I learned the hard way that if you don't promote yourself, you're doing yourself a giant career injustice.
It's because other people are doing it!
I remember when it happened to me.
I was sitting at my desk, going over my emails when I saw the announcement.
Blake was promoted to a position that was higher on the company food chain than I was.
I wondered, "How did this happen?"
"Blake has less experience than I do."
"He doesn't have the management skills I have."
"Blake hasn't had anywhere near the management success that I've had?"
So how did he get a job I always wanted, when I didn't know it was even available?
I picked up the phone and called my boss. I tried to make some small talk before I sprung it on him.
It wasn't easy because my heart was racing.
Then he said, "how about Blake, isn't that great for him?"
I said meekly, "yea I saw the announcement, that's awesome for him."
Then I asked, "I'm just curious, I didn't know the position was open, don't they have to post those jobs?"
He said, "No, not at that high a position."
I wanted to explode. I thought, "this guy is above me now!"
"How did he get a job I deserved?"
That's when my boss said, "you know Blake, he was always good at tooting his own horn to upper management."
I started to feel sick because I knew I didn't like doing that.
I was brought up to believe, "let your accomplishments speak for themselves."
Boy, was that bad advice!
About an hour later, I decided I was going to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something.
Just then, one of my salespeople walked into my office, asking me to sign this form.
We called it a "customer contribution report."
It's how we documented all the successes we had with our customers.
We included cost savings, productivity improvements, that sort of thing.
The goal was to make sure our customers knew all we were doing for them.
This way, when someone came in with a lower price, we would pull these out to remind them of all the great stuff we did.
Customers were excited to get them because they used what we gave them to promote themselves to their boss.
It never failed, they would rush to their bosses, and before long, they gave us more business.
Plus, when I would see their upper management in the halls, they were always happy to see me, because they knew everything we were doing to help them be successful.
So we both won.
That's when it hit me.
I needed to start doing this for my career!
So I put together a form that listed every accomplishment I had during a specific period.
I listed the cost savings, productivity enhancements, and any new sales we brought in because of something I did.
During a one on one meeting with my boss, I pulled out my thick twenty-two-page report.
I had all my documentation.
As I got to page four, I could see my boss looking at his watch and fidgeting.
And I still had eighteen more pages to go.
That's when I said, "why don't we end it here?" A smile and a sense of relief came on on his face.
I knew what I did wrong.
First, I should have made each accomplishment one bullet, and have the documentation with me in case there was a question.
Second, I needed it to be about what's in it for my boss.
In other words, how would it make him look good so he could take it to his boss?
I reworked my form to one page with ten bullets.
By the second bullet, his eyes got big, and he had this smirk on his face.
I said, "Is everything ok, do you want me to keep going?"
He said, "yea, yea, keep going, I'm just thinking."
When we got to bullet eight, I saw him shaking his head, as if to say no.
I re-read it and realized it was all about me, not him.
So I breezed through it and went to bullet nine.
A week later, I was at a regional meeting when one of corporate's top guy's fast-walked up to me and said, "Mike," to get my attention.
I didn't think this guy even knew who I was.
He had a giant smile on his face.
He said, "Hey Mike, your boss told me what you did with getting rid of all that excess inventory."
I said, "he did?"
He said, "yea he did, and we're going to use your idea as a best practice throughout the company, isn't that awesome, nice job!"
Then he shook my hand.
In the end, I did get a more significant role with the company, and that was great.
But, the primary lesson I learned is, whenever I promote myself, I needed to be concise, and only include what's in it for the other person, not just me.
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