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  Speak Up: Get Verbal, Get out There, Exude Power and Purpose





     A major turning point in most women's careers comes when they recognize that self promotion is part of the game of business. To most women, who are socialized in humility since very early childhood, boasting is anathema. But, as one woman leader put it: “Modesty doesn’t create opportunity.” If you want recognition, you must start promoting yourself. You will soon feel comfortable doing it, and equally important, you will begin to realize you deserve it. Communicate your vision, detail the benefits, and exude a can-do attitude to engage and motivate your audience.  Determine to become a master of the visibility game:
  • Document your successes and pass them along to see that they get noticed and recognized. Two women professionals who partner on career advancement advise “Keep a log or a notebook filled with all your work successes. Whenever you get a rave letter, close an important deal, have stellar results in your quarterly report, [you should] pass along the quote or statement to your company newsletter, e-mail updates to associates [and] professional publications, and weave the positives into regular press releases for your company.”
  • Develop what deal makers call your "elevator pitch," something you can say that summarizes your value and achievements in the 30-60 seconds it takes for an elevator to move between floors. Wendy Kinney, the founder of PowerCore (a networking organization that also teaches professionals how to network more effectively) recognized that the difference between business success and business failure often has more to do with effective self-promotion skills than with technical competence.  So she developed a profitable answer to the question “What do you do?”  She opened the Atlanta office of PowerCore in January of 1995; there are now 34 PowerCore Teams, with more than 600 members.
  • To move up, address big problems and formulate bold solutions. Women are not at work to be handmaidens or helpers who are easily "disappeared" by devaluing their activities, as researcher and author Joyce K. Fletcher points out.  An executive is at work to become a change agent, to positively impact the success of her company by setting strategic goals aligned with that company's mission. Learn how to speak in public. The author's first try at public speaking was a disaster: at the time, I didn’t understand what to focus on and how technical to get, so my presentation was way more technical than the audience wanted.  One man said about me, “Ask her the time, and she’ll tell you how to build a clock.” I had to learn a style that worked for me—so I did, and I’ve since made successful presentations at high-level conferences all over the world.
  • Learn to weave your successes into a pithy story, which becomes as much a part of your repertoire as a handshake. Eunice Azzani, partner & vice-president of Korn/Ferry International, the executive search firm,says : "Don't take an interviewing course; take a storytelling course. Sit down and write your story. Write about the times when you've felt great about yourself, the times when you've made a difference." That’s the story you need to weave into all your public speaking—and even your casual conversations with colleagues.
  • Focus on becoming a leader, developing a vision, and inspiring and motivating people to follow it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to know everything: there are many technical experts who can tell you how to do things, but few who have strong leadership skills.Rayona Sharpnack teaches leadership to businesspeople and has a track record of turning out successful change agents. Some of her participants describe it as a life-changing experience. She has shared her vision at Apple Computer, Boeing, Compaq, Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Levi Strauss & Co., and Wells Fargo. Sharpnack insists you shouldn’t concentrate on facts and mechanics – you can get those by the truckload from Amazon.com.  Instead, concentrate  on transforming your mental framework.

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