Self-Promotion: A Personal Branding Mandatory
NOT communicating your value will leave you with regret.
Personal Brand Defined
Since you are a person, you have a personal brand.
You can’t escape it. Your personal brand follows you from the day you are born, until you exit earth. You create your brand with each day you live, every word you speak, every action you take, and every promise you deliver on, or not. In today’s era of social media and content creators, we call it a personal brand. Yet, it is also quite simply your reputation.
The Dilemma With Personal Branding
In most circles, it is not acceptable to talk ad nauseam about ourselves or our accomplishments. It is courteous and polite to listen to others and appear to be interested and care too. I’m aligned with such actions.
Yet, all of the politeness inhibits us from sharing our greatness with the world. Because we don’t practice verbalizing such often, many of us are at a loss for words when asked. We have been socialized to be humble. Many of us are bashful when we are asked to describe what we do, what we’re working on, have recently accomplished or desire to do or become.
Why You Should Self-Promote
If you don’t speak up for yourself and speak your truth you dishonor your personal thoughts, desires, space, and place in the world. No one else will promote you better than you. Perhaps a parent, sibling, partner, friend or mentor will advocate for you (which I’m grateful to have had many times over), but what happens if and when they do not, or cannot. I know for me personally, it is time that I improve my self-promotion skills. We all must learn how to speak up for ourselves, at work, and personal lives too. Each of us possesses inherent greatness. When we don’t share who we really are, we rob the world of the authentic contributions we offer AND deny ourselves from living the world out loud.
So, instead of continuing to live a humble life, in which we don’t speak our voices, our truths AND you don’t honor our being, I write this article intended for each of us to begin living out loud more.
F*ck Being Humble Inspiration
At Advertising Week 2023 in NYC, I attended a standing-room only session by International Speaker & Author Stephanie Sword-Williams entitled “F*ck Being Humble.”
About 7 minutes into her talk, she invited the attendees to review a list of words (below), and stand if we’d ever used any of them to describe ourselves. Everyone stood.
We were then asked to think about what makes you you, and to think of 5 words not listed to describe ourselves.” She encouraged us to find our voice, and to use it. Stating furthermore that our work will NOT always speak for itself. So we have to find the words that we want to be used in adjacency to ourselves.
Stephanie acknowledged that self-promotion does not come easily to most. In fact, since many of us have been acculturated to NOT speak highly of ourselves, it is common for us to demerit an accolade with a preface such as “minor achievement brag,” “I don’t normally do this,” “if you have nothing else to do, will you read/watch X that I did,” and number 1 “excuse the shameless plug.” She espoused (and I fully support) that we stop demeriting in such ways, and find the courage, using grace to share what we are proud of accomplishing.
To help those of us who struggle with self-promotion, she offered this advice:
The 3 G’s of Self-Promotion
Be genuine, gracious and a giver when self-promoting.
To be genuine, be open, honest and relatable. Share your smile, be vulnerable, and be as open as you can. Use open body language too, make eye contact. Be real vs pretentious, and articulate why you are so proud. Perhaps even share some of the hurdles you experienced so that people understand why you need to share with the world.
To be gracious, acknowledge others role in achieving your accomplishment. Promote them and their value. Be deferential and share how their contributions were invaluable to your success. Think of all of the award acceptance speeches you have ever seen. More often than not, the recipient thanks others. Be considerate of others and aware of how often you are promoting your prowess.
To be a giver, Stephanie invited us to inspire others, to offer advice and to offer actions to help them achieve what they desire. Communicate how you can help them and that you want an entire legion of folks to evolve and elevate with you.
You Are Not Your Title
Yay! You got a promotion. Congratulations to you. (Really!) In her Advertising Week talk, Stephanie reminded us that a professional title only communicates and does so much. We must sell the benefits of what we do, and keep track of our business impact. Getting so engrossed in our titles, and losing sight of how we impact the business is a slippery slope to a pink slip. People may hate on you for being so boastful abt your title…rolling around in the fact that you’re a VP, or EVP, yet you didn’t impact the bottom line and you didn’t care about the people who worked for you. Watch it buddy.
So, I end with a question and a recommendation.
Question: What are your 5 words to describe yourself that don’t include any of the ones she offered, and doesn’t include your title either.
Recco: Think about a recent accomplishment of yours, and share it with a minimum of 4 people using the 3 G’s. Once you get in the habit, it will become easier.
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken, Oscar Wilde.
Olivia F. Scott is Assistant Professor of Advertising at Loyola University, Adjunct Marketing Professor at NYU, and Founder of Omerge Alliances Marketing Consultancy. Learn more at oliviafscott.com.