Often in business, we are underestimated. Whether it’s due to gender, race, age, or experience, assumptions are made quickly and they are hard to change. To set yourself apart, you need to recognize your strengths and market them appropriately. If you don’t put effort into personal promotion, you can stall your career and allow others to undervalue you.
I learned the dangers of not speaking up at the age of 10 when my extended family was together for a reunion. The girls were planning their perfect weddings while the boys were playing baseball. For me, the choice was obvious. I grabbed my glove and ran onto the infield to take my position at third base. I was quickly cautioned by a distant cousin’s soon-to-be husband, Ted, to “be careful, little girl.” He then sent me to play in the outfield next to my uncle for protection in case anyone hit the ball near me.
When it was my turn to bat, Ted told me to find a lighter bat than the boys were using. Silent about my softball experience, I allowed Ted to strip away my confidence. He handed me a wooden toddler bat and walked halfway to the pitcher’s mound. He decided to pitch much closer to me than the boys. So, I thought I probably couldn’t hit the ball as hard as they did. He lobbed the ball through the air and said, “hit it as hard as you can, little girl.”
I did. I hit a line drive. Unfortunately for Ted, it was directly into his face. Ted dropped to the ground as blood covered most of his soon-to-be-married face.
I split open Ted’s chin and knocked out a few of his teeth. Ted and I both learned important lessons that day. While Ted realized that gender has nothing to do with ability, I realized the danger of not speaking up about my talents.
I see this happen all the time in business. Don’t let someone else minimize you and create self-doubt. Here are a few tips to help you demonstrate your expertise and set yourself apart:
Be confident in your strengths. If you have an aptitude for something, let it be known. Avoid using diminishing language like sort of, maybe we should, or I guess. If your supervisor is looking for someone to take on a new responsibility, they won’t choose the employee who is “sort of good at it.”
Make sure you are always on the minds of your superiors and peers. You want to be the first person they think of when a new task surfaces. Volunteer for special projects that leverage your strengths and set you apart. And, don’t phone it in at meetings, whether live or virtual. Be sure to engage in conversations and find a way to add value.
Social media is a great way to share experiences and achievements without it coming off as bragging. Posting articles on LinkedIn, engaging in content on Twitter, and promoting yourself on company intranets demonstrates your confidence and knowledge while keeping you relevant.
Observe those in positions that you aspire to fill one day. Learn from them and make their strategies your own. Consider how you dress and dress the part for the position you want. Not the position you have. This will help others see you differently.
In business, you will always be competing with people who have a similar skill set and experience. Set yourself apart and challenge assumptions by demonstrating your confidence in person and online. Being aware of your strengths and marketing them appropriately will help you get to the next level in your career. And, call us if you need help.