The term "self promotion" often
carries a negative connotation-and with good reason. No one enjoys associating
with someone whose solution to every problem starts-and ends-with the letter
"I". At the same time, unless others know what you do-and can do-chances are
they will never realize they need your services. Instead of approaching this
topic as "Me: 101," however, let’s take a different approach and focus on how
to communicate your value to those with whom you come in contact.
Particularly in these tough economic times, making yourself memorable to
employers, potential employers, clients, and business and networking associates
is more vital than ever. You might know that you are ideally qualified for
certain positions and opportunities, but with countless other qualified
professionals jockeying for these same positions, it’s not what you know that
counts; it’s what others know about you.
How can you advertise ‘you’ to the world without earning Sir Lancelot’s "C’est
moi" reputation? Simply put: communicate a comprehensive value "package" of
which you are one component-albeit a catalytic component. Below, I’ve outlined
the three communication components constituting this approach, and the good
news is that it works whether you are searching for a job, hoping to move ahead
in your current position, soliciting new business clients or working to expand
your network of business and professional relationships.
So, let’s dive in and examine how to turn self-promotion into
value-communication while advancing your career.
1) Communicate Your Capabilities
This is more than providing a laundry list of education, skills training and
professional experience. Anyone can type up a resume-and have it subsequently
trashed because it looks exactly the same as 1,000 other resumes. A better way
to communicate your capabilities is to do so in terms of achievements and
For example, if your vocation is IT sales and you closed a multi-million dollar
deal with a major corporation, you might say you had the opportunity to work
with a leading corporation to provide needed IT capabilities while at the same
time helping your company set a new sales record (if, indeed, this was the
case). And if you made the sale as part of a team, be sure to give credit where
credit is due: "I had the honor to work with a highly talented sales team to
seal the biggest sales agreement in company history."
Doesn’t that sound better than "I closed this great deal and set a new sales
record"? Indeed, it does. Facts melded with humility form a powerful
2) Communicate Your Vision–In Terms of Others
Perhaps your goal is to be the top-producing IT sales representative in the
region. While saying as much might impress some people, it probably will do
little to separate you from the hundreds of other ambitious sales reps with the
same goal who, incidentally, may be in direct competition with you.
A far better way to communicate your vision and make your qualifications more
appealing in the process is to convey your goals in terms of others.
For example, if you know the way to achieve your goal is to sign on a certain
number of major companies and/or corporations as new clients, you might say
your vision is to help 20 (or however many) leading corporations maximize their
IT capabilities by implementing the systems, software, and equipment that you
can offer. Already, you’ve shifted the direct focus away from you while still
maintaining your role-i.e. your value-in producing the desired results.
Are you starting to see the pattern here?
3) Communicate Your Value to Your Audience
This step builds on the previous two by focusing your communication specifically
on your target audience. In other words, pretend you are now interviewing
directly with the hiring manager of an IT sales corporation, or you are having
lunch with that prospective client whose business would skyrocket your sales
figures. You could tell the prospective employer you’ve sold millions of
dollars in IT services and can do it again, and you could tell the client
you’ve installed and configured IT networks for companies far more complex than
his (not recommended). But let’s face it, the real question the employer or
client is asking isn’t "What can you do?" It’s "What can you do for me?"
And a better way to communicate your value is to find out first what your
audience’s goal is and then share how you can help him or her reach that goal.
For example, if you are speaking with the head of an IT sales company, use your
past sales success to demonstrate how you can help him or her grow the
company’s market share and expand its sales territory. Or, if you are chatting
with a potential client, illustrate how you can help increase that client’s
business productivity and profitability.
It’s been said the key to success is finding a need and filling it. In the same
way, the key to communicating your value to others is identifying their goals
and demonstrating how you can help them achieve them.
Self-promotion does not have to be about self-aggrandizement, and it is
possible to advance your career while maintaining humility. In fact, not only
is it possible but it is also beneficial.
As we said at the outset, no one likes to be around people who view themselves
as the best thing since sliced bread. But people do want to associate with
individuals who are confident, who want to help others achieve their goals, and
who possess the necessary skills and qualifications to do so.
So, don’t be afraid to let others know what you can do. But choose to transform
self-promotion into value-communication by communicating your capabilities,
communicating your vision, and communicating your value to your audience.
Richard Zeoli, author of the 7 Principles of Public Speaking, is the founder
and president of RZC Impact, a pioneering communications firm specializing in
executive-level communication coaching and strategic messaging. He has offered
communications, political, and current events commentary as a frequent guest on
national television and radio. Zeoli is also a Visiting Associate at the
Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers
University in New Jersey.