Published July 02, 2023
Our daughter once said, “If you’ve done it, it is not bragging.” That's very true when advocating for yourself at work. But self-advocacy is not natural for most people. Tooting your own horn is uncomfortable for most people because we have been taught to play nice in the sandbox. But when you are looking at career advancement, these qualities can play against you. According to NetWerkMovement, “Self-advocacy is about showing up for yourself.”
So what is self-advocacy? It is standing up for yourself, promoting your ideas and demanding your worth. It means speaking up and promoting your best interests. It’s about being your best ally.
How do you go about advocating for yourself, especially if you are a woman in the workplace? Globally women only hold 31% of senior management positions globally, according to NetWerk Movement.
Know your strengths. Do a self-assessment analysis. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses? Know what they are, play to your strengths, promote them and take actions to shore up the weaknesses.
Know the value you bring to your organization. Along with a skills assessment look at what you personally
contribute to your organization that others do not. It might be leadership. It might be a solutions-based approach to interpersonal relations. It might be a unique understanding of your customer base and how to convert believers into fanatics.
Be visible. Sometimes doing the right thing at the right time is not enough. You have to have an influencer see it, notice it or be aware of the action. Take on highly visible projects, share your knowledge with other team members or report on the results of a project so you are noticed as the core driver of the results.
Find a champion. Identify and cultivate an influencer in your organization who will advocate for your great work when you aren’t in the room so that others see your value to the organization through someone other than you.
Positivity. Believe that you deserve to be noticed and advanced for your ability to move the organization forward. It all begins with a mindset of positivity. If you are convinced you are worthy of recognition then others will believe it too.
Ask for what you want. In sales, it is often said if you don’t ask for the order, you don’t get it. If you don’t ask for what you believe you deserve you won’t get that either and you need to be shameless about it. And, it might take more than one request to capture the decisionmaker’s attention. Be strategic about when you ask and what you ask for. Don’t give up.
Seek feedback and track your successes.
You need to know your value in order to advocate for yourself. Set your objectives and track the results. NetWerk Movement suggests a “brag book” to help focus your accomplishments. A brag book is a journal that helps you keep track of your results, compliments and achievements.
Become a knowledge leader. When you are the go-to person in your organization due to having and displaying expertise in a specific area, then you are advocating for yourself every time a situation arises where you can provide a solution to a problem. This requires branding yourself as the resident expert in whatever specialty you have chosen. Make sure other team members are aware of your expertise.
To become a knowledge leader one needs to be a lifelong learner by engaging in professional development every day. When you are up-to-date on industry trends and potential strategies and tactics that can be employed, you are showing your commitment beyond the expected. Your personal credibility is enhanced by learning something new every day.
Be honest in your communications. You can only build your credibility by being honest and forthright in your communications. When asked for your opinion on a subject, build your personal credibility by being honest.
Lastly, seek feedback. When building your personal brand, getting feedback from others is an important ingredient since we don’t always see the positives and negatives in our personal interactions and decorum. Then, build upon the feedback to make improvements one step at a time.
Advocating for yourself is a skill that needs to be developed by everyone who wants more from their work experience rather than leaving their career to chance. Self-advocacy is not self-promotion. It is a way to position yourself to create positive relationships and become a contributing member of your organization.
Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor, SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. www.score.org/capecod, capecodscore@ scorevolunteer.org, 508-775--4884. Source: Leslie G. Cohen, COO, Davis Companies, 10 Powerful Self-Advocacy Examples for the Workplace, NetWerk Movement