Do you want self promotion to feel more authentic?

This week I got a call from a leader at one of the big airlines that I fly on regularly.  I wanted to talk with her about making sure I don’t fly on one of the aircraft that’s been having software troubles(!) but what she called to talk about is: “I’ve had all these accomplishments but I was given feedback that senior leaders don’t know who I am…So I’m stagnating.”

While speaking at Conferences for the past few weeks, during women’s history month, I’ve been on a listening tour…

What’s one of the themes I’ve heard from women – whether you are trying to get to the next level, interviewing for next role, or just wanting to be effective at networking events?  The bane of your existence (other than email and meetings!) is having to promote yourself.

What comes to mind when you think you need to ‘self promote’ more, do you think:

  • It’s easier to praise other people than myself…
  • I was taught not to be ‘too big for my britches’…
  • It feels icky to be someone who is ‘braggart’…
  • I don’t feel worthy of bragging…
  • I don’t feel comfortable with the attention on me…

You know that you must promote yourself in order to get next level opportunities, be hired, get clients, etc. but it probably feels like something you ‘should’ do, not something you want to do or feel capable of.

How can you get more comfortable with self promotion? Try these 5 Mindset Shifts to help you:

Mindset Shift #1I don’t want to ‘brag’; no one likes someone who is full of themselves

Let me ask you:  ‘what is the difference you want to make in the world’?…

Who do you want to help? And how do you want to help them through your work? (maybe its your patients, your clients, or your community or family members you can help by being a successful role model).

Self promotion is not about ‘bragging’. It’s about “briefing”.

It is about helping senior leaders, or your manager, or prospects know what you can do or how you could help them, so they can help you achieve your mission. Self promotion thus becomes ‘helping them to help you’ fulfill your purpose and mission.

Mindset Shift #2: I don’t want to draw attention to myself – in my culture we are taught humility 

Shift from putting attention on ‘you’, to bringing attention to the contribution you can make to others.

It’s not about talking about how great you are. It’s talking about what you can do for your manager, for the organization, or for your prospects.

This is especially helpful in overcoming the gender biased social judgement that can accrue when you, as a women, are talking about yourself and your own contributions. It is also a helpful negotiation strategy when you are asking for more resources or salary.

Mindset Shift #3I doubt myself; what if I’m not really that great and other people don’t find me worthy of ‘bragging’ about myself?

It’s important to be ‘objective’.

If you are unsure that your accomplishments will help others, then seek out information. Ask for feedback and pay attention to the feedback you’ve been given.  Look at benchmarks for success in your role

 (You might not have received candid feedback because we know that ‘lack of candid feedback’ is a common bias for all women and especially women of color, and that men are given more feedback about their effectiveness toward business outcomes while women are given more feedback about their ‘communication style’).

And remember, ‘self promotion’ is not about whether you are ‘good enough’ or whether other people will be impressed by you.

It’s about letting them know what you can do for them.

Mindset Shift #4: I don’t have opportunities to self promote

When it comes to opportunities to promote yourself, don’t wait – create!  Yes its good to be prepared with an ‘elevator pitch’ when you run into a senior leader in the hallway, but you also want to be proactive and create those opportunities to connect.

Who are the stakeholders that can weigh in on your promotion?  Who could introduce you to influencers in your community?  Have a plan to proactively reach out to them.  Find out more about what they are up to and how you can help them.  Share with them what you are doing and how it could be applied to them.

Mindset Shift #5:  It’s icky to have to convince people of what I can do

I agree! If you feel like you are having to convince it means you’ve already lost your power in the situation.  It creates an energy that feels ‘forced’.

Sometimes when you feel insecure, you talk about what you’ve done to convince yourself you are worthy.  Sometimes you tell others how great you are in order to convince others to think well of you.  But both of those situations are about regulating your own self esteem, they are not helping the other person to know what you can do for them.

Its important to share what you’ve done in order to build credibility, but credibility comes from credentials plus connection.  Its not about lording over other people what you’ve done (that disconnects).  Its about sharing your experience (results, certifications) in the context of letting people know what you can do for them.

And if you get the sense you are having to convince people, change your energy.  Have more of a sense of enjoyment about what you’ve accomplished and be passionate about how you could bring that value to help the person you’re talking to or someone they could introduce you to.

What’s your experience with Self Promotion (rewarding or challenging?) Share below or reach out at (I’m writing an article on this so I’d love to hear from you)!

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