As the fourth quarter comes to a close all of us have a measure of excitement, angst and transition in our work lives. Year-end sales goals, projects, performance reviews, promotions and career transitions dominate our thinking. The theme I hear across all of these scenarios is, “How do I tell my story?” “How do I tell my story so that my business development efforts succeed?” “How do I tell my story so that my performance is recognized and valued in the organization?” “How do I tell my story so that I can transition to a new role in my company or with a new organization?”
Effective storytelling is a theme that unites the people who advance in their chosen careers. Career advancement isn’t based solely on luck or education. Those whose careers are on an upward trajectory know how to tell their stories effectively. They know how to self-promote.
Self-promotion is an often talked about but mostly misunderstood differentiator in what makes careers successful. People tend to go to one extreme or the other. On one end you have the braggart or arrogant person whose bravado turns off anyone who might want to help, build or change that person’s career. On the other end is the timid or unaware person who has so much difficulty telling his story that most would not even think he was trying to advance his career. I have talked to many leaders who believe self-promotion to be a key ingredient to career success. How they developed it, however, was a mystery until now.
My colleague, Debby Stone, tackles the subject in her new book, The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career. Stone’s work provides a framework and actionable suggestions that enable professionals at any level to develop an engaging, authentic self-promotion story — a story that interests everyone they encounter including peers, bosses, prospects and clients. Importantly, she defines the fundamentals of self-promotion: What it is – Telling your story, confidence, positivity, authenticity, creating curiosity; and What it is not – Selling yourself, putting on a persona, arrogance, bragging, embellishing the truth.
She starts with looking at the mindsets (mostly negative) we have regarding self-promotion. She then challenges us and gives us tools to shift these mindsets and get past the negative images (the over-promoter) and roadblocks (it’s uncomfortable) that self-promotion holds for so many professionals. The takeaway for everyone is a confidence that moves us beyond the flawed beliefs that everything will work out fairly, that our good work will speak for itself and that self-promotion is socially unacceptable.
The bottom line is we have to tell our stories effectively to achieve the success we desire. Most likely we are not nearly as effective as we think we are. To master the art of self-promotion we must shift our mindsets and adopt the “mindsets of the masters” as Stone puts it. I encourage you to explore the core beliefs of these masters so you can be prepared to position your efforts and achieve results – not only in the fourth quarter but in the years to come!