Have you ever needed to promote your work with customers or internal stakeholders within an organization? If you’re like most professionals, the prospect of self-promotion is deeply uncomfortable. You want to focus on your area of expertise, not on selling yourself. How can we get our ideas seen and heard without feeling like a self-promoting jerk? Here are three tips to promote your work more effectively.
Your Ideas Are a Gift to the World
Today’s work world requires us to be good at both our respective professions and the art of communication. Even leading experts in highly technical fields must translate complex concepts into a story that others can understand. After all, if we don’t communicate, how will anybody know who we are and why we exist? We can’t create value if the rest of the world has never heard of our brilliant ideas.
One of the best ways to overcome the self-promotion barrier is to shift your mindset completely. Instead of framing your communication as promoting yourself, think of it instead as sharing your expertise. When we worry too much about promoting ourselves, rather than our ideas, we can get self-conscious. Whereas, when we focus on the value we bring, it feels more like a service—and less like a selfish act. Remember: Your expertise is truly a gift to others.
Share Your Knowledge
When you need to get your ideas seen and heard, consider how you can give away some of your knowledge. Articles, ‘How To’ videos, webinars and other communication activities are a great way to showcase this expertise. Many businesses use newsletters as a promotional vehicle.
When you plan what goes into your newsletter, or any other communication product, ask yourself what content will change the day of the person on the receiving end. What’s going to enhance the experience for my customers, employees, or team members?
Will it help if I share the values of the company? Or the features of a new product coming down the line? Better yet, can I give them a taste of what my company or product can do for them? Frankly, most people don’t really care about what you stand for, so much as what you can do for them.
Watch Those Pronouns!
When you talk about a product or service, think carefully about the language you use. For example, when we share information in the first person with phrases such as “My product can do X, Y or Z” or “I achieved these results”, the story is all about us. Try to reframe these wins using “you” or “we”, so that the person you’re talking to feels a part of the story.
Recruit Ambassadors To Promote Your Idea
If you’re still feeling uncomfortable about sharing your knowledge, you can ask third parties to do it for you. Invite a happy customer to give a testimonial about your product or service. Within an organization, you can get a colleague to mention your project to an important internal stakeholder. This is a great way to get your ideas seen and heard without telling the story yourself.
Women struggle in particular with self-promotion because we face a cultural bias, which doesn’t allow us to celebrate wins. One way around this is to create a circle of support with colleagues and friends. When one of them does something great, you can all share the idea. This can be as simple as a comment on a LinkedIn post, or public recognition during a meeting, or endorsement via word of mouth.
Promoting someone else reinforces their credibility. And what goes around comes around. The more we share and promote our friends, the more they share and promote back. It’s a great way to get your story out if you’re really uncomfortable talking about yourself, as well as generating more trust through third-party credibility. In fact, even if you are comfortable sharing your own story, you can still recruit others to promote your ideas.
When we reframe self-promotion into a generous act of sharing our knowledge with the world, it can help to take away a bit of the discomfort. The more you practice talking about your ideas, the easier it will get. Over time you’ll feel less like a self-promoting jerk and more like a generous contributor of knowledge.