The Art of Self Promotion

September 18, 2018

Jeff Hough

As the world gets more competitive, individuals who are good at the art of self-promotion seem to be at the forefront of everything. For many, promoting themselves is a very uncomfortable process.

Like the upset employee, they believe in doing good work and letting it do the talking for them. Yet, they seem surprised when things aren’t noticed or when promotions pass them by. It is upsetting when the loudmouth braggers get picked for the plum assignments.

Recently a worker shared with me their displeasure over a new promotion policy. The company went from a length of service and effort policy, to a who can brag about themselves the most policy.

This switch in policy bothered the individual. Their displeasure focused on their discomfort promoting themselves and their work. To them, it felt sleazy and uncalled for. “My work should stand for itself, without having to promote it,” they said. While true, it is unrealistic to think those above have the time/ability to keep track of everything their people do.

To overcome the fear of self-promotion, one must understand the difference between self-promotion and bragging. Author Nancy Joyce shared the difference in an article on The Muse blog.

She stated, “Self-promotion is educating relevant people about your skills and the value you bring to the organization. Bragging is over-expressing your value to relevant and irrelevant audiences for the purposes of making yourself feel secure or superior.”

Recently I read the book “Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.” It was a great book and I recommend it, even if you are not in an official marketing capacity. The premise of the book is that by developing a powerful story you create powerful connections with customers and transform your business.

While geared toward marketing, the principles also applied to the art of self-promotion. By developing a personal brand, individuals can promote themselves in a more comfortable way.

To begin building your brand, consider where you would like to end up. For example, if your goal is to become a manager, then you need to develop a “manager” brand. Begin by learning the traits and behaviors of good managers, then integrate those into your daily efforts. Finding a mentor to guide you through this learning process is invaluable. They will become your greatest advocate and help speed up the process.

The next step in building a personal brand is defining the problem you are good at solving. In marketing, there are two main problems that all products are trying to solve. Every product is trying to save someone time or money. Being able to articulate how you are good at saving the company time or money is a wonderful skill.

The final step in being a successful self-promoter is keeping a record of your accomplishments. This is important because time passes quickly and memories fade.

This list doesn’t have to be shared, but it does need to be reviewed often. In reviewing the list one can begin shaping the story of and the value of their contributions. Once you have a list to draw from, you can begin to weave those stories into conversations. Take the time to shape the stories to highlight lessons learned and skills gained.

Like any other skill, the art of self-promotion can be learned. In today’s instant gratification society, it is becoming more important than ever. Being able to share what you have “done for me lately” pays great dividends. Developing a personal brand is not only good for the soul but the pocketbook as well.

Jeff Hough is a business author, blogger and speaker in Pocatello.

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