Women have, without question, come a long way in the corporate space. However, no one can argue that we still have a long way to go; the gender gap is everywhere- from compensation all the way to the C-suite. To even begin an attempt at tackling our minimal presence in the C-suite, we first have to gain traction in the mid-level ranks.
I think most of us by now have read the article about women working in the Obama Administration and their meeting strategy called amplification. In which they offer a great tip for one very specific situation; if you’re in a meeting and there are other women who can help you get your point across – then great- try amplification. However, it only works for that particular situation.
This still leaves one big question unanswered: in general, how do you self-promote in the workplace on a regular basis?
Self-promotion is something that women need to embrace and own if we want to progress in the corporate space. We are so quick to defer to the team or highlight the accomplishments of others. Think about it: how many times have you completed a tough assignment and when you get some acknowledgement for your work you say, “it was a team effort”?
Guess what? Your boss probably already knows that, they know that you worked with a team, you gave direction to the team, the team executed a strategy, and the team accomplished the intended outcome. What you may not realize you’ve just done with your compliment deferral is essentially tell your boss that you don’t own your worth. With knowledge of self-worth and comprehension of what you bring to the table, many other opportunities will follow.
If you want that promotion, a meeting with the CEO, or an opportunity with a potential client, you will need to own your value and be able to make a case for yourself. Waiting for someone else to recognize your worth is a waste of time. Say it with me: “I will make a case for myself.”
So, just how do you make a case for yourself?
- Know your industry
It is generally understood that you need to know your profession in order to be recognized as a professional. To be credible, you must know what you are talking about and be able to execute your job well.
Staying on top of industry trends is a great place to start; know where the marketplace is heading, and what that means for your company or your clients. Keep your skills fresh by attending conferences and continuously learning in your free time. Keeping your skills relevant not only means that you will be continuously bringing new and fresh ideas to the table, but it also means that you’ll be confident when you’re talking to your company or clients.
Key takeaway: don’t settle for your current skill set, expanding them makes you that much more valuable.
- Practice for meetings
Practice talking about your achievements. Before heading into a meeting, think about the purpose of the meeting and your perspective on it. Think about how you will contribute to the meeting and hold yourself to doing just that.
When walking into a meeting, don’t shrink back. Instead, sit at a prominent place at the table. (Now I’m not suggesting that you take the President’s seat at the head of the table.) What I am suggesting is that you sit near the center of power – you literally have to position yourself as an expert to be seen as such.
Key takeaway: own your position, know you’re worth it.
- Learn how to take credit and compliments
Taking credit for a job well done can feel a bit uncomfortable and awkward. Instead, we want to be seen as likeable and usually downplay the effort it took to get the job done or try to shift the attention away from ourselves. We will often speak to all that the team did to support the achievement – because we seem to believe that team playing is the way to the top. It isn’t. Women will share credit. Men will take the credit without thinking twice. Why? Because being likeable isn’t a thing for them.
So how do you learn how to take credit? When given a compliment, graciously accept it, acknowledge that it was a tough job, and thank the giver for acknowledging your work. Will it be easy? No, the first few times you will likely need to bite back the urge to downplay your accomplishment. However, it will get easier.
It will make it that much easier if you practice paying it forward; take note of what your team members have done to get the job done and acknowledge them for it in their own right.
Key takeaway: understand that, yes, it was a team effort- you are also a part of that team- and you deserve to feel good about your accomplishments!
If you want to succeed in the workplace, you will need to get comfortable bragging about your contributions, owning the value you bring to your company, team, and clients. Self-promotion does not have to feel awkward, use the tips above to get you started.