At the risk of being shot down in flames I don’t think that a reluctance to self promote is always and exclusively a gender issue. I know as many men who struggle as badly with framing their success stories and articulating them as women. I also come across any number of women who will self-promote at the drop of a Philip Treacy.
What I have observed over time is that once men have understood what they need to do and the process, they do become more at ease and adept with simply presenting the facts and adopting strong and appropriate vocabulary to present themselves in the best possible light. Why? Because they know their content will be well received by a primarily male audience.
Women on the other hand who do the same, feel and fear they will be judged more harshly than the men, because gender stereotypical expectations suggest that they should be more retiring and modest, as well as being more communally orientated than self-centred. So personal branding is counter- intuitive for many women.
According to Connie Glaser, author and women’s leadership expert, societal expectations for female behavior promote modesty and collaboration, but these characteristics don’t necessarily lead to professional advancement. This requires actions closely associated with standing out from the crowd rather than blending in, by being able to identify, articulate and promote our USPs.
We know that women are competitive and are more than willing to be highly visible in all sorts of other arenas (homes, husbands, kids, recipes, gardens, b.m.i.). But how can women overcome this reluctance to self promote professionally and develop a badly needed personal brand, which for many doesn’t come naturally?
Snow boarding is a learned skill. So are driving and dancing. But women do learn how to do all three.
- Tasteful self – promotion
It’s not necessary to stand on a soap box proclaiming brilliance to the world. Women can do some or all of the following to promote their success stories:
- Self-insight : Women need to be able to identify, recall and articulate those successes, both on demand and even when not requested. There are no short cuts.
- Use powerful vocabulary: there is no need to appear boastful. If you ran a team of 100, or closed a deal worth several million – simply say that. It’s not necessary to embellish by telling people what a great sales person or manager you are – that will now be evident. Powerful action words such as led, ran, created, drove, initiated, generated, leveraged should feature regularly in self evaluations.
- Harness modern technology : women are great at building relationships and should leverage these to generate recommendations for their LinkedIn profiles, creating websites showing testimonials and by keeping copies of any complimentary emails and performance reviews for future use.
- Accept praise and compliments graciously: bite your lip on lines such as “it was nothing ” or “it was a team effort” or ” I got lucky“. It is OK to say “I worked really hard and am very proud of the result.” Don’t forget we create our own luck.
- Create a strategic network. Extending brand reach by widening your reputation. Set up a professional profile ona platforms such as LinkedIn, Xing or Viadeo. Tap into your Facebook network for professional purposes as well as social relationships. Being known as a strong resource will be always be helpful. Find people to support, sponsor and mentor you, not just to chat to! Return the favour. Let people around you know what your goals are and that you are ambitious.
Women also have to be prepared to ask for support. They seek specialist advice from others in every area imaginable: physical fitness, snowboarding, their nails, health issues, styling, children and marriage guidance, but place far less emphasis on professional support.
This is an additional barrier which needs tackling .