Self-Promoting Yourself at Work – 5 Tips to Nail This Art Form

Many women with successful careers will point to effective self-promotion as an essential tool they leaned on to help propel them up the career ladder.

When you think about it, there can be lots of hurdles to overcome when it comes to getting this “art form” right…take too braggish of a tone and you’re not credible, craft too long of a story and risk losing your audience, etc. In addition, self-promotion might not be an instinctive behavior, particularly if you self-identify as an introvert.

Done well, self-promotion should be approached as a marathon vs. a sprint. Ideally, the goal is to showcase consistently over time how you think, solve problems and seize opportunities vs. a one-and-done share out.

Here are five tips on how to self-promote with grace, confidence and credibility.

  1. Get the “who” right – Think about your opportunities to influence upward, downward and sideways. It’s often best to preview with your manager so she’s in-the-know and can even coach on areas to showcase. Once vetted, share outcomes and lessons learned with a broader audience and/or senior leadership.
  1. Share the good, bad & the ugly – Often our instincts aren’t to show vulnerability and instead to focus on positive results. Your insights will be viewed as more credible if you’re not just gushing about a project’s success but also sharing opportunities for improvement and what you learned along the way.
  1. Lift up while climbing – Share the credit by using both “I” and “we” to recognize your unique contributions as well as the efforts of those on your team, business partners and yes, your managers. After all, if they look good, you look good. And, if they’re happy, you’re happy.
  1. Don’t make it one-way – Consistently acknowledge colleagues’ contributions to projects (yours or their own) to demonstrate your interest and support. And, privately and publicly say thank you to your team for their efforts, often.
  1. Embrace brevity – More people are likely to read/listen all the way through if you send an email or share a presentation that tells a great story, concisely.

We’d love to hear other tips that have worked for you, even lessons learned from major fails!


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Christina Klenotic

Christina Klenotic believes that you can be nice and successful in your career (screw mean people). She also doesn’t believe in having more kids than arms since she’s frequently toting both of her toddlers around Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Or, biking with them both on her mamacycle (baby seat in the front, tandem in the back).

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I once had a colleague who used “I” in every report she gave. It got to the point where eyeballs rolled whenever she spoke. Her staff rebelled by leaving for greener pastures. My point is that people do notice if you are a credit hog.

    And I agree with sharing the good, bad and ugly. This same person surprising had nothing but success stories to share. Our budget told another story.

    I make a point to always personally and publicly thank my team or colleagues in other departments for their support or work (and even if I don’t believe they contributed much!). I believe being generous with my gratitude has made others want to put in the extra effort for me. And if I can name drop in front of other executives or our board, even better. It’s so easy to do and the benefits continue long after the meeting.

  • Autumn, great points. I think everyone is afraid of being THAT person. Love the acknowledgement practices that you mention too.

  • Christina, I hope many young women read this, because your advice is spot on. I have some additional thoughts based on my experience. Rather than self-promotion, I call this “advocating for yourself” and “managing up.” I learned that in the male-dominated corporate environment I was in, subtlety was my best tool. I sometimes needed to self-advocate with my own bosses, who were not all good leaders. I would send emails that documented specifically how what I had accomplished contributed to THEIR goals and made THEM look good to their bosses. When I worked with clients outside the company, if I received a compliment, I forwarded it with a note that indicated “we” made the client happy. More importantly, whenever I gained additional information or knowledge from an outside source or my own research that would help the team or my boss, I shared it with him/her, whether it was positive or negative. Being well informed made me the go-to source and helped assure my value. And one more recommendation: it’s important to develop and protect a positive reputation and avoid permanently alienating others you might work with at the company. People I thought I would never deal with again were “reorganized” and ended up as teammates on various unexpected projects, and I was glad I had maintained a positive relationship to build on.

  • Robin, thank you for your perspective. You’re definitely right about never burning a bridge since you never know when and in what context you might be working with someone again.

  • I love messages like this one that try to shed light on ways to handle challenges women face in the corporate world. I don’t live in Cleveland any more. I’ve lived in the bay area for about 10 years now but I love to connect with women from Cleveland.

    I’d like to share the best thing I’ve run across regarding this subject. Jo Miller has her own consulting firm, she coaches women in their careers. As a former member of the Financial Women’s Association and the Bay area women MBA’s, I’ve run across quite a few speakers on this subject and women that coach women in business but Jo Miller is the best I’ve seen. I attended one of her workshops that had action oriented steps to take to break through barriers. It was pretty reasonably priced as I recall, better than many that are geared for women who have already made it into high positions which is out of reach for the rest of us. I am in no way affiliated with her, I just wanted to post this message about her though as I am sure there are women all over the country and the world that face these challenges and don’t know what to do about it. Her website is I hope others find this helpful.



    • Oh, what do you know. The site has a blog just for women in business. I didn’t realize it was divided like this, I was just responding to the post before checking out this whole blog website. Thank you for doing this.

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