Here’s something I know for sure: The most successful people aren’t necessarily the smartest people. But what they are fantastic at is self-promotion. Marketing themselves. Selling their skills like the rent is due tonight.
The tricky part is that, to most of us, self-promotion doesn’t come naturally.
Like, at all.
We cringe. We clam up. We feel next-level awkwardness. But if you want to thrive? Take comfort from the fact self-promotion is uncomfortable for most of us, and then do it anyway.
Here are six ways to get started.
1. Change your perspective.
First things first: There’s no shame in self-promotion. There’s only shame in keeping quiet about your skills.
You have a choice: you can either stay in the safe, silent zone (where you’re doing yourself a major disservice), or you can put yourself out there and make things happen.
Life is too short to stay silent about all you have to offer. Choose the latter.
2. Up your online game.
Exercise: Take five minutes to review your LinkedIn profile through the eyes of a potential client or recruiter. Really look at it objectively, and ask yourself the tough questions:
- What makes it different from the next person in your field?
- Is your profile honestly attention-grabbing?
- Does your profile reflect your personality in any way, or could it belong to anyone?
Read it out loud and hear how it sounds to someone else. While I’m not saying it needs to read like a Daily Mail headline, you’re so much better than beige.
3. Tell your story.
Next step: your bio. Branding is all about storytelling, and your personal bio is no different.
Real talk: nobody cares that you’re organized, hard-working, diligent…who isn’t on LinkedIn? People care about what you’ve achieved and why you do what you do. Ultimately, they care about you. This bio, originally featured in The Muse, is one of the best I’ve read. It’s the perfect balance of personable and professional:
“My business cards say such things as career strategist, recruiter and resume writer.
But when you get right down to it, I’m much more — I’m a marketer, an entrepreneur, a blogger, a social media strategist and a technical geek (ask me anything about robots, 18-wheelers or applicant tracking systems, seriously).
I’m also a big believer in the power of branding.
I believe that we, as humans, don’t buy “stuff.” We don’t make decisions based on features and benefits. We make decisions based on emotion, “gut feel” and brand promise.
We buy when we are moved. We buy when we are captivated and engaged to the point that we drop whatever it is we’re doing and say, “Oh, heck yes. I need me some of THAT.”
And so I teach people and companies how to create that reaction. I teach job seekers and corporations seeking new talent how to communicate their brands in memorable, engaging, and high personality ways, so that they will attract the right audiences and move them toward their core goals.
Specialties include: Job search strategy, career coaching, resume writing, recruiting, LinkedIn makeovers, copy writing, corporate outplacement, public speaking/presentations, social media marketing and branding. I’m also very good at Scrabble and I make a mean margarita.
I’m right over at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever want to talk careers, job search or marketing. You can also find me at JobJenny.com.”
Inspiring, right?! Bring yourself into your bio. You won’t regret it.
Pro tip: In January 2017, LinkedIn had a major redesign. Your summary is no longer fully shown at first glance (to read further, a viewer needs to click to expand). FYI, it’s 220 characters for desktop, and 92 for mobile. Make those first characters count.
4. Quantify your achievements.
I tell my coaching clients this all the time:
It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you achieve.
So you “managed email marketing”? That’s great and worth mentioning, but so did every other marketing manager out there. People care about what percentage you increased open rates by. They care about the click-through rates. They care about the bottom line and how you contributed to it. Even if you’re in a creative role, reference your impact in numbers. E.g. “my subject lines saw open rates increase by 40%”. BOOM. Business people talk in numbers. Make sure you do, too.
5. Keep an achievements list.
This one’s simple: no matter what industry you’re in, keep track of your achievements, big and small. I keep mine in a Google doc, and refer back to it whenever I’m going for a raise, a new job, a new project, or simply need a confidence boost.
6. Promote other people.
If the idea of promoting your work on the regular has you breaking out in hives, my advice is simple: start by promoting other people first. Get used to sharing, congratulating, and celebrating those around you. Do so daily. Then, over time, start weaving in your own work. Self-promotion is like a muscle. It gets better (read: easier) every time you use it. Share the blog post. Shout about the achievement. Retweet the praise. Tell your story. Your future self is counting on it.
Bianca is a writer sharing honest musings on careers, creativity, money and more. She has interned at Vogue, consulted some of the biggest names in branding and e-commerce and currently leads the copywriting team at TripAdvisor. Follow her via her blog and on Twitter.
Image via Unsplash