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Does self-promotion have to be shameless?

By Sarah Bloomfield on 12.05.17 in Your Career

Shouting about your own success is uncomfortable for most of us, and understandably so. There is a fine line between being proud of your accomplishments and being brash and boastful, but it's worth working on because it's integral to your career progression.

It's your responsibility to keep your boss updated with your ongoing projects and recent accomplishments; many managers are too busy to appreciate the minutiae of your day-to-day schedule and achievements. Also, if you don't toot your own horn then who will?

Incorporating a few of these tips into your self-promotion strategy should help you get recognised in the office, and hopefully secure you the pay rise and promotion you deserve.

Promote your work first, yourself second

Focus on doing great work first, and building your brand second. If you've ever been asked to identify your three best or worst traits during an interview then you know how awkward talking about yourself can be. It's a lot easier - and actually a lot more worthwhile - to tell your boss about specific projects you've been working on and the results they've engendered.

Excellent work and positive feedback from clients or internal stakeholder are much more likely to secure you promotion than subjective boastfulness about how productive you've felt you've been recently. When you share your success with your boss or team mates do so with genuine passion; it's infectious and will portray you in a positive light.

Take every opportunity

This is especially important if you don't have regular one-on-one meetings with your line manager. Even when your boss casually asks you how you're doing, use this as an opportunity to inform them or something exciting which you're currently working on.

Similarly, seize opportunities at weekly team meetings, AGMs, socials and so on to share your successes with the wider team where appropriate. This has the dual benefit of not only informing everyone of how productive you've been, but also getting your name out there as an integral team member.

Play to your audience

While the above two points work across most industries and cater to most personalities, you will have to slightly adapt your approach depending on the particular sensitivities of your boss.

Some line-managers won't mind a slightly heavy-handed approach whereby you shout a little louder about your successes, while others will find it obnoxious and are attentive enough to know all the necessary details of your work schedule without you constantly reminding them. It might take some time to refine your exact self-promotion strategy depending on whether you are lucky enough to have a boss that notices all your excellent work and gives you the support and acknowledgement you deserve or whether you have one that needs reminding on a regular basis.

Help others

Often the best way to be successful is to surround yourself with high-achievers. If everyone around you is getting great results, then they're likely to spur you on to be the best you can be too.

Similarly, let your colleagues become your biggest supporters. By lending a hand or volunteering your skills you both come across as a generous team player and also guarantee yourself a few new brand ambassadors to do your promotion for you. A bonus is that giving something back and mentoring or helping others feels pretty good too

…But benchmark yourself against them

Being a team player is important, but overstretching yourself can be fatal. Make sure you're not being too generous with your time, as people will take advantage of you and you won't have any time to deliver your best work.

Be aware of what rate all of your colleagues are progressing at and then benchmark yourself against them. Try and keep a record of the general time-scales for promotion and then try and beat them!

Pride before a fall

A successful self-promotion strategy requires you to do the hard work first. You need to make sure you are producing excellent work and that colleagues and clients around you can rely on you to always deliver - before you start on this plan.

Unless your boss is very inexperienced they'll quickly be able to identify baseless bluster and braggadocio. If you feel confident enough that you are doing great work, then it's paramount you let other people know about it.

Informing your colleagues and superiors of your hard work without ruffling any feathers is the tricky part. Hopefully, by employing a mix of the above five tips, you'll be able to rise through the ranks without making any enemies on the way up.