6 tips to improve your self-promotion skills

Successful self-promotion is a necessary career survival skill for any tech professional -- and it’s especially true for women in IT. Here's how to do it right.

promoting yourself in the workplace

Tips for improving your self-promotion skills

Successful self-promotion is critical in today's competitive, hyper-social work world. Especially for women looking to get ahead and make their mark in IT, self-promotion is no longer just a professional advantage -- it's become a career survival skill.

"Your career success depends on your ability to promote yourself correctly. Yet many people have a blatant inability to properly express their value to higher-ups and hiring managers. Employers must know your real value. Otherwise, you'll find yourself on the losing end professionally. You won't get the job, the raise, the promotion, the respect and recognition you deserve," says, career consultant, speaker and author of Promote! It's Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career.

Thankfully, self-promotion is a skill that's easy to master. Here's how to do it right.

1. Don\'t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do

1. Don't assume that your boss knows exactly what you do

Whether you work six feet or 6,000 miles away from your boss, it's unlikely he has more than a general idea about what you do beyond the minimum he expects, Gillis says. "Your boss probably has countless other responsibilities than his direct reports, and is increasingly stretched too thin. And you think he knows exactly what you do? Not a chance. It's up to you to actively promote yourself by updating him or her on your activities, your accomplishments and your experiences whenever you can," he says.

LinkedIn can be a valuable resource to help you tell your story, too, says Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at recruiting solutions software company Lever. "Women can do well by having others help tell their story. LinkedIn recommendations can be hugely important. Current and past employers are in a great position to talk about your impact and value, so reach out to get those kudos," says Srinivasan.

2. Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging

2. Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging

As a kid, you were likely taught that modesty is the best policy -- better to let others discover your greatness on their own, right? That sounds good in the hypothetical, but in reality, that won't happen unless you practice self-promotion, Gillis says.

"This is especially true for women, who often are socialized not to shout about their accomplishments. Don't be shy about sharing your accomplishments, content you've developed, finished products and achievements on social channels. Contribute to discussions on LinkedIn or on blogs and join discussions within professional organizations you follow. You'll showcase your opinion, and highlight what you care about professionally, and that can not only boost your profile in your current job, it can catch the eye of recruiters if you're trying to land a new role," says Srinivasan.

[ Related stories: 6 things women want at work ]

3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative

3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative

In any workplace, you're seen first as a commodity, not a person. Accordingly, you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments - the things that express your commercial value to the business, Gillis says. "You want to keep a short list of your most recent or most impressive accomplishments in the front of your mind. You want to be able to rattle those things off the tip of your tongue anytime, anywhere and to anyone," says Gillis.

Consider keeping an accomplishments journal, too -- either hand-written or digital -- so that when it's time for your performance review, you can easily access and show what you've done in the near-term and in the long-term, he says.

4 quantify worth

4. Quantify your worth

You were hired because someone believed that you'd produce more value for the company than you'd cost, Gillis says. Arm yourself with data about how much you've made the company, how much you've saved the company and tie that to your value as an employee, he says.

"Consider, for instance, a payroll clerk I once worked with. In the first run he ever did at his company, he cut 6,000 paychecks alone, on time, with zero returns. Think of the cost savings created by an error-free check run of that size. That's value," Gillis says.

5. Source and shape your success stories

5. Source and shape your success stories

Unless you are just starting out or have a superhuman memory, you'll need to do some heavy lifting to track down your past accomplishments -- end results, problems solved, projects completed on time and on budget, and so forth -- but it's worth it to do so, Gillis says. To begin, look at old resumes, business planners, performance reviews and journals. Then reach out to family, friends, managers, co-workers and customers, preferably by phone to avoid generic responses, he says. You can also use LinkedIn and social media, says Srinivasan.

"Again, LinkedIn is a great tool to use for getting recommendations. Make sure you're accumulating about one to three for each role you've had -- any more than that becomes overwhelming, and turns off potential readers," says Srinivasan.

[ Related stories: How to diversify your IT hiring pipeline ]

6. Master the three-part accomplishment statement

6. Master the three-part accomplishment statement

Your accomplishments must be crafted into a single three-part statement with a distinct beginning, middle and end, and it should be backed up by concrete data you can point to during conversations with your manager, Gillis says.

"You'll be able to quickly and clearly convey what you did, what that resulted in, and the value or net result. For example, 'I created a digital filing system that resulted in a savings of 300 man hours per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually,'" he says. That clearly and concisely shows your value and your worth as an employee, and can help you land that next promotion, raise or even a new job.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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