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by Kathy Reiffenstein

In business, letting others know about your skills, your ideas and your accomplishments is key to advancing your career. Yet, as women, we are frequently reluctant to do this, feeling it will make us sound too conceited or too aggressive.

Although it’s dangerous to generalize, studies have shown that men are better at self promotion than women. Men tend to be more focused on how to further their career goals while women are more concerned about relationships in the workplace and getting along with co-workers.

Unfortunately, expecting that others will notice what a great job you’re doing and reward you appropriately isn’t always a viable strategy. Being shy about communicating your strengths ultimately hurts you and your company, as both lose out on the larger contributions you could make.

So how do you self promote with professionalism and style?

IDENTIFY WHO TO BRAG TO

Everyone in your office or professional circle doesn’t need to know about all your skills and successes. Identify the people who can be instrumental in helping you achieve your goals – these are the people who definitely need to know what you’re capable of, what you’ve done successfully in the past, what you aspire to.

These influential people will likely include your boss, senior leaders in the organization, key clients and anyone who has a large network of contacts in these groups, and therefore some potential influence.

THINK FROM YOUR AUDIENCE’S PERSPECTIVE

When deciding what information to convey about yourself, think what would be helpful to the influential people you’ve identified. What do they need to know about you to help them assess how you may be able to make a bigger or different contribution? For example, attending professional lectures and conferences outside of work can demonstrate that you are dedicated to improving your skills. In turn, this could persuade your boss that you are the perfect candidate for the new management training program.

DEVELOP YOUR STORIES

Create some stories that clearly illustrate some of your strengths and accomplishments. Practice them so that when you tell them to others, they flow smoothly and cover the points you want to make. Being professional in your approach will make you more comfortable. When talking about what you can offer or your previous successes relate this to the current needs of your company, your department or your boss. That way it sounds less like bragging and more like offering help and making the relevant people aware of your talents.

SHOW, DON’T JUST TELL

It’s fine to tell people what you’re good at but it’s far more memorable to show them. Look for opportunities to prove how capable you are in specific areas by volunteering for projects or committees where you can demonstrate relevant skills.

Write articles for professional publications in your industry; search out speaking engagements which showcase your abilities; mentor others, either formally or informally, to illustrate your competency in certain areas.

MAKE OTHERS YOUR AMBASSADORS

Enlist others to endorse you. It’s always more powerful when someone other than you talks about how talented you are. But it’s important to control the message. Make sure that when others are talking about you, you have given them appropriate facts and examples so they can speak credibly and share the relevant information.

If you are one of the many talented women who have been reluctant to talk about the skills and accomplishments you have to offer, it’s time to shift your mindset. You owe it to both yourself and your company to ensure all the appropriate people know just how good you are. As three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”


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