Sometimes you have to toot your own horn.
We all know that one person at work — the one who never misses an opportunity to pump up his own work. “Did you see that I landed the Jennings account? Boom!” A braggart, a blowhard, and annoyingly successful. Meanwhile, you keep your head down, work hard, and keep the faith that your accomplishments will get noticed and you'll get the recognition you deserve.
Unfortunately, unless you're hoping to build up a stash of karma points, you're not doing yourself any favors by keeping quiet. Like it or not, promoting yourself at work is a necessary part of your career. You don't have to be a blowhard like the Jennings account guy, but you do need to be able to let your co-workers and your bosses know what you do, what you excel in, and what you accomplish in your job.
If you're not sure how to start, here are some tips to help you promote yourself at work without annoying your entire office.
1. Change how you think about self-promoting
If the very idea of self-promotion makes you cringe, you need to change your perception entirely. You probably think it means bragging and pumping yourself up above others, but it doesn't have to be like that. In fact, it shouldn't be like that.
First, accept self-promotion as a part of your career. Just like the tasks you do on a daily basis, promoting yourself is a necessity. Think of yourself as a great product — you may be amazing, but if you don't advertise to the right crowd, no one will know. If you think it's your boss' job to take note of who is kicking butt and performing at a high level, you're kidding yourself. Your boss has a lot on his or her plate and a lot of employees to handle, and thus simply can't see everything that goes on. In that light, you're not bragging, you're simply keeping your boss in the loop. Simple, right?
2. Understand your best skills and accomplishments
This may seem like one of those things that go without saying, but it really needs to be said. Before you can actively promote yourself within your work environment, you need to take note of what it is that you do best. Do you excel at training new employees? Have you developed new methods or procedures? Are you a deadline beater extraordinaire? Make a list of your strengths and then think about the successful projects that you've worked on. How did your skills help create that success?
3. Focus on the projects
Now that you've done your personal inventory, it's time to let your office know just how much you contribute. To make this easier, don't focus on yourself, but on the successful projects that you've been a part of recently. By providing updates at team meetings and commenting on the success of your projects, you can demonstrate your successes without hammering the team with “I did this” and “I accomplished that.” Instead of being boastful, you'll come across as a team player who is only concerned about the success of the company, but you'll also make your part in things clearly known.
4. Share kudos with your team
Very few successes come from working alone. You probably had help, right? Take time to recognize those who helped make your accomplishments happen. Even if you have to dip into your own pocket to reward them with free lunch or a simple card, the benefits will outweigh the cost tremendously. Here are a few suggestions:
Give your helpers recognition during an office meeting or even a private meeting with your boss. You'll come off as gracious, endear yourself to your team, and casually promote your success on that project.
Have a party (even if it's just a lunch date) to celebrate successes. Your team will love you for it and the rest of the office will notice.
Not the team lead? No worries. Talk to the team lead to see how the project came out and give some kudos to those who helped you do your part. The team lead will notice your interest and your ability to notice the efforts of others.
5. Make yourself an industry expert
If you are serious about building your career, you're probably already created a LinkedIn profile and some other social media sites. Take the time to do more than just create a profile. Post blogs about your profession and share your insights. Welcome connections from others in your field. If you consistently pop up on other people's screens as a resource of information in your field, you'll quickly brand yourself as an industry expert. How cool is that?
Are there people who you consistently see on your Linkedin or Twitter feed who are providing valuable tips and information? Don't just read their posts, comment on them and start dialogues. Then, create your own posts and add your name to the field. It's an easy task and, frankly, it's kind of fun to get out there and discuss the tips and tricks that you have learned.
Think your boss won't notice? Think again.
6. Reach out to other departments
If you find yourself with a little downtime, even if it's in the break room, talk with the people in your company who work in other departments. Try to get a feel for what they do well and where they may need a helping hand. If you are able to provide that help, you'll quickly become a resource for that department and build a name for yourself outside of your own team.
The bonus to this strategy is that you'll also learn new skills while working with other departments, adding even more to your resume.
7. Be ready for chit chat
What does office chit chat have to do with self-promotion? Everything! If you wind up at the coffee machine with your boss who says, “What's new?” you may be inclined to blurt out the typical “Nothing much.”
Casual office conversations comprise a large percentage of the communication you have at work every day. Don't miss this opportunity to discuss a project that you are working on and how it will impact the company. Again, make sure to focus on the project and the team, not yourself. Show your enthusiasm for the project and its potential. These little conversations serve to build a positive reputation for you throughout the office.
Learning to promote yourself at work comes much more naturally to some people than others, and that's okay. The fact is that you need to think of it as another part of your job if you want to further your career. Does that mean you need to become the office braggart? Not at all. Just continue to find little ways to let your peers and your bosses know what you've been up to and how successful you've been. It's not bragging, it's simply keeping them in the loop.
When you learn to change the way you think about self-promoting, you'll learn that it's not as hard as you think. If all else fails, look at someone you admire in your office and pay attention to how they do it. Just like the skills you learned in school that trained you to be good at your job, the skill of self-promotion is essential for being successful in your career.
Your resume is another opportunity for self-promotion. Make sure you're doing it right with a free resume critique.