Are you comfortable sharing your accomplishments with the decision makers at work? If you ask around you will rarely find a woman who enjoys promoting herself. Making your achievements known at work,however, is a key driver of compensation growth and promotion.
In fact, some studies, including the Catalyst study “The Myth of the Ideal Worker” have identified self promotion as the only significant driver of compensation growth for high performing women. You may find this outrageous. Many women think that their work should speak for itself. The truth is that it just doesn’t work that way. It is your responsibility to manage your own career and that includes making sure that your manager and other powerful people in your organization know what you have accomplished.
And if you don’t? That same Catalyst study I referenced before identified that 8 years post MBA, there was an average of a $31,258 difference between men and women’s compensation uniquely attributable to the womens’ lack of self-promotion activity.
Let’s for a minute just assume that 8 years out of MBA a person is 32 years old and that they are going to retire at 65. And so let’s assume that the men put that $31,258 in a retirement account every year for 33 years until they are 65 and it grows at 6%. How much more money do they have than you do at retirement? $3,256,536.86! That’s right. So what do you think about self-promotion now? Ready to try? It’s not as hard as you think. Here are my top three tips for killer self promotion “stories” that are authentic and effective:
- Stick to the facts. Start with data- whether that data is facts from a presentation you gave or aggregate data across several client meetings you attended or results from several product tests you conducted- start with facts. This conveys a certain objectivity- it’s not me that is suggesting that I am awesome- it’s the data.
- Wrap the facts in enthusiasm and passion for your work, your company and in some cases for the particular pet cause of the executive that you want to sponsor you. Position your success as good for the customer and good for the company (which by the way it is!) and you will be telling stories your executives want to hear.
- Here’s an example that combines the first two tips: “Hey Matt- I am so glad I ran into you! Remember that service we were considering rolling out to our clients in the southern region? I have some good relationships with clients there as you know so my team and I called 30 of the top 100 to get a feel for their response and it turns out not only are they interested but they would pay significantly more than we anticipated for the service! I am really excited to get going on this so I am getting the product team together tomorrow to see what it will take to roll it out next quarter.”
In the above you show yourself to be proactive, on top of the Executive’s priorities, leading the team and enthusiastic about moving the company’s agenda forward and you were able to slide in that you have some pretty good relationships with clients. Did you brag? I don’t think so but you certainly promoted yourself!
- And the third tip- Leverage any third party feedback as a free opportunity to promote yourself without having to say anything yourself.
So let’s extend the example above to combine all three. Let’s say you have a great relationship with a client who has just given you feedback on that new service. You ask him to send you an email summarizing the feedback he just gave you. You forward the email to the Executive in question, (it is most important to start with your direct manager if you are just starting to self-promote) and in the preface you include what I have as the example that combines 1 and 2 above. Here you not only accomplish all we discussed in the first example but you also demonstrate further the great relationship you have with the client. And then you let your good work keep working for you- the CEO forwards the email to the head of product. The head of product asks you to set him up with some client meetings… and so on. The most important thing about self promotion is that you find a way to do it. It’s not bragging, it’s career management in it’s most fundamental form and it could mean a huge difference when it comes to your bank account.