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Self-Promotion at Work: 8 Tips for Shy People

Self-Promotion at Work: 8 Tips for Shy People

IT people are often taught that their work should speak for itself, but if you want to survive the economic downturn with your job intact, you've got to promote your work. Here are eight ways to self-promote without being obnoxious.

Unless you're a narcissist, self-promotion isn't an instinctive behavior. In fact, promoting yourself and your work can feel downright unseemly, like you're whoring yourself.

It's no wonder self-promotion feels so unnatural for most of us: No one likes a braggart, and bragging is one behavior that every culture seems to condemn, from East to West.

"In Asia they have the expression, 'The tallest nail gets hit first.' In Australia, it's called Tall Poppy Syndrome because the tallest poppy gets its head whacked off by a machete," says Peggy Klaus, a workplace communication and leadership expert, who literally wrote the book on self-promotion. (It's called Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.)

If you're Catholic, add Klaus, then you've probably heard the expression, 'Pride cometh before the fall', which warns against the sin of arrogance.

Self-promotion can be particularly hard for IT professionals because on top of cultural conditioning, they came out of education systems where the quality of their work spoke for itself-so they didn't have to, says Jim Anderson, an IT consultant. To an IT pro, promoting your work feels like you're putting your left shoe on your right foot, adds Curt Rosengren, a career coach who previously worked in the technology industry.

As loath as we may be to beat our chests and preen our feathers at work, we have to, especially if we want to survive this economic downturn with our jobs intact, career experts say.

"1.2 million people are out of work, and it's only going to get worse," says Klaus. "You need to let people know what it is that you're doing, the success you're having, the obstacles you've overcome, the projects you're completing, so that when those layoffs are being contemplated, you come to mind as a person they need to retain."

Klaus makes a good point: We need to tell our bosses what we're working on and what we've accomplished. That's self-promotion at its most basic, and it has nothing to do with bluster or bombast, but everything to do with facts. And we don't have to feel dirty about facts.

"Your bosses aren't psychic," says Klaus. "Bosses tell me, 'I have 70 people I oversee. I don't know what each one is doing. They need to let me know."

Still need more encouragement? These eight techniques will help you promote yourself in the office without looking obnoxious. You don't have to implement all of them. Selecting even just a few of them that are appropriate for your work environment will give you a good start.

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