When Self Promotion Is A Dirty Word

Self-promotion is dirty little word for some people. It seems to lack humility and nobility. It conjures up the vision of standing in front of crowds evangelising your own achievements, as if begging for a pat on the back and ‘followers’ to make you feel important.

Sales picture from Shutterstock

I had one client say that the thought of self-promotion made him feel like vomiting.

This same client couldn’t let go of the last bit of resentment after he was passed over for a promotion by someone with less experience, weaker functional skills and more “showmanship” as he called it. He continued to kick himself for not taking the lead on a project, which ended up late and over budget. Despite not being the lead, it reflected poorly on him and that silently outraged him.

Yet, he held his head high because he knew his strengths and abilities outshone most people...


Or Did They?

Like many people, he believed that if his work was good enough, it should stand out on its own. He would be recognized, promoted and compensated accordingly… and live happily ever after with the career of his dream.

Strong functional/technical skills will get you through the first couple of promotions or transitions. But when people don’t learn how to leverage and promote themselves in an engaging, value-driven and authentic way, they often find it harder to get to that next level. Owning and managing your personal brand is a key element to pushing past the plateau.

I read in a recent article, both Deloitte and PwC both rate differentiation through personal branding as a high priority. Deloitte even went so far as to say, “aim to be famous.”


What Is A Personal Brand And Do I Really Need One?

In the age of digital information, the absence of a well-constructed career brand sticks out compared to people who have one.

A personal brand is simply a consistent and authentic way that you represent yourself in your professional capacity. Think of all the way people experience ‘you’ in a professional context: Day to day meetings and interaction, your relationship building, presentations, 1-page bio, speaking engagements, industry papers/thought leadership, office workshops, networking, one-on-one meetings, Linked In, publishing opportunities, resume etc. Think reputation. Are you the "don't talk to me before I have had my coffee" person or are you the high energy "morning meetings are best" person? Either way - you are projecting your brand, albeit very differently.

Consider what you experience when you deal with a great company – from the phone call with customer service, to a sales rep, email marketing, website, language, communications, media, marketing etc. Great companies are consistent with their brand, their values, their customers and their communications.

And for the individual, social media has certainly accelerated the way in which a personal brand can drive impact and differentiation in your career.

Consider Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer. Two pro tennis players who’s personal brands could not be more different, but equally consistent with their messages, values, behaviours and experiences.

Back to self-promotion.

It’s all about perspective and intention...

Get 7 tips to jump-start your personal brand here. Molly Green is an executive and career coach and creator of the program Everyone Wants to Hire You.


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