You are your own publicist. Don’t wait for someone to generate press about you. Make some moves and let others know the real deal on who you are and what you bring to the table. Our society isn’t great at “good news”. We thrive in bad news. Some of us yearn for a juicy story about the current downfall of the day. A puppy rescuing a cat from a tree gets that last little bit of news as the credits are beginning to roll and oops, the screen totally blacked out before the story was complete! I beg my students to tell me how many philanthropic dollars they raised or community service hours have been completed by the chapter but I can’t escape the poor behavior (alleged and real) of our students that lead to negative news coverage.
People don’t walk around with an extra supply of gold stars to give to you when you commit an act of awesomeness. You’d better get to Hobby Lobby and secure your own arsenal of gold stars, smiley faces, and those Good Job stickers with a red apple in the background. Remember those?
My hope is that we all have a set of personal cheerleaders BUT if you don’t then you’ve got to become your own and fast. I’m not telling you to be arrogant but I am telling you to be confident and convinced that you have skills, competencies, talents, traits, experiences, and tendencies that need to be promoted and celebrated.
If you want to get ahead you are going to have to become comfortable giving yourself the proverbial high-five. Though, I ain’t really mad at you giving yourself a literal high-five ;). I mean sometimes you are just THAT amazeballs!
Here are some tips for success:
1. An easy way to do this is to constantly update your resume. We often update it when we need to but in the meantime we don’t even look at the document. Because those experiences have now passed us by we might lose some of the descriptive intensity that could add a new layer of richness to our resume.
Keep a comprehensive list of projects you’ve completed. Everything might not have made it onto the resume but that doesn’t mean that it was unimportant or lacked an impact on your growth as a professional. Be able to share what you do all day. Also, when performance review time arrives you’ll already have a list of programs, projects, and positions that you can share with your boss to aid you in achieving exemplary marks on your review.
2. Hone in on the transferable skills that exist in all of our positions. I always say that working in Greek Life has given me an incredibly well-rounded skill set. When people see Greek Life they might just think basic advisement of sororities/fraternities BUT when they look deeper they can see that there are aspects of Leadership Development, Multicultural Affairs, Residence Life, Crisis and Risk Management, Student Conduct, Orientation, and Parent & Family Relations. My job is to learn how to clearly articulate how what I have done can easily be relevant to another position. Articulation of transferable skills can get you positions that on the surface you never thought would be accessible to you.
3. Engage in relationship building. People are always going to ask you these questions:
1. What do you do? 2. Where do you work? 3. In my case, what does that mean? 4. Where are you from? 5. Where did you go to college? Learn how to have a “dinner party” story of your life. I don’t necessarily suggest that we go around basing our life off of Twitter but it has led many people to understand how many extra words they use on a daily basis to say simple things. How can you answer these questions in a way that keeps people engaged in the conversation. Go ahead and hand out that business card—I mean, they order them in a bulk of 500 so I suggest you start disseminating if you plan to rid your desk of them at some point in the near future. Challenge yourself to meet 3 new people at every new interaction you have with a group, remember them and follow up in a timely manner. People love a good informal coffee or lunch interaction.
4. Keep your references aware of where you are and what you are doing as well as your overall vision for your professional life. We often list a reference, the person gets called or has to write a letter on your behalf and then we might tell them the outcome or we might not and before we know it we’ve been in a position for multiple years and haven’t checked back in with our initial references. Keep those folks informed and close to you so that you can develop a diverse pool of professionals to make that critical call or send the letter that could ultimately set you apart from other candidates.
5. Report your life updates to any outlets in which you have access. For instance, when things happen in my world that I deem worthwhile and newsworthy I send an update to my Alumni Magazine for my undergraduate program and the e-newsletter for my graduate school program. Your alumnae chapter might have a newsletter or your inter/national organization might have an alumnae update feature. Maybe you are in the Junior League and you can submit posts to the JL Publication. You never know who’s reading.
6. Speak up! When you are in a situation such as a seminar, training, conference, or another meeting of the minds do yourself a solid and share your thoughts or ask a question. People will recognize that you are engaged and curious about the matter at hand. They will hear your voice and might just remember that you are that clever person who asked that earth shattering question or made that incredibly profound remark. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic but bare minimum they will know you are in the room. That’s certainly 10 points ahead of where you started when you sat down with your snazzy Padfolio.
7. Apply for things—ask for opportunities—generate projects that will contribute to the outcome of your organization’s mission, goals, and vision. If you want people to know what you are capable of doing then you have to DO SOMETHING!! Step up and volunteer for committees, boards, focus groups, and task forces. Sometimes you are just appointed to these opportunities or as I like to say, “voluntold” and that could be incredibly beneficial. After internal reflection and proper discernment say “Yes!” to these chances to show ‘em what you got. This is also helpful when it comes to intentional resume building. What experiences do you think you are “missing” for your next ideal position? Could you get that experience at your current job? If so, make that happen.
8. This might sound super simple but, uh, it might be good for you to simply SHOW UP!! Attention and opportunities go to those who are in the room. You might be surprised by who notices your presence and appreciates that you are there, on time (EARLY), and ready to be a part of the team. Maybe there is a program or event that you know your other colleagues are not going to attend but perhaps there are some key people in the room. If I were you, I might just be attending that program (hint, hint).
9. You need to take time to craft your authentic image in written and verbal mediums. I should also add that since social media has taken over the world you really need to clean it up out there on the World Wide Web. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and LinkedIn plus countless other sites could keep you from progressing in your area of choice. What happens when I Google you? You might want to try that right now…No, like seriously, Google yourself. If you want people to look at those sites and see the polished professional you are then you might want to consistently update and manage the content of these sites. People will search for you…
10. In reference to social media—use it intelligently. Post strategically about what you are up to in your professional world. Could you take time to author a reflective blog about an educational experience? Could you use it to create a continued networking and professional development channel? The answer is yes to both those questions.
Your actions and your words should go hand in hand and that is certainly the case when one is being an effective personal publicist. Cliche Time: ”Act in the way you wish to be seen” “Perception is reality.” ”Practice what you preach.” “Talk the talk and walk the walk.” Your actions should not drown out your words; they should match them and enhance their power. Congruence is CRITICAL to the success of your PR efforts. Remember, DWYSYWD- “Do what you said you would do”.
So, take some time over the next week and put the puzzle of you together. Then figure out the best way for you to display this puzzle to others. Just know that until the DCC (Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders) start following you from door to door you’ve got to become comfortable tooting your own horn, if not you; then who? Toot! Toot!