The Fine Art of Self-Promotion

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

When I talk to entrepreneurs or executives about self-promotion, I’m usually met with, “I don’t want to come across as boasting or bragging.” My response is, that’s great because that’s not self-promotion.

First and foremost, self-promotion is about confidence, competence and courage. As Marianne Williamson noted in her now famous speech, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking… As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Self-promotion is an aspect of professional presence and includes the empowering act of sharing your unique problem-solving capabilities, gifts and achievements with the world so that others can benefit from your contributions. After all, isn’t that why you’re in business?

Self-promotion can be challenging for some, but research has shown that it’s particularly difficult for women. On average, women tend to wait for others to notice and acknowledge their accomplishments or successes and as a result their contributions are less remembered and celebrated. As a business owner, it’s important to be accountable for getting credit for your accomplishments. False modesty is not a virtue and in fact it’s self-defeating and not good business. If you’re confident that you, your business, your product, your organization or your event will add value or positively impact, influence or uplift the life of others, then it’s your job to share it and promote it.

Here are five simple everyday ways you can engage in self-promotion:

1. Be impeccable with your word. Yes, this is one of the four agreements, but it’s also one of the keys to self-promotion. Nothing is more powerful than integrity and dependability, so be sure to keep your agreements and commitments, and deliver on any promotions or promises.

2. Communicate what you do. Everyone you know including neighbors, clubs and church members should know what you do, as well as the results and/or positive impact of your work. This doesn’t mean that you pitch your business or service every time they see you. Instead, you want to be sure they understand what you do and who you service so referrals can be quickly and easily given.

3. Share your knowledge. Give free seminars, create a blog, or offer to present for your local Rotary Club. Giving free content not only educates those around you, it gives folks an opportunity to get know you and gain a sense of how you do business.

4. Dress for success. One of the perks of working for yourself is setting your own dress code. However, your clothing communicates a message to potential customers and clients and you want to send the right message. So be sure to represent and dress like the CEO of your brand. This is equally true for any professional photos and marketing material.

5. Be socially present. Accessibility and visibility are key components to business success. In addition to networking and taking on leadership roles in networking, social and philanthropic organizations, you need to be present on social media. Sharing what you do, your accomplishments and even how you overcame challenges will extend your network and community nationally and internationally. However, be sure whatever you post on social media complies with strategies #1 and #4 above.

If you need help polishing and projecting your professional and executive presence, a certified trained image consultant can help you with the foundational aspects of positively promoting you and your business.

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. These columns specialize in strategies for developing a positive and professional self-image. Walsh can be reached at carol@evolvingyourimage.com.

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