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Why Self-Promotion is an Important Part of Your Social-Impact Career

A square plate and a pencil.

Self-promotion—done the right way—can keep you honest about what you want out of your career and may prove to be instrumental in helping you achieve your goals.

While singing your own praises may not always come naturally, here are a few small steps you can take toward making self-promotion a regular part of your personal and professional development.

Seek out leadership roles

While one of the most obvious paths to leadership is to simply apply for a promotion or an executive-level opportunity, here are some other ways to show your leadership potential without the title.

  • Offer to interview and train your organization’s cohort of fall interns. Even if there isn’t an intern joining your own team or department, participating in the interviewing and onboarding process can give you a taste of what may be required to someday manage a group of interns.
  • Volunteer to be involved in coordinating or managing an internal training. If you’re familiar with a software program or system that’s new to your colleagues, lead a session to cover the basics; you may even want to put together a manual.
  • Take the initiative to create a handbook or manual for your department or your particular role. This could come in the form of a shared team document that lives in the cloud and is organized by procedures, where supplies and important information are kept, who to contact depending on the question or task, and technical and procedural troubleshooting tips.
  • Check in with mentors. They may be able to advise you on other ways to pursuing leadership opportunities. There may also be an opportunity to lend your own expertise to a project on which your mentor is already working.

Actively looking for ways to develop your leadership style may serve as a helpful reference point for your next performance review while actually flexing that leadership muscle can help you get in the habit of advocating for yourself in order to move your professional goals forward.

Showcase your expertise

In this age of social and digital media, personal branding is an undeniable part of our lives. Here are a few ways to showcase your expertise both online and in person:

  • Guest blog: Contribute to your favorite blogs or outlets that provide advice on best practices and the latest social-impact news and trends such as Classy, Nonprofit Marketing Guide, Impact Boom, or Stanford Social Innovation Review.
  • Try self-publishing: Starting your own blog can be an effective way to build a brand and establish yourself as an expert in your area. If the thought of building a blog and an audience is overwhelming, consider publishing on Medium or even Quora.
  • Start a podcast: If you have a compelling idea for your own social-impact podcast, consider taking the leap and launching it. This could be a great complement to a blog or give you courage to reach out to others in your field for interviews.
  • Engage on social media: Sharing your articles and blog posts, engaging with influencers, and participating in Twitter chats can help you build your audience, brand, and professional network.

Whatever you decide to do, try to be consistent. You’ll soon grow accustomed to putting yourself out there and find a new confidence in presenting yourself as an expert in what you do.

Speak up

If you know that you have regular departmental meetings, do a bit of extra preparation to present a new idea, whether that means proposing a new project management system or making a minor change to a team process. If you’ve recently undergone a training for professional development, consider presenting what you learned and how you plan to use this knowledge.

Maybe you’re not comfortable putting yourself front and center in the meeting room, but you can still find creative ways to get your message across. That could mean:

  • Putting your ideas down on paper: If you have an idea for a new campaign, put together a proposal for your boss or team and ask for feedback.
  • Presenting your case during a performance review: If you’ve been eyeing a promotion, this may be the opportune moment to lay out your accomplishments and aims and build a case for advancement.
  • Asking for a lunch or coffee meeting: Take the stress out of the situation by suggesting a one-on-one lunch or coffee meeting with your supervisor or senior colleague. Even if you’re simply interested in bouncing an idea off that colleague, you may feel a bit more relaxed to speak freely in a less formal setting.

Demonstrating your skills and communicating what you know and want is a vital part of feeling satisfied with what you do on a daily basis, reassessing your goals, and growing your career. And while it may feel awkward to focus on yourself, this can actually help you find a balance between supporting your own professional drive and your organization’s mission.

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About the Author | Yoona Wagener is a freelance writer and WordPress developer who believes in the value of nonlinear career paths. She has experience in academic publishing, teaching English abroad, serving up customer support to software end users, writing online help documentation, and mission-driven nonprofit marketing and communications.

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