How You Can Promote Yourself at Work

You are the expert on your own story. But that story won’t go very far if you don’t share it with the people who might one day be the key to a promotion or other opportunity for your career. What you need are ways to share your story—your strengths, skills, enthusiasm, dedication, and potential—without becoming the office egotist.

Before you begin to use any of these tips, it will help to think of promoting yourself as part of your job. Ensuring that your boss(es) and coworkers know what you do, what you’re good at, and what they can count on you to accomplish will help you successfully weather an economic downturn, company downsizing, or merger as well as position you as top choice for a promotion. Really, you aren’t boasting, you’re just keeping your boss in the loop of what you’re doing for the team.

So, even if you’re naturally shy, here are nine fail-safe ways to promote yourself at work without annoying the entire office.

  1. Understand your skills and accomplishments. This is your personal inventory of what you do best as well as your unique skills. It’s a bonus if you can concretely link your strengths to success at work. And don’t forget that skills can include “soft” skills that managers value, like conflict resolution, collaboration, analytical reasoning, people management, and process innovation. Making a list of these to have on hand is never a bad idea.
  2. Focus on the projects. Self-promotion is often the byproduct of sharing passion—people remember passion, and so they remember the co-workers who shared their enthusiasm for a project or challenge. Simply by sharing successful project updates at team meetings or casual gatherings in the lunch room, you’re sharing your success at the same time. You’ll be an obvious team player, but you’ll also have an opportunity to make your part in the accomplishment known.
  3. Share kudos and gratitude with your team. Team leaders and managers aren’t the only ones who can—and should—acknowledge and thank those who helped meet a deadline or deliver exactly what a client asked for. Give those who helped you recognition at an office meeting or in private with your boss. Perhaps suggest a way to reward and share kudos with team members with a special lunch or coffee and doughnuts. Your manager will notice your interest in building up others.
  4. Make yourself an expert. Subject matter experts are always in demand—even more so when people know they’re only one desk away from them! Consider posting blogs or your insights on leading industry news via LinkedIn. Consistent activity will soon mark you as a reliable source of information and maybe even thought leadership. This is also a great way to branch out and begin learning information that could help on your next promotion application.
  5. Reach out to other departments. If you know what other people do at your company, you’ll be able to quickly see if you can lend assistance or even tell your boss who they need to speak to for that key metric for the upcoming presentation. Believe it or not, staying up-to-date on the roles of people outside of your department makes you a valuable resource for co-workers up and down the management ladder.
  6. Casual conversations. Casual chit-chat around the coffee pot is a huge percentage of the communication you conduct at work. For this reason, it shouldn’t be missed as an opportunity to share that enthusiasm talked about earlier for your projects in-the-works. Focus on how it will impact the company as a whole as well as what others are contributing to the work. Take the opportunity next time someone asks you “What’s new?” in the hallway to tell them about your latest project and what excited you about the end product or result.
  7. Performance reviews. Whether you have one once a year or regularly discuss your personal SMART goals with your boss, these moments are key opportunities for factual, unashamed self-promotion. If you do only meet once a year for this kind of review, keep a list with successes, overcome challenges, and peer feedback throughout the year to remind your boss of your growth.
  8. Share positive feedback. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of revolving deadlines, we forget to pass along client and co-worker compliments to our bosses. If this feels too much like a direct boast, add a comment in the forwarded email that will connect the compliment to a project or product goal and that compels your boss to respond. This will help cement the memory in their minds the next time they need to fill an empty leadership position.
  9. Volunteer yourself. As long as it doesn’t affect your primary responsibilities, volunteer to join that new committee or help with that last-minute presentation your boss is stressing over. Become the go-to person when anyone in your department needs input or a few extra hours of assistance. In no time at all, your co-workers will be acknowledging how easy you make their jobs!