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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Willey

Loud and Proud: Taking Pride in Self-Promotion

When you are having a bad day, there is nothing better than having a friend, sister or mom by your side to cheer you on. Most of us have spent countless hours singing the praises of the ones we love to anyone who will listen. Yet for some reason, when it comes to self-promoting—pushing our own agendas and careers forward by sharing our brilliant ideas, strategies and successes—you can hear crickets. Let’s be honest—if your BFF was starting her own business, you’d share it with everyone you know. If someone on your team completed an important project ahead of schedule, you’d be the first to make sure your leadership team was aware. But most of us struggle with taking credit where it is due and using it strategically to advance our mission.

Of course there are many women who expertly promote their accomplishments and themselves to secure the promotions and new business they rightly deserve. But for the rest of us mere mortals, it’s more challenging. According to research by Women of Influence and Thomson Reuters: “Women cling to an outmoded assumption that their achievements will speak for themselves.” This important study recognized that self-promotion is actually the second biggest pitfall for women in business (the first is “making bold requests;” in other words, being confident enough to ASK for what you want). In fact, more than ¾ of the women included in the study expressed that a major challenge is in self-promotion, advocating for themselves, and expressing their talents (76%).

Being too humble is the equivalent of a career fumble. As we celebrate PRIDE this month, we are focused on helping you be loud and proud about your achievements to get you the recognition you deserve. Follow these 3 steps and you will be on your way to being noticed for the Superwoman that you are.

1. Step Outside Yourself

Hopefully the weather has improved so you can get outside more often—but we are not talking about stepping outside BY yourself (but you should do that too!). Rather, step outside OF yourself, so you can get a true unbiased, objective perspective of who you are, what you do and what you want to achieve. If you haven’t already created your “Confidence Catalogue,” start there.

Imagine that you are wearing a set of sunglasses—how you normally ‘see yourself’ may be through shades of blue. Now think about your closest friend/ally/confidante. Imagine her wearing a pair of rose-colored lenses. Visualize her taking those off, handing them to you and you putting them on. Now you can see yourself as she sees you. I bet this view is a lot less harsh and much brighter! Try to see yourself as she does—focus on the things she is most proud of about you. How would she brag about you to her other friends and network? Get comfortable in these glasses with this new and improved vision of you.

2. Build Your Business Plan

Think of yourself like you would your work—identify your career growth strategy and what tactics you can deploy to get there. You can essentially write a business plan for yourself, just as you would for a new product or business venture. Include all the essential elements; start with your mission statement and objectives, then list your ‘history’ that will help you get there. Identify what are the ‘Features and Benefits’ of the work you’ve been doing. Gather all the ‘Testimonials’ you can about your stellar work, then provide a detailed plan of what comes next in your ‘Operations Plan.’ Finally, build your ‘Marketing Plan’ to spread the word--which brings us to the next step.

3. Create a Roadmap

You wouldn’t go on a cross-country road trip without a map—a specific set of detailed instructions that tells you where you will go and how long it will take to arrive. So why would you wing it when you are trying to navigate your career? Just as Google Maps takes the guesswork out of when to turn and reminds you of important stops along the way, building a roadmap for how you will use your ‘Business Plan,’ who you will share it with and when, will make all the difference in the world.

Begin with the end in mind and work backwards. Where is your desired destination and when do you want to arrive? Once you nail that down, think through the steps and roadblocks so you can prepare a specific plan. What is the right ‘order of operations’ of who you will approach first with your ideas or request for a promotion? Getting buy-in along the way is critical to self-promotion.

Then you can even share your roadmap with that same confidante—the one who dons those fabulous rose-colored glasses—and have her help you find the shortest route. Or even be the Louise to your Thelma so your ride is a lot less scary, and a lot more fun (just please don’t drive off the cliff!).

With preparation and planning, self-promotion can shift from feeling impossible to “I’m Possible.”

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