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February 9, 2010

Tips For Effective Self-Promotion The Key To Unlocking The Door To Career Opportunities And Professional Success


By: Maria Feeley 

Have you been unfairly overlooked when an opportunity arises to work on a big case or deal, to serve in a leadership position, or to attend an important event?  Have you been overlooked for a promotion you thought you deserved?  Do you know why?   

Consider the possibility that your chances of obtaining that promotion or being given that opportunity would have increased if you had actively promoted yourself.  For example, did your boss know you wanted the opportunity or promotion and that you had relevant experience?  Did the decision makers know you wanted the leadership position and that you were qualified to handle it?  Was the person who got the opportunity, leadership position or promotion more experienced or qualified than you, or did he or she just do a better job at communicating his or her experience, qualifications and desires? 

We all like to think that we will be rewarded with opportunities and advancement if we work hard, obtain good results for clients, and consistently strive for professional excellence. But, as we all know, competency, hard work and good results do not automatically translate to professional rewards. Self-promotion is often the missing ingredient, and can be all that stands between you and that next great opportunity or promotion. 

Effective self-promotion can unlock the door to your professional success. Here are some tips to help you embrace that notion, feel more comfortable with the concept, and learn to practice the art of effective self-promotion. 

1. Modesty Is Not The Best Policy. If you are uncomfortable promoting yourself, you can gradually eliminate that discomfort by changing the way you think about self-promotion, and considering it a requirement of the profession, as opposed to unnecessary bragging. Understanding the importance of self-promotion and making it a professional priority will help you present your best professional image to those making decisions that will impact your future and professional development, such as clients, supervisors, and colleagues. For example, law firms and corporate and government legal departments often require attorneys to complete annual self-assessments prior to determining raises and promotions. If you do not learn to effectively self-promote, you will not present your best self-assessment to the decision makers. By thinking of self-promotion as a function of the profession, akin to mandatory continuing legal education credit, you will become more comfortable with the process and less modest when it comes to your career. 

2. Keep A Running Tab Of Your Achievements And Contributions. If you are not conscience of your achievements, others will not be aware of them. Keep a running tab of good results you have achieved, praise you have received from clients and co-workers, non-billable activities you have undertaken for your firm or law department, speaking engagements, publications, leadership appointments, awards, and the like. If you record your achievements and contributions as they occur, you will be less likely to forget them, and have them handy when it is time to self-promote. 

3. Be Prepared To Self-Promote When An Opportunity Presents Itself. Have a brief commercial ready for unexpected self-promotion opportunities. For example, if you end up in an elevator with the head of your legal department, be ready to introduce yourself, explain what you do, and how you contribute to the organization. Make sure you convey enthusiasm, so that he or she will understand your passion for your work. 4. Be Prepared To Self-Promote When An Opportunity Does Not Present Itself. If you achieved a great result or accomplished something important, get the word out. For example, send a quick email to a partner with whom you would like to work telling her about a recent win, and asking for opportunities to assist her with projects that might require similar expertise. Or, if you want a leadership position in an organization, ask someone active in the organization for a brief meeting to discuss how you can better serve the organization. 

5. Accept Well Deserved Praise. When someone compliments you on a job well done, do not brush off the compliment or belittle your contribution. Instead, acknowledge your efforts, explain how rewarding the results are to you, and express gratitude for the recognition. 

6. Be Proactive. Do not assume your good work will speak for itself. Be proactive and  plant the seeds for future opportunities. Develop a personal marketing plan and ask for assignments, speaking engagements, leadership positions, and other opportunities. Do not wait for someone to hand you your opportunity to shine. 



One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    February 17, 2010 7:49 pm

    Sometimes these things are easier said than done. It is tough getting in front of the right people sometimes, when others get to socialize with them just because they like sports, golf, etc. But, I guess that is the point about having to be more proactive.

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