Self-Promotion Power Plays

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Diane Contrisciano is a poster child for self-promotion. She began her career as a secretary in the marketing department at Mellon Financial Corp. in Philadelphia.

Soon, she was one of two employees tapped to build the office’s marketing and planning department from the ground up. “We learned by the seat of our pants,” Contrisciano recalls.

Since then, she has climbed the ranks to assistant vice president. She credits her success to the public relations campaign—starring herself—she waged over the years.

“Whenever I received verbal accolades from clients within the bank, I asked them to put their comments in writing and send them to my manager,” she says. “And if my supervisor congratulated me on a job well done, I’d copy my boss’s manager at Mellon’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. If you’re going to get promoted, people have to know who you are and what you’re doing.”

There are plenty of ways to take charge of your success and make great things happen in your career. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a megaphone and start crowing! Here’s how:

Take credit for your accomplishments. Men will do this in a heartbeat—and for any success even remotely related to their work. On the flip side, women are often reluctant to take credit for their achievements and, instead, frequently attribute their success to others or to sheer luck. Why? Usually out of fear that self-pride will interfere with the development of on-the-job relationships. However, by denying yourself credit for a job well done, you not only discount your strengths, you also cheat yourself out of the opportunity to get the attention and recognition you deserve.

Create your personal elevator speech. High-level executives say they don’t often hear about women’s accomplishments. Ellen Snee, president of Fine Line Consulting, a Massachusetts-based firm dedicated to the advancement of female corporate leaders, has a hunch why this is. “Most of the women we work with are extremely effective leaders, but they’re often not good at drawing attention to their achievements,” Snee says. Her solution? “Women should not assume their peers and managers know about their accomplishments. They must make a conscious effort to name and claim the work they do.”

Become a storyteller. Squeamish about trumpeting your talents? Another softer but still powerful way to promote your strengths is to use anecdotal stories that highlight your accomplishments, says Judith Rutkin of iCoach America. “Have a thirty-second brand statement ready that establishes who you are. By practicing this packaged self-promotion ahead of time, you will be prepared the next time you meet someone you want to impress.”


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