Self-Promotion, Part II: Four Don’ts

How to NOT Shoot Yourself in the Foot!

Our work environment is so fast-paced and full of distractions, if we wait for our supervisor/our customer/our peers to notice we’re doing great work, we’re going to be waiting a long time.

In my last post, I shared the first half of my recent presentation to Women@Hyatt, an event for women from the Hyatt hotels around Dallas-Fort Worth. In that post, I talked about the DOs for promoting yourself. Now I want to talk about the DON’Ts. If you’re not careful, a few bad habits can shoot holes in all the great ways you’re performing and promoting that performance. Be conscious of these four:

1. DON’T … Apologize or minimize your abilities. Attempts to come off as humble, when overdone, can come across as insincere – or worse – insecure. An example from Robin Meade, from Headline News’ Morning Express:

“Once I told a producer, ‘Go ahead and edit my story! I don’t know what I’m doing!’ She later used that against me when I asked for a raise. Self-deprecation can backfire!”

2. DON’T … be so sorry all the time. Have you ever made a mistake at work and it literally kept you up at night? The next day – even after you owned it the day before – you go to your boss and say, “I’ve been thinking about what happened, and I just wanted to emphasize how sorry I am and reinforce that it’ll never happen again.”

No one is going to give you brownie points for dwelling on it. And why are you reminding people you made a mistake?

A friend who owns an IT company has a great example of owning a mistake. His male techs are hard-pressed to acknowledge an error, but his female techs apologize so much, his customers start to wonder what else they might have done wrong.

Women are notorious for this. “I’m sorry to interrupt …” You’re being polite but you’re leading with a negative. “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” Why preface your question with an apology?

Approach it this way: If you mess up, say you’re sorry – once! Then fix it and move on.

3. DON’T … Let self-doubt own you. I was editing a document and it was time get it to the client, but this negative, nagging voice in my head was saying “I wish I had more time! I can do better!” I had to say to myself, “Get over yourself and hit send.”

The client said, “I thought your changes were excellent. It is really great to have someone to work with who understands us. I wrote things like ‘Yes’ and ‘Perfect!’ in the margin.”

Don’t let the negative nagger in your head own you! Own her! The way I owned my visibility (remember the last post?) in that example? I sent the client’s email to my supervisor, and she sent it to the senior partner.

4. DON’T … wait. Don’t wait for someone else to talk you up, throw your hat in the ring, or decide you’re awesome. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, right? So do it! I would love to see your examples of owning your visibility. Do you have an example as a business owner? As a concerned citizen? As a person who once had to stand up for his- or herself? Please share in the comments!

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