting can be sometimes quite challenging but nevertheless, it is something that needs to be learned if you don’t like to settle for less. And, if you are a woman, moreover, you need to self-teach yourself these skills, as according to studies, you are not doing it enough compared to your male peers.
Why is important to promote yourself?
Whether you are searching for a job or looking for a promotion at your actual job, self-promotion can be crucial in achieving your goals and getting noticed by your peers, employers, bosses, and so on. It may also help you in building a professional social network that can secure you with professional recommendations and offers.
Promoting yourself should be about you but not only you. You function inside a society and, in the workplace, a micro-society with its own rules and expectations. Self-promotion? Let’s see together how you can do it better than all the others:
1. Think about self-promotion as part of your career
Your career does not start with landing the first job. It starts with searching for that first job. And this is where self-promotion comes into place for the first time. You know what you want, you know what it is and you should fight for it. Self-promoting yourself can put you on that path.
You can think about yourself as a product that was just put on the market. You may be amazing but if you don’t advertise yourself, nobody will know that. Therefore, just as advertising and marketing are part of a product’s lifecycle, so should be self-promotion for your career.
It should be therefore part of your career. It doesn’t matter what point you are in your career, or what your next step is, self-promoting should be part of your daily tasks in order to get noticed, get to the next step, and so on.
2. Understand what your best skills are and what you have accomplished so far
You can actively promote yourself within your office environment by doing a good job, by always being reliable, and by always showing your skills even when you show extra skills that are not required for what you are doing right now. Know what you are good at and show off sometimes. It’s not a bad thing, it’s marketing.
3. Really focus on the projects assigned to you
One of the best ways to show your skills and commitment is to stay always focused on your tasks, meet your timelines, and, if you have time left, help other colleagues with theirs. Focus and commitment are two of the most important skills your bosses and peers are looking for and expecting from coworkers, skills that will help your self-promotion endeavor on a daily basis.
4. Try to become an expert in your industry
A personal blog is the first step you can undertake in promoting yourself as a professional. Or, it can be a podcast or a video series posted on YouTube, TikTok, or other similar social media platforms. Keeping a blog will help you research more on your industry, study to deliver new and original content on a daily/weekly or monthly basis, and do more for an audience that shares those same interests. This will help you build up confidence, build a personal brand, and get noticed by other people who are working in the same industry and of course, companies from your niche.
5. Be ready for small talk
You are at work, you are taking a break, you are going to the cafeteria for lunch or outside for a cigarette. Talk with people from other departments, and introduce yourself as an active member of not only your team but of the whole company. Establish connections, discuss different issues, and make yourself visible.
6. Share your accomplishments
If you are focused on advancing your career, I am quite sure that you have already set up a social media account on LinkedIn or other similar platforms. This is the perfect environment for self-promotion. Share with your peers all your accomplishments, all your promotions, and everything that can put you in a good light regarding your profession.
7. Provide support to your colleagues and peers
Another great way to improve your image and build on your self-promotion is to always offer to help your colleagues and peers even if you are helping on tasks that you are assigned to. Inside a big company, there are always teams that comprise of individuals who perform specific tasks. Working on tasks that are not yours proves that you are a great team player and at the same time, that you are reliable and able to perform in different areas of expertise which to some extent, can be of benefit when it comes to promotion.
8. Engage in servant leadership
Recently, I came across a very good and most certainly valuable article: The Definitive Guide to Servant Leadership by Kurt Uhlir. Servant leadership was a new concept that he introduced to me but at the same time, I recognized its value right from the first two paragraphs. “When you observe an individual practicing servant leadership, you are experiencing a person who embodies the concept of actions being louder than words. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy where the goal is to serve others and lead by example”, he writes.
And he couldn’t be more right. I suggest reading his article and making some notes on what he has to say, as servant leadership is yet another great way to connect with your colleagues and peers and promote yourself.
9. Talk about your results
I know, bragging is a bad thing. Well, sometimes it isn’t. The great results should be talked about. Share them with your colleagues, peers, and especially, your bosses.
Did you finish a project with 90% of the assigned budget? Write a note to your boss and show your results and, if you feel like this is too much, write a note to your team thanking them that they put everything together with less than the assigned budget and put your boss in the copy. This is only one of the many examples you can get. Think outside the box, and find a way to brag about your accomplishments without being perceived as arrogant.
10. Say YES!
Yes. It’s not just a word. It’s a powerful sentence. A statement. And, when it comes to your career and self-promotion, this word can mean the world to you.
Say ‘Yes!’ to opportunities that arise in the workplace, whether or not they are part of your daily routine and tasks or not. This is a powerful statement on your behalf, a statement that you can be more than you are, that you are better at what you do. It is also a positive statement of a positive individual who wants to make things better for themselves and for the company as well.
11. Learn to say ‘NO’ at the same time
You can show off your skills when you say ‘Yes’ to things that were not assigned to you. However, it takes confidence to be able to say ‘NO’ as well and prioritize your main duties in order to deliver the best results.
12. Give and ask for feedback
Always give feedback to your co-workers, especially when it is positive feedback. They will appreciate and return the favor. However, there’s more to this. You can as well ask for feedback from your colleagues and bosses. It doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative. Positive feedback will shed a good light on you while negative feedback will help you learn from your own mistakes and better yourself. The better you get at what you do, the more likely is that you will be noticed by peers and get in line for a promotion or a raise.
13. Compliment your colleagues for their achievements or help
We’ve talked about the need to give help and it is time to mention what to do when your colleagues help you as well. Praise them, and show that you are a good team player and at the same time, a great team leader. The more positive you are about them, the more compliments you give, and the more likely is that they will return the favor as well. And this is also good for self-promotion.
This doesn’t mean that you should refrain from giving feedback when things go wrong. People need that as well in order to learn from their mistakes and better themselves at what they do. It means that above all that, aside from the fearless feedback you give to your colleagues, you should also compliment them every time they come up with a good idea, solve a hard problem or complete a task.
14. Keep your portfolio up to date
Stay close to social media and job-hunting platforms. Always keep your profile up to date and be careful to mention all your accomplishments and victories in the business environment.
In today’s working environment, everybody appreciates volunteer work. It shows that you are investing in others, that you are open to different scenarios and tasks, and that you can be less selfish and more invested in the community. If you are working in a multi-national you will score extra points with volunteer work as such companies and corporations are investing themselves, as well, in these types of social inputs.
16. Invest in your skills
Education is something that never ends if you are an individual who always aspires in achieving more. Chase for online courses, sign up for all the free courses your company is promoting, and do as much as you can to develop your skills and keep up with your area of expertise. Don’t forget, however, to highlight all your qualifications and diplomas on every business-related social network you are on. Highlight them on your resume and on the job-seeking platforms you have already set up a profile on.
17. Invest in others
If you are already at the required level to teach others what you do, find time for it. People appreciate the help given, especially in the workplace. You will always have new colleagues or interns that will ask questions and need to acquire a specific set of skills in order to perform well. Everybody will notice that you have reached that point in your profession when you will train others, and this is great for you, especially if you are looking for a promotion. Moreover, you can go one step further and cover some online courses for those who want to find a job in your profession. This will also make you look good in your peers’ eyes.
Self-promotion is a key element of your career if you are always aspiring in being more than you are at this specific moment in time.
Today, I have shared with you some of the best advice I can give on this topic, pieces of advice that I, myself, applied when it came to building my own career. I hope you can learn from this and, if it is the case, provide some of your own insights on the matter.
Therefore, I will conclude with a question that may also be seen as a call to action:
What methods are you using for self-promotion and what would you add to this list, based on your own life experience?