In 1950s Atlanta, Ga., when I was a child, my mother taught me to be modest and demure.
"Don't be a braggart," she would say. And if I got a compliment, "Now don't get too big for your britches!" Or, "Pride goes before a fall." As a result, I grew up thinking it was somehow not a good thing to talk about myself or promote my accomplishments.
The world has changed since the 1950s, and we're not in Atlanta anymore. Today, if you don't tell your story, no one else will. You'll not receive the recognition you deserve, and, in fact, will become virtually invisible.
In the workplace or socially, or even at home, it is absolutely essential to know your strengths and talents, as well as your personal accomplishments and be able to talk about them appropriately.
Nancy Ancowitz, a self-proclaimed introvert, has written a how-to book for people who need to learn to tell their story. Titled "Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead," Ancowitz lays out a program to help even the most shy and retiring introvert find his or her voice and receive deserved recognition.
"Self promotion is a skill and anyone can learn it," Ancowitz asserts.
Here are Ancowitz's quick tips for jump-starting visibility from the book's introduction:
• Balance the time you spend doing with the time you spend thinking or talking abut what you're doing.
• Take stock of what you do well by writing down your accomplishments and putting them in an "attagirl" or "attaboy" file. Also, include in the file congratulatory e-mails, testimonials and glowing performance reviews you receive.
• Practice articulating your accomplishments and then run them by a trusted senior colleague, mentor or coach for feedback.
• Get on the agenda for meetings to build a platform for your ideas.
• After meetings, write follow-up e-mails to confirm your points and contributions as well as to acknowledge those of others.
• Stay in touch with colleagues, managers and clients throughout your career. Let them know your comings and goings, and inquire about and celebrate theirs.
• If you're a sociable introvert - at least, in doses - host and even speak at meetings, conferences and social events to boost your credibility and visibility.
Ancowitz's book is an easy read, with humor and interesting real-world examples. Her advice starts with you where you are, and she never implies you should change your essential nature.
While I am mostly an extrovert (despite my mother's early teachings), I found this book to be very helpful, full of practical ideas to implement today.
The book is primarily focused on those in the workplace who are looking to improve their positions or for those looking for jobs. But feeling good about yourself and knowing your value are also excellent skills socially and with family. Even in these situations, if you allow others to put you down and denigrate your skills, talents and contributions, your "reward" will probably be more of the same bad treatment.
I would say this is a book not just for introverts, but for all who feel they don't get the proper respect in one or more situations.
It was my pleasure to interview Nancy Ancowitz in a recent podcast featured at librarybeat.org/longshots (#212). Enjoy and don't hide your light under a bushel.