The world lost a treasured talent earlier this week with the passing of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Johnson’s story was featured in the movie, “Hidden Figures.”
I remember watching that film and thinking, “Why didn’t I know about Katherine Johnson and her female African American colleagues, who were an intricate part of the U.S. space program?”
These talented people were hidden in plain sight.
Are you hidden as well?
Did the promotion you were gunning for go to someone else?
Were they more qualified than you or did they just do a better job of getting the word out about their accomplishments? My guess is the latter.
Several years ago, I was facilitating a session on Executive Presence for Women at a large well-known tech company. I remember how uncomfortable many of these women were when I mentioned self-promotion. A few were downright belligerent when I brought up the topic.
That was until one of their managers said the following:
“Do you know how often your male counterparts come to me each week asking me for a promotion? Yet, none of you ever do this? Who do you think will be top of mind when a promotion becomes available?”
The topic of tooting your own horn in a sea of cubicles to be heard is so important, that I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to this topic in the Amazon bestseller, Suddenly in Charge.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the book:
Let’s talk about ways you can toot your horn so your work is noticed now that you a better sense of why it’s in your best interest to master the art of strategic bragging and you’ve taken the time to determine your unique value proposition.
1. Story telling – Everyone loves a story, particularly a good story. Think about how you can incorporate what you’d like to brag about in a story. For example, when I completed my MBA, I quit my job and traveled around the world by myself for an entire year. I had some amazing experiences along the way. There, I just used strategic bragging to tell you about three things in my life without boasting. You now know I have an MBA, that I’m a world traveler, who has experienced many cultures first-hand, and that I’m a risk-taker. Much more interesting than if I had simply told you those three items.
I told this story when I was applying for a position as an HR Director in an organization with a very diverse workforce. The hiring manager, who eventually became my boss, was impressed that I was able to easily relate to people from different nationalities, as it was likely that I had spent time in their country at some point in my travels. He also perceived me as a risk-taker and a real go-getter, which were traits highly valued in the organization that I eventually went to work for.
2. Deliver with confidence – It’s all about the delivery. Have you ever noticed how some people look down while they are talking about themselves or their voice suddenly becomes hard to hear? Conviction and confidence are vital when you are promoting yourself. After all, if you don’t believe what you are saying what makes you think others will believe?
This may take some practice. Fortunately the price of video cameras has come down dramatically. Buy yourself a Flip Video camera and have someone tape you as you deliver your story. Then play it back. How well did you project your voice? Did you come across as believable? Did you maintain eye contact when you got to the most boastful part of your story? Keep practicing until your delivery matches the excellence of your story.
3. Create a bucket of boastful moments – It’s hard to remember all those great things you’ve accomplished, particularly as you get older and add more items to the list. That’s why I recommend keeping a bucket list on your computer. This way you can easily retrieve stories when you need them.
For example, suppose you are going to be driving to a conference with your boss and the VP of your division. What would you like the VP to know about you that she may not be aware of? Is there something you can naturally throw into the conversation that would put you in a good light, on route to the meeting? For example, suppose the conference you are attending is on the use of social media. Do you have examples of how you have successfully used social media to build community? Perhaps you have done this with your son’s scout group. Or maybe you have been a expert blogger for a well known website like Fast Company. This certainly would be of interest, given the topic of the conference. And who knows, after the conference the VP may invite you to participate on the highly visible taskforce she is assembling to leverage social media and build profitability.
Are you your organization’s best kept secret? Would you rather be known for all the great things you do today or when you’re gone?
I help leaders go from invisible to highly visible in record time. Reach out to me at Roberta@matusonconsulting.com if you’re looking to lock in your next promotion.