Many women have a hard time getting ahead in the business because they are reluctant to promote themselves. Certainly, here in the UK it is not something that culturally we are brought up to do. I know that you may feel conflicted when you would like to celebrate your success, and I also know that you want to avoid coming across as arrogant. Many studies about women in the workplace and business have confirmed that social norms about modesty tend to hold women back.

In one study, female students wrote an application for a merit scholarship after being told there was a box in the room emitting waves that caused discomfort. The box was imaginary, but the results were real. When they had something to blame for their anxiety, the women wrote essays that earned them more money. You can get the same results by following these tips.

Preparing to blow your own trumpet.

  1. Seek motivation. Realise the value of self-promotion. By some estimates, the average UK woman still earns about £225,000 less than the average man over the course of her lifetime. Self-promotion can help narrow that gap.
  2. Observe your male colleagues. Learn from the men you work with or live with. Whilst I am not recommending that you behave more like the men around you, there is without doubt things, we women can learn from them. Try adapting their bragging style to your own personality. Make sure that you communicate in an assertive manner and ask for what you want in a straightforward way.
  3. Build your confidence. Take on new challenges. Learn a foreign language or a new dance. Sign up for accounting or computer courses online or at your local community college. Offer to be a guest speaker at a networking event. These activities will make you more confident and might encourage you to boast. 
  4. Evaluate your strengths. Perform an inventory of your skills and accomplishments. Maybe you’re a whiz with numbers or you excel at writing or influencing others. Log it all down and then remind yourself and others of your strengths.
  5. Ask for feedback. Find out how your friends and colleagues feel about your skills and qualifications. Think about what you get praised for the most. You may discover that you’re good at managing conference logistics or negotiating contracts with vendors or excellent at bringing in new business.
  6. Document your achievements. Start a ‘brag’ book. Mark down when you get a great client testimonial or you save your company money or create an outstanding customer experience. Write them all down in a file or a journal and then when you’re feeling low open it up and read them out loud to yourself.
  7. Limit self-deprecation. Watch what you say about yourself. It can be very easy to be hard on ourselves and sometimes we don’t say it out loud and so we think it doesn’t count. It does. Your brain does not recognise the difference between what is real and what is fiction so telling yourself that you are ‘useless’ or ‘no good’ at something becomes the reality.
  8. Accept compliments graciously. When someone pays you a compliment, all you need to do is thank them.
  9. Manage your stress. Stress is an everyday occurrence and each of us needs to learn to manage to to be able to stay healthy and get the best from any situation. It’s important to work out what will help reduce your stress. It could be exercise or maybe getting out in the fresh air. You may feel awkward talking about yourself but for many people chatting with friends can be very helpful. One techniques that might help is visualisation. Visualise a calming image, like ocean waves or sheep grazing in a field and stay with the visualisation whilst focusing on your breathing. Also you could try to find ways to relax through meditation.

Strategies for Self Promotion

  1. Start small. Find someone who is willing to listen to what you have to say. Rehearse a story with them before you try it on your boss or potential clients.
  2. Network effectively. Form alliances where you can say flattering things about each other to those in power. Women are often better at promoting other businesses, their colleagues and friends rather than themselves. Networking is about building supportive respectful relationships with others so get out and meet some new people.
  3. Focus on outcomes. Make specific and quantifiable statements. Stating that you’ve won two prestigious awards for your marketing campaigns sounds more convincing than just saying you’re creative.
  4. Serve others. People are more likely to welcome your remarks if they’re helpful. If you want more clients think about you can do to serve them, what help do they need? Update your boss on how you completed a project ahead of schedule. You’ll demonstrate that you’re competent and efficient without having to say so directly. Become known for sharing your ideas as well as your accomplishments.
  5. Choose your setting. There’s a time and a place for everything. Learn to read people and know when they are giving you the signal that they are interested in what you have to offer. There’s a big difference between showcasing your skills at a job interview or performance evaluation and doing so at someone else’s retirement party. Ensure you have a receptive audience.
  6. Hold yourself accountable. Accept responsibility for both your wins and your losses. Everything you say will have more credibility when your actions speak louder than your words.
  7. Be supportive. Give others the opportunity to show off and be genuine in your compliments. Everyone likes to bask in praise sometimes. They may even return the favour and put you in the spotlight next time they have the opportunity.
  8. Pace yourself. It’s good to be comfortable talking about yourself. Just save it for an appropriate time and place. Ensure you cultivate plenty of other topics of conversation to avoid seeming self-centered.

A little grandstanding is good for your business and your career. Tooting your own horn pays off, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

What do you think?

Suzanne