Self-promotion can make any executive, however accomplished, feel uncomfortable. There are, however, ways to tout your achievements while remaining true to yourself and your skills. Self-promotion doesn’t automatically make you boastful or unlikable or dishonest. Self-promotion is crucial to building awareness around your knowledge and capabilities, and it can be done in an authentic, generous, and honest way. Whether you’re looking for career advancement, to better market your company, to gain clients, get financing, or build your network, self-promotion is the way to get there. Yes, it’s about branding, and yes, it’s helping you, but when handled well, self-promotion accomplishes so much more. These five strategies make self-promotion less about bragging, and more about building community in an admirable, benevolent way:
Make it About Providing Value
Successful self-promotion involves providing value to others. Don’t simply speak about yourself, speak about how your expertise can help others. Sending out an announcement about your latest degree or certificate probably won’t turn heads. But if you offer up some assistance to others hoping to better understand a similar concept or skill, suddenly you’re engaging with an audience. This might involve more informal efforts, like explaining a key takeaway to your boss or colleagues. Or it could be more formal: a blog post, a LinkedIn pulse article, a white paper, a workshop. Every strong self-promotion strategy is, in effect, an offer to help others understand what you now know. This will shape people’s perception of you and you’ll eventually be thought of as a knowledgeable executive that’s eager to engage and help others.
Engage in C-Suite Networking
Yes, networking can feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to cultivate a community. Consider joining a local chapter of a national, industry-specific organization. Or simply an executive leadership group. Something that gives you access to people who may very well become your next employee, investor, board member, employer, vendor, or mentor. The possibilities are endless. This is why it’s important to be open and genuine rather than simply cornering someone you think might be able to help you climb the corporate ladder or take your business to the next level. Seek out those to whom you can provide value. In turn, those you’ve helped will be more willing to assist you. These types of formalized networking organizations often also give participants an opportunity to share their knowledge about a topic of interest. A springboard in your efforts to position yourself as a thought leader.
Become a Thought Leader
Figure out the topics in which you’re an expert and become outspoken on them. Not simply to show yourself off, but to share your successes, failures, and lessons learned with others. Help people understand your journey and give them key takeaways that will impact their own efforts. Leverage your contacts and affiliations with associations and trade groups to secure speaking opportunities at trade show events or other relevant platforms. Write thought leadership articles and pitch them to media outlets. Or, write white papers, blog posts, or other content that can be posted online or distributed via social media. These are all activities that promote you while simultaneously benefitting your company. Plus, including such accomplishments on an executive resume will show recruiters and future employers your true value.
Leverage Social Media
Commit to one or more outlets (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and provide regular updates that are relevant to your readers. Here, you can share any content you’ve created or contributed to, but also provide short updates on your successes, as long as they’re paired with relevant articles, studies, or other content relating to your post. Including links to other resources allows you to keep your updates short, but also informative and educational for people who want to dig into a topic deeper.
Bring Others Along for the Ride
The other thing that social media is for: promoting the work and accomplishments of friends and colleagues. Be generous. This helps others, and also demonstrates to your audience that you’re an active industry participant, not a shameless self-promoter. It gives you more credibility with your followers and cultivates more supportive and respectful relationships between yourself and your colleagues. Plus, those that have been held up by you will be more likely to return the favor down the line.
Self-promotion isn’t the enemy. It’s a leadership competency. In today’s corporate environment, we can no longer simply sit back, do our work, and wait to be recognized. Your career isn’t just your job, it’s your relationship to your job, your industry, and the key players within it. It is the basis of everything. Show that you’re an active participant and a credible leader.