The importance of self-promotion in your career

The importance of self-promotion in your career

The concept of self-promotion took me many years to realize the absolute pivotal nature it plays in career advancement. I am not talking about flamboyant, over-the-top, self-promotion that damages your career but the carefully planned self-promotion that advances your career. Most of us will never be fortunate enough to have somebody high enough on the corporate food chain to act as a champion on our behalf. This is something we must do for ourselves.

People spend many years of their career with their noses down and doing a good job but very few people will ever notice. This is an unpleasant but an accurate look at today’s workplace. Your coworkers and management are focused on their jobs and their own problems. If something is working well they are just pleased that they do not have to deal with it is a problem. This goes up and down the entire length of the corporate ladder.

Once I realized that I needed to start promoting myself internally, life started to get better. Advancements started happening, and I was assigned to more challenging projects. I wish I could take credit for this marvelous realization, but it was really just an observation that I made of some of my peers.

I made it my mission to have a conversation with as many executives as I could each month. I tried to bring them some little nugget of information or ask them a question that I thought was insightful. In conversation, I would bring up a recent success, we had achieved that may have had some loose bearing on the executives department or initiative I heard about the halls. I made sure to praise and thank, both publicly and privately, those people who helped me on any project. On occasions where I receive public praise, I would thank the person for their kind comments and immediately give all the glory and praise away to my team. This sounds counterintuitive, but it works very well. The more you give heartfelt praise and glory to your team, the better you shine.

Once members of the organization were comfortable with me, I started to find about additional projects that other departments were planning. I made appeals to manage them with my department head. Most of the time my requests were denied, but again, I was setting a mental impression of my desire to grow and learn new areas. Slowly, I started getting additional unique and fun assignments. This created some positive momentum that I capitalized on to my advantage. I remembered something I read in a book once that went roughly along the lines of always building on successes so you may achieve another success; this is momentum and it has a tremendous upward spiraling effect.

I have never been a flamboyant self-promoter. I find these people do not tend to get the results they are attempting to achieve. Be subtle and calculated in your self-promotion.  Pass praise and glory to your team and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. Remember in management’s eyes, any success or failure the team experiences will always be attributed to the team leader.

3 thoughts on “The importance of self-promotion in your career

  1. Hi Michael – great post! Great story too, and one I recognize. A lesson I learnt is that, as a leader, we are given credit for the results of the work of followers. Credit, of course, can work both ways… positive and negative. Once we realize this, it can open up all sorts of opportunities for leadership.

    A wise leader of mine taught me about ‘10% credit’ – wherever we support people to achieve results, we’re naturally given 10% credit (it’s an arbritray number, but suggests a significant portion). Many 10% add up to a lot, so if we inspire and lead people to achieve many great things, then the credit we receive is also great.
    .-= Simon Stapleton´s last blog ..7 Keys To Describe Your Achievements =-.

    1. Hi Simon,

      I totally agree with the idea about the leader getting the credit or blame for project results. No matter how much credit I try to give away for a successful project, it come back to me 10 fold. The same goes for the blame.

      I think a lot of young managers forget this point. When they make excuses for failures, they really are doing themselves a dis-service. It makes them look weaker then they would have otherwise.

      I love the 10% analogy, it drives right to the point.

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