As women, it can be hard to "toot our own horns" and own up to our strengths. But it's so important to know your worth and to be able to speak to it! We're reading the following four tips on self-promotion, from forbeswoman.com.
Want to make a woman feel uncomfortable? Just ask about her strengths. It's no stereotype: Studies show that women are notoriously bad at promoting themselves.
One study, from employee search firm ISR, attributes this trait to the high value women place on relationships and communities. Women don't speak about their strengths, the reasoning goes, because they don't want to alienate people who are less successful.
Whatever its cause, this hesitance to self-promote hurts women's careers. In today's competitive world the people most vocal about their accomplishments are the ones most likely to get ahead. And by downplaying their accomplishments and deflecting praise onto others, women act like their own worst enemies.
As a marketing consultant for women business owners, I see this behavior all the time. I've also heard countless excuses for why women avoid self-promotion. These excuses tend to fall into one of four categories, which I've dubbed the four myths of self-promotion:
The Bitch Myth-"Self promotion will make me look arrogant."
Not all self-promotion is shameless. Sometimes it's essential to a successful career, whether that means reminding a boss of your achievements or publicizing the 10th anniversary of your business. But many women have trouble making the distinction between shameless bragging and smart marketing.
"For many years, I thought some people--pushy people--were good at promoting themselves," says Alisa Bowman, a former magazine editor and blogger at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com. "Then there were the rest of us. I always thought I was a better person for having that belief, but when I look back on my career, I know that attitude hurt me. I didn't get raises or promotions because I failed to toot my own horn."
With a book coming out later this year, Bowman has since changed her tune. "What I've found is that promoting oneself is not bitchy at all," she says. "In fact, it's quite the opposite. I believe in my message. Not promoting it would be selfish, as it would deny people the opportunity to learn from what I have to say."
The Princess Myth-"If I'm good enough, people will hear about it."
This myth originates from fairy tales where the princess waits for her knight to arrive and sweep her off her feet. Generations of girls have heard this story. Many grow up believing it's true. If you work hard and wait patiently enough, someone will eventually notice.
Unfortunately, this only applies to fairy tales. In the corporate world most people are juggling too many responsibilities to notice what others are doing well. This goes double for people with the authority to give promotions and pay raises.
And for business owners, simply waiting for the right customers to appear is a recipe for failure. The world is too full of competition for businesses to stay solvent without good promotion.
"I had a client who came to me mystified that people weren't pounding her door down because of the great work she did," says Kae Kohl, chief marketing "nerd" of Kiwi Marketing Group. "We get more mail in a day than our grandparents received in a month. To assume that our message will somehow be heard with no action on our part is not only outmoded but dangerous. Survival depends upon taking action to get noticed."
The Friends and Family Myth-"Others should talk about my accomplishments, not me."
Some women assume that their friends, family and other customers will do their marketing for them by spreading positive word of mouth. While word of mouth is a great form of promotion, relying on word of mouth alone can hurt your chances of success.
Let's face it--no one is more passionate about your work than you. No one else knows the depth of your experience and expertise. And no one can elaborate on your unique skills as convincingly as you can. By delegating promotion to others, you're taking away your best opportunity to demonstrate your value.
"I used to think that promoting myself would seem arrogant, [and] if the people who love me promoted me, it would sound more realistic," says Stephanie Kessler, senior associate at Community First Fund."The problem with this myth is that their promotion could be inappropriate or off-base. Worse, friends can become enemies, especially in a competitive environment, in which case they may not be promoting but disparaging you. So the safest bet is to promote yourself."
The Martyr Myth-"You can't control what people think anyway."
When self-promotion makes you feel uncomfortable, it can be tempting to take a "why bother?" attitude. After all, people form their first impressions before you even say a word, so there's no sense trying to change their minds ... right? Wrong!
Artist Lindsey Stauffer struggles with this question. "I like to think that if people like the painting, they'll buy it, and if they don't, they won't, and nothing I say will make any difference," she says. "But I know that's not true because I've watched other people make the sales pitch and it works for them."
The Bottom Line
The myths you believe often mask a deeper insecurity about the value you place on what you have to offer. If you don't fully believe in yourself, you'll naturally resist stepping into the spotlight. This resistance, plus generations of conditioning to be humble and stand on the sidelines, has left many women unprepared for today's ultra-competitive business world.
That doesn't mean you have to play the role of a pushy saleswoman to get ahead. But it does require taking small steps outside your comfort zone. Get familiar with your strong points. Write them down if necessary and put them somewhere you'll see them often. (Practice talking yourself up in front of friends: They'll give you honest feedback about what works and what doesn't.)
Most importantly, tap into your passion for what you do. By denying your passion a voice, you keep the world from benefiting from what you have to offer. And that's the most shameful thing of all.
reprinted from ForbesWoman.com
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