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. This post includes my own experience as well as those of present and past masters of the visibility game, to help readers to:
- 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 72 PowerCore Teams, with more than7,318 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.It will be the best advertisement you can ever make for yourself.
- 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.
- Become an evangelist for what you do. Guy Kawasaki has made a career of being a tech evangelist. Since he has been in the forefront of new and cutting edge technologies which brought about big change, he has not only had to inspire people to use new technology but, at the same time, in a different view than Rayona Sharnack, teach people how to use it and master it, in order to improve their lives. Kawasaki was an evangelist for Apple for four years. He then wrote the The Art of the Start, which I highly recommend to anyone thinking of starting a business. Recently, in addition to starting Alltop, an online magazine rack , Kawasaki, has written, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions on how to market yourself and What the Plus! Google+ for the rest of us, in which he is evangelizing Google+ and also showing all of us how to market ourselves on the Net, and APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, in which Kawasaki is showing us how to break free from traditional publishing and use artisanal publishing, another now viable and accessible platform for broadcasting our value. Delivering these personable, nuts and bolts demonstrations of how to leverage our own value, continuously increases Kawasaki’s base, authority, prestige, and adds exponentially to his followers who number in the millions.
By Gretchen Glasscock