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The right way to promote yourself at work

‘How to get noticed without looking like a w@nker’ was the original working title of this ICON Queensland event. It certainly got the message across: self-promotion is important, but to be handled with care.

The event - Self Promotion is not a Dirty Word - was held on Wednesday 2 May in Queensland and featured a panel comprised of Keira Brennan, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright; Kristie Fankhauser, Partner at Fifth-Eagle; James Rimmer, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Cooper Grace Ward; and Cassandra Vickers, Senior Associate at u&u Recruitment Partners.

The group led a fun and insightful discussion about the best methods to use for self-promotion without compromising yourself. It was a reminder that in professional services, and many broader B2B organisations, that you are selling people and relationships so you must have good interpersonal skills, maturity, emotional intelligence, self-awareness and empathy. 

Here are some of their ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for successful self-promotion.

Don’t be self-absorbed

Avoid talking about “me” or “I did x and was excellent” or “I am fabulous at…”. There is a difference between building a profile and self-aggrandisement.

Do prepare and research

It is essential to enter a performance conversation or an interview with the ability to articulate your contribution to projects. It demonstrates that you are self-aware and that you have a clear understanding what the project was designed to do and what the outcome was. Have a good understanding of who you are promoting yourself to. It will benefit both you and them to consider which of your skills they would find the most valuable. This initiative is impressive and aids their business.

Don’t take responsibility for others work

Things are rarely done in isolation. Most are team efforts, so don’t forget about the role of others and don’t take credit for things they did. Also make sure you don’t talk others down to try to boost yourself. For example, saying “I stepped in and picked up x because person y wasn’t up to the job” probably won’t win you many friends in the office – up or down the chain.

Do give credit to others

It is easy to fall into the trap of only talking about yourself or becoming focused on your own involvement and contribution while you are trying to promote yourself. Giving due credit to others highlights that you are collegiate in nature, play well with others and have leadership qualities.

Don’t forget about your weaknesses

Understand your weaknesses and be prepared to work towards improving those areas. Be proactive and raise any issues with your manager with options that will help you thrive. Make sure you also use tools that you have at your fingertips, such as reading books, blogs and watching TED talks. Showing initiative demonstrates you are not only good at what you do, but you want to be better.

Do find a mentor

Mentors offer a way to learn from more experienced people and allow you to create new connections in your field. No matter where you are in your career you will be able to learn more from others. It’s important to remember that your mentor doesn’t have to be from your exact profession, they can generally be from the same industry or just help in a broader context. Think about what you want or need from a mentoring relationship and find the person with the skills or knowledge that fits that need.

Don’t hide behind emails

Take the time to form face-to-face connections with your mentors and other business connections. If you’re in the same area or in the same city take the time to catch up with people, take them out for coffee, you can gain so much from meeting them in person. If meeting in person isn’t an option try to schedule a time to call, speaking on the phone is still far more personal than emailing.

Do improve your writing

Even though you’re not hiding behind emails, the ability to articulate yourself eloquently and express ideas through different media channels is essential to increasing your reputation. Often you are writing for a variety of people and your writing should reflect the style your audience needs. Adaptability and effective communication with your audience is another key feature of good self-promotion. Your writing will speak for you.

Don’t neglect your social media

Good social media promotion is essential, especially via LinkedIn. Not only does it allow you to connect with colleagues and industry professionals, it is a platform to share your experiences and achievements. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile and your resume match to maintain consistency.

Remember self-promotion is important when you’re trying to establish or further your career, but it must be handled in the right manner. If not, it could end up sending you backwards.