In our latest alumni careers blog, Konstantina Dee, Alumni Careers Manager, looks at how you can develop a strategy to promote your professional self.
A definition of self-promotion that I find insightful states: "Self-promotion is the process of networking and presenting yourself to the public in order to achieve a professional goal. Essentially, promoting yourself means presenting yourself to others as an accomplished, capable and skilled professional in your field of expertise. This a learned skill that can promote your growing career in the future…” (Jamie Bird on Indeed.com)
While I concur with the concept and definition provided above, to me the term 'self-promotion' carries certain negative associations. Aligning the notion of 'self-promotion' with my personal and professional values, I prefer the term 'promoting your professional self.'
On one end of the spectrum, there are people who talk almost exclusively about themselves and sooner or later, this becomes tiresome. No one is interested in their 'self-promotion'. On the opposite end are people who say nothing because they don’t want to bring the attention to themselves and there are a number of reasons why this might be. However, more often we are somewhere in-between and it's beneficial to reflect on how you can move up or down the scale, but still present within your values and authentic self. The focus of promoting your professional self is on achieving a balance, on finding your unique spot somewhere on that scale and on using your knowledge, skills and expertise to promote your achievements and grow your career.
How to develop a strategy to promote your professional self
Define the professional you want to be known as
Clarify your area of expertise and identify where you add value. Think about your personal brand. Advice on how to create your personal brand is available from the Career Management Module on my.wbs.
Identify your strengths
We are all good at creating lists and can promptly put down a number of strengths we have using a single word for each. But how many of us do actually continue with “I am good at ABC, so that I can XYZ”? How does being good at something help you to excel in your role and within your organisation? You can revisit strength, skills and achievements for further support in doing this.
Develop a networking strategy
Recognise what group(s) and at what level you need to promote your professional self to. Who can support you in doing this? How can others become your 'promoters' within the network? Join and participate in events and activities of relevant professional bodies and groups. Connect with industry leaders and influencers. Remember the Warwick Professional and Global Alumni Networks are there to assist you in expanding your network but also to give you a platform for promoting your professional self.
How to strike the balance in promoting your professional self
Be authentic and humble
Find the right balance between talking about your achievements but also about the difficulties you’ve had. People who demonstrate they have experienced setbacks are often perceived as being more credible and managers who show some weaknesses are seen as more authentic (Authentic Leadership Theory, B. George, 2003).
Create stories of your achievements
We are programmed to relate to narratives that have a beginning, a middle (with the conflict) and an end (resolution). A compelling story can be used with your friends and colleagues, and in your annual review meetings where you would like to show your manager what you have actually accomplished. Remember not to exaggerate. But equally, although you might feel that you have 'just done my job', if you have done your job better than expected and you've delivered a project within very tight deadlines, or with limited staff, you should share this with your line manager. Sharing your accomplishments not only enhances your wellbeing and motivation but also instils a sense of pride as you discuss the effort and dedication you've invested, the self-motivation driving your actions, and the tangible results you've achieved.
Be a good communicator
Acknowledge that effective promotion of your professional self is an integral aspect of being a skilled communicator. It demonstrates your ability to talk with credibility about your achievements and to tailor your messages for different audiences and channels.
Don’t assume people know about your achievements
You can ask yourself: “How many people in my organisation (friendship group) know that I have completed a degree from a top UK business school?” People are busy with their own lives and can't always keep up with your news, so you may need to find innovative ways of communicating this.
Choose the most effective channel
- Conferences and events – Is there an event you can speak at to demonstrate your expertise to your target audience?
- Publications – Are there any industry publications looking for contributions? Are there any newsletters or blogs that you can write for? You always contact us to contribute to our next careers blog.
- Social media – For some it might seem like the easiest way to engage with promotion and many people are skilled at using social media to celebrate their achievements. LinkedIn is a widely used platform and you can download our LinkedIn guide to help you revamp your profile and start using it for promoting your professional self. If you decide to try Threads app (the just launched Twitter rival), please let me know how you are getting on. I will keep an eye on this in the next few months or until Zuckerberg tires me from talking about it!
WBS provides continued career and professional development support to all alumni. Please contact email@example.com for further details.