I was always taught to be humble when it came to business accomplishments and self-promotion. Say Thank You, smile, make sure others get some of the credit, and don’t boast. While this isn’t specifically bad advice, I’ve had to learn how to do this while still being my own advocate. When it comes time for a job interview, a promotion, networking opportunities, and gaining new clients, if we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one else will either.
The key is to learn to be grateful (not necessarily humble) and learn to self-promote without bragging.
When interviewing for a new job, we need to assume that the interviewer knows nothing about us. Sure, they’ve probably reviewed your resume, but trust me when I tell you that most of that information is merely scanned. Make sure to highlight significant accomplishments, promotions, or awards. Describe how overcoming a challenge allowed you to grow and become a better employee. Discuss ways in which you learned from other team members and managers. Be sure that you explain to the interviewer why you are the best person for the job. Because if you don’t tell them, no one is going to do it for you.
Negotiating a promotion requires similar efforts. Chances are the person offering you the promotion knows much more about your history and work accomplishments. But don’t be shy to remind them. Enter the negotiations prepared with a list of your accomplishments, a summary of ways in which you’ve helped the company or saved them money, and a plan for how you will be able to excel in the new position. Stand tall on your own merits while giving credit to the team that has supported you.
Adding to our networks and gaining new clients are times when we really need to be aware of our strengths. We need to “sell” ourselves to these strangers in hopes that they’ll value our opinions and give us a chance. So be real with them. Tell them what you do and why you do it well. If you have learned from experts in your field, if you have landed large respected clients, or if you have been awarded with company or industry recognition, don’t be shy about telling people! This is not bragging, so long as it is factual. It becomes bragging if this is the only tool you use and you always repeat the same information.
And if you’re a leading expert in your field, advertise it. You don’t need to flaunt it but people need to know that you can give them the best service or product. Just be prepared to back up the statement.
Always thank people for their time. No matter the circumstances – in person, on the phone, or online – if someone has taken the time to listen to you, thank them. And do it sincerely.
Business can be a cut-throat world. Some of us have to learn this lesson the hard way. There are times in business when we have to be patient and times when we have to hit the ground running. Either way, you are the only one who really understands you. You are the only one who can promote yourself. You need to believe in yourself before anyone else will.