5 Ways to Self-Promote — From an Introvert
Self-promote and introvert feels like they shouldn’t be in the same sentence together. Look, we all know that some people seem to fair incredibly well at work by doing very little. They do in fact do very little, but if you spoke to them and they explained what they did, well you’d wonder how the company would survive without them. They are, or so they tell you, the main person involved in solving the biggest problems the company has. Of course they’ve pretty much solved them all, naturally.
Most people actively despise these people but you’ve got to give them credit for one thing — they self-promote very well. And whilst it’s not always a good thing to do it incessantly, it is good to self-promote in general. It feels incredibly unnatural. You might cringe at the very thought of it. I do. But it is a necessary part of work. Like it or not. It is.
In school we never had to worry about this. We all took the same tests and the teacher would mark them — she’d know who was doing well and who wasn’t. From that she could infer who was listening, who was really trying hard and who was just at the back of the class having a good old time and not doing much else. In work it’s not like that. It’s not like that in the slightest. In work you could be at the back of the class, having a laugh with your mates and still be seen as the best in class. How? Well, you self-promote.
Self-promotion doesn’t have to be a cringey subject. Whilst I completely why it has become one, I personally can’t stand the idea of it but over the years I’ve learnt to become a little more comfortable with it. Businesses, at least big ones, are a game of numbers. When there are a lot of people in a business, it’s hard to know who’s doing what. And that’s how the girls at the back of the class can get away with doing not much of anything and still look like they are smashing it. It’s all about perception. So how do we self-promote as an introvert?
Just Like Instagram
Perception is a funny thing. It’s about how people think you are doing. It’s about the way you are thought to be doing something. Often, perception is build through very little physical evidence whatsoever. Take Instagram for instance, the king of perception. You may look through your feed and see that girl you went to school with living the high life. She’s lives in the South of France, she takes pictures on yachts every other day, all her friends mark a solid 8/10 in attractiveness and she is apparently sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger. What a dream life. But the truth, what actually is going on could be the complete opposite (although I’m not sure what the opposite of being sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger is). My point is that your opinion of her is build on what someone wants you to see. It’s based on a number of self-selected photos. There is no evidence to prove the contray and that’s because she is in control of the evidence.
Self-promotion is your Instagram of work. Although I would advice actually doing a decent amount of work. You can filter what people see. You control the narrative.
So how do you self-promote as an introvert without looking like a total plonker? Well there are so ways to do it for sure.
#1 Talk About Your Work
Get in the habit of talking about your work. When someone, anyone, asks you how it’s going, assume that they are asking about your work.
“Yeah really well, I’m working on this project at the moment, we’ve just managed to secure this funding, so the next step is to do ‘x’ ‘y’ and then ‘z’.”
Getting into the habit of talking about your work makes it feel more natural. You don’t have to be screaming about how good you are but if you can get into a natural flow of talking about your work, when your boss asks you how everything is going, you can talk with enthusiasm about what you’ve been up to. Talking things through often gives you the opportunity to think in a different way. So it actually might benefit your work.
#2 Share Good Feedback
If your boss isn’t close to your work, they might not know how hard you are working. By sharing feedback you are getting from people you are working with or better, getting them to share it directly, your boss will know exactly how well you are doing. It feels a bit unnatural and I admit, this one is tricky. It’s all about making sure that the good feedback is flowing. Make sure that the feedback is going directly to your boss and that they are aware how other people think it’s going.
#3 Tell a Story
To self-promote and be an introvert is hard. However, context is everything. If you are able to talk about the journey you’ve gone on, you can bring people along with you. It makes people feel included, as if they are on the journey with you. Not only does it help with their understanding, it concretes some learning for them. That’s important. You boss might get told new information 30 times a day. You can make your information stand out by taking them through a story of what’s gone on.
By contexting your work, you give them the opportunity to get on board with what you are saying. If you start at the end it gives the work less soul and less clarity. They then may not remember what you said in the first place.
By telling a story you make your work standout, it gives your work soul and people remember that.
#4 Give Yourself the Opportunity
Find the time to sell your work. Weekly catch-ups are a good idea. It keeps the conversation flowing and gives your boss a constant update on what you’re doing and if you need any steer. By scheduling time, it gives your work some gravity too.
You’re saying ‘this is important’ by booking about 30 minutes a week to talk about it. That’s important because your work is important and it’s key that you communicate that.
Carving out time, making your boss feel that the work is important and helping her understand what your blockers are all part of the process of getting them invested in what you’re doing.
#5 Weight the Amount of People You’ve Spoken To
If you can communicate who you have engaged in the conversations it will help give your work more weight. People like other people to know what’s going on. In a big business it matters. It’s important to keep people in the loop and the right people knowing about the right work is absolutely critical.
Don’t name drop but make sure you make a conscious effort to include how far and wide you’ve spread the communication. If it’s important enough, it will have gone to a few folks. That’s important.
The more people you get talking about your work, the better.
Self-promotion can make us feel like we want to curl up in a corner and hide. It’s especially unnatural if you’re introverted. It’s quite guaranteed that the last thing you want is to show off how great you are. Although self-promotion doesn’t have to be that artificial. It can be, if done right, a natural part of business.
Like anything, practice makes perfect. The reality is self-promotion will always have a place in business. By not part-taking you’re not abstaining from the game, you’re just losing.