Self-Promotion: 3 Ways to Do It Right

Professional Development


There comes a time in everyone’s career when they’re ready to take it to the next level. And with annual performance reviews just around the corner for many, career advancement might be on your mind. However, getting where you want to go professionally has become increasingly more challenging.

Self-Promotion is Self-Preservation

That’s where self-promotion comes in. Attitudes towards self-promotion have changed in recent years, as people have come to recognize that it’s a self-preservation strategy. If your role is dynamic and fast-paced, as they often are in sales and marketing, you’ll want to promote your proven track record of success and how you can keep up with the pace.

Understanding when and where to self-promote can be your biggest advantage to encourage your team and leaders to see you as a valuable member. Perspective is everything, and you can’t assume that your colleagues see all of your hard work and dedication. It’s up to you to express how all your achievements help connect the dots to who you are, what you can bring to the table, and where you want to go.

These days, most people already practice some sort of self-promotion to highlight that they’re a self-affirmed expert, exceptional leader, innovator, or specialist. Unfortunately, an article published on Forbes, “Why Is Self-Promotion So Hard For Women?“, revealed that women have a higher propensity (compared to men) to view self-promotion as being pretentious, boastful, or self-centered. While excessive self-promotion can have adverse effects, it’s important to understand how to do it effectively to rise above your competition and showcase your talents. In fact, among the career advancement tactics studied by Catalyst, one stood out as having the greatest impact: self-promotion. Those who made their achievements known were happier with their careers and had more significant compensation growth.

Here are three ways you can use self-promotion effectively:

1. Get Others to Promote You

Self-promotion, at first, can feel awkward since you’re tooting your own horn. However, it just takes a few baby steps to feel fully comfortable expressing all the great things you’ve achieved. For one, consider having others do it for you. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the right words to describe yourself. (Many of us have experienced this when writing our own bios.) A good place to start is to use other people’s opinions about you to strengthen your work.

When you do a great job on a project, you typically get recognized by others (e.g. peers, managers, customers, etc.). This can come as a verbal accolade or written praise, and it’s your responsibility to take notes and use it to your self-promotion advantage. Being in a customer-facing position as a Business Consultant, I often get feedback from our clients after we complete a project. To keep track of it, I created a folder in my inbox that separates it from my other emails. That way, when I’m asked about any outstanding work, accomplishments, or completed projects, our customers’ words are at my fingertips.

If you haven’t received very much feedback, encourage those who you work with to provide some. Of course, not all feedback will be positive, but all can be opportunities for growth. If you receive negative feedback, evaluate what went wrong and how you plan on making it better in the future. Then, when you turn the experience around, you can use that recognition as fuel for your self-promotion.

2. Use Online Self-Promotion to Share Your Most Significant Achievements

With all the different ways you can now promote yourself online (e.g. personal website, LinkedIn, etc.), your personal brand has become increasingly more visible. An online profile can showcase all of your credentials, from your work experience to your hobbies, to distinguish you from other professionals. However, this presents a new set of challenges on its own.

Some people might feel inclined to over-season their online profiles with boastful verbiage because they want to stand out. But that could be more damaging than helpful. Excessive self-praise can send the wrong message and come off as bragging or boasting. A word to the wise: keep it short and sweet and limit your use of self-promotion online. Promote only the significant career achievements and keep it short.

Also, when you’re promoting online, honesty is the best policy. It has become increasingly easier to check whether what someone is saying online is accurate or not. You should be upfront with your experience and expertise. If you want to promote that you’re an expert on a subject, then make sure you have a certification or experience that supports it. For example, at Marketo, users can become a Marketo Certified Expert, which supports their expert status through a technical assessment. On the other hand, if you have little experience in something, then be transparent and add that to areas you would like to explore and enhance.

3. Promote Others and Yourself at the Same Time

Giving praise is often a lot easier than pushing for it. And in showing your appreciation for others, you can self-promote as well. Here’s how it works: During a project or after it wraps up, you can share what your teammates did well. In the process, you can also promote what you did alongside them.

A good place to do this is when you’re sharing your results with the rest of the team or key stakeholders. Most organizations focus on collaboration, so it’s often counterintuitive to try to stand out and promote your individual achievements. Instead, highlight how each of your team members contributed to the project’s success as well as your own impact on the project. It makes it easier for you to open up about what a great job you did when you’re not just talking about yourself the whole time. This pays off in the long run as well. Getting that promotion feels better when you’ve self-promoted in the right ways. When you get to the top of the chain, it can be lonely if you haven’t adequately appreciated the team that helped you get there.

Self-promotion is important for career advancement, but first you need to understand how to do it right. To self-promote correctly, remember to keep track of how others praise you, self-promote only your biggest achievements, and master the ability to give credit to those who support you. What other tips do you have for self-promotion? Share them in the comments!