Self Promotion: How to do so with integrity

Sara Knapp

Post by Sara Knapp, Executive Coach

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Hmmmm.... How about this one: If you’re doing a bang-up job and nobody knows it, will you get the credit and rewards you deserve? 

The fact is, people who make it to the top in their fields in business aren’t just good at their jobs. With a few rare exceptions, they’re also masters of self-promotion. They don’t wait for kudos to come to them. They get right out there and claim them. 

Here’s how to get yourself noticed by the right people without being seen as just a big talker or a big...well, you know…. 

Numbers don’t lie. Get used to monitoring and promoting your own performance in ways that can be measured. Include facts and numerical data in reports for your team and your boss. If you don’t know how, find someone, maybe in finance, who can show you how numbers can be applied to what you do, and then interpreted for, and presented at, senior levels.

Get known as a specialist or expert in your area. Find ways to tell others what you know. Even if the people you want to impress already know the area you cover, they won’t have heard your perspective on it. So editorialize a little. Offer your views on the other guy’s perspective, too. Draw attention to yourself by sharing information, highlighting issues or even profiling others.

Ask for challenges and plum assignments. Your boss and other higher-ups aren’t mind readers. Tell them what you want for your career and where you think you can contribute. Never, EVER, think your work will speak for itself and that it’s enough to just do a good job. Laying low can be interpreted as a lack of interest or ambition.

Get to know the big guys. It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than have an opportunity and not be prepared. Once, I found myself alone in an elevator with a new executive vice president—and his bodyguard! I stuck out my hand, told him who I was, what I did and which of his subordinates I worked for. A few months later, a job opened up that reported directly to him and I had the qualifications. I immediately got an interview.

Get comfortable with public speaking. Nothing, absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G, will get you better profile and win you more points than being able to stand up and talk in front of people, sounding reasonably intelligent and coherent in the process. It’s a skill. It can be learned. Sign up for Toastmasters if you need help. The butterflies may never go away completely, but they will stop paralyzing you. Try it. Then listen to what people say about you and your career potential.