In cultures like the US, assertive self-confidence runs in the tap water. At a tender age, little ones are joyfully showing-and-telling. By the time they finish college, most can account for themselves with a comfort and assuredness that can be annoyingly slick.

With a culture like Ireland’s as your backdrop, it was much more likely that humorous self-depreciation and modesty would underlie efforts at self-promotion and the American style seen as self-aggrandizing or plain bragging.

Not anymore.

Confident, professional women are on the rise and leaving diffidence behind with last year’s handbag. Downplaying your successes or just staying quiet about them isn’t allowing others to appreciate how talented, capable and valuable you are. What’s worse, credit for your achievements could go to someone else.

Authentic self-promotion?

What can often dampen the urge for profile-raising is the feeling that it’s salesmanship and not authentic. However, when your brand is a thoughtful, personally - crafted and genuine a self-assessment, then pointing out where you excel and being your sincere self in a confident way should come naturally. You’re aware of how you contribute and you’re allowing others to benefit by portraying this.

A helpful way to feel authentic about raising your profile is to think of all those who’ve helped you on the way to who you are now. Bosses, mentors, coaches, parents, teachers, for example.

Being proud of your development is a sincere way to honoring their time, effort and belief in you and helps to make self-promotion feel legitimate.

“I don't believe we have a professional self, Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It is all professional, and it is all personal.” - Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

Five ways to stand out

  • Take opportunities to tell your story anywhere
    Promote your attributes among those in your wider industry, to associates, competitors, recruiters and even personal contacts. People ask questions all the time; on airplanes, at school games, at events, at the gym. Be prepared with interesting, engaging stories that show you own your achievements, emphasizing how they benefitted others.

  • Your good work doesn’t always speak for itself
    Self-promotion is not just for reviews. Look for ways to let people in your organization be aware of projects you’ve completed, milestones you’ve reached or positive changes you’ve brought about. Be especially mindful to demonstrate these to people in influential positions.

  • Don’t depend on others to speak for you
    This is especially true when it comes to passing your reputation up to the line. Everyone wants to look good and if you’re not claiming your results, others could.

  • Build a grid that attracts opportunities
    Raising your profile doesn’t need to be obvious and self-serving. It’s a way of putting across your strengths by showing how they have played out. Practicing this helps you to grow further into who you are, shows future potential and opens connections to new opportunities.

  • Remember to be real
    When putting the above points into action, authenticity is central. Be as good a listener, as a talker. Be considerate, helpful and polite. 

In the next part of this three-part series, we’ll move on to how to influence those in the levels ahead of you. Learn how to let people of influence know how much value you can add.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the subject, please get in touch.

Deirdre O’Shaughnessy

Deirdre is a Partner at Odgers Berndtson Ireland. She specialises in senior executive appointments from Head of Function to Board level across a broad spectrum of industries and functions. Deirdre...

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