Mastering the Subtle Art of Self-Promotion

This month I caught up with an old colleague of mine, Jane Hillsdon, who has been very successful running her own business Dragonfly Marketing. We had a great discussion on how HR people could be a lot better at self promotion when it comes to our careers. Here are some thoughts and techniques for greater visibility that Jane shared with us.

I despise the term shameless self-promotion. It implies that the act of self-promotion is something to be shameful about.

Self-promotion. Assertive self-advocacy. Call it what you will, just don’t associate it with shame.

Because when it comes to your career, there is no shame in amplifying your visibility. If you are good at what you do and you want to serve more people, you need to let more people know about you. It’s as simple as that.

Studies show that people who self-promote have better chances of being hired, promoted or getting a pay rise or bonus.

This is because self-promotion is perceived as a form of confidence and there is a growing body of research that shows that success correlates with confidence as much as it does with competence.

When 240 senior leaders of a Silicon Valley tech company were asked to name the factors that got them promoted to their level, they claimed that visibility was the most important factor in their advancement. This eclipsed professional expertise, delivering business results, or leadership skills. (i)

So, if you are ambitious and if you want to experience the same opportunities as everybody else, then self-promotion may be something you need to get more comfortable with.

The great news is that it is possible to promote your expertise and tell your story to ensure greater visibility, in a way that won’t cause backlash from your peers.

Here are three tried and tested techniques to do so.

1. Tell people what you do without telling people what you do
If you are using social media channels as a platform to increase your visibility, firstly be proactive about connecting with the people that you need to gain visibility with. Then, instead of showing up with content that simply lists your skills and talks about you, show up with content that demonstrates your skills and ultimately helps your audience to succeed. A great way to do this is by sharing thought leadership content and helpful information. Share this information in a way that clearly shows your passion for a topic and demonstrates the depth of your knowledge and expertise. This enthusiasm is often really infectious and positions you as a go-to person on that topic matter.

2. Proudly celebrate your wins
If you win an award, tell people. If you achieve a massive milestone in your career, tell people about it. If you get an awesome testimonial or review, share it with your audience. People LOVE hearing this information.
Whenever we post this kind of news out via social media on behalf of a client, the engagement goes through the roof. Their team, their customers, their stakeholders and local community all love to share in the excitement of their win. Plus, there are likely to be many people within your immediate community that gain confidence and assurance that they are working with a super star!

3. Shine a light on others
Sometimes it can be so much easier to talk about other people than it is to talk about yourself. A great opportunity is to talk about your customers. By highlighting successful customer case studies, you can demonstrate the types of people that you work well with and the success that they have as a result of working with you. This kind of storytelling wholeheartedly shines the light on your customers while also providing a very subtle reference to your work.

You could also highlight superstars in your team. When people join your business, it’s great to be able to share this news with your community and talk about the skills that they bring to your business. This is a great reflection on your business and the type of team that you build as a leader of that team or business.

Self-promotion should be something that you feel comfortable embracing without judgement. If self-promotion is the difference between you gaining a new client, getting that promotion or even just ensuring that people know what it is that you actually do in your career, then shouldn’t this activity be on all of our agendas.

By demonstrating your expertise with considered and helpful content, always sharing your wins and shining a light on others, you can successfully ensure that you are engaging in the not-so-subtle art of self-promotion and gain the recognition and the exposure to the opportunities that you deserve.

Jane Hillsdon is a passionate award-winning marketer dedicated to helping small businesses in regional Australia create high impact marketing campaigns with a small budget.

She is the founder and CEO of Dragonfly Marketing, author of How To Do Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide For Small Business and host of The How To Do Marketing Show. Jane created the book and the podcast to help business owners employ smart strategy and creative thinking to help ensure that their marketing delivers a healthy return on investment for their business.

A passionate and committed advocate to the marketing profession, Jane is a Certified Practicing Marketer, Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute NSW Committee, a Mentor in the Australian Marketing Institute Emerging Marketers program and a judge for the Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Excellence.