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Editor's Agenda

Self-promotion isn’t sickening, it’s necessary

/ Dec 12, 2012 7:41AM / Print / ()

Self-promotion isn’t sickening, it’s necessary

Successful female entrepreneurs know something many of us don't: the value of their personal brand and the need to keep promoting it.

They talk about their achievements, as well as their failures. They blog, tweet, write books, speak at events, establish networking groups, make strong personal connections with others and pick up the phone to journalists.

They enter awards because they know that if they don't talk about their business nobody will, and that the only risk of filling out an awards application is the time spent doing so.

You can pick the entrepreneurial type at events, on social media and amongst those who make regular contributions to industry publications and sites like this because they're the ones putting themselves forward, and making the quick decisions without relying on approval from others. They take a strong personal interest in their own communications, rather than leaving it all to marketing teams and PR specialists, and therefore exhibit a high level of authenticity that would otherwise be lost. Sure, they make mistakes, but they also know how to take responsibility for them – and use their hardwired common sense to avoid anything too severe.

It's really no surprise that the entrepreneur category in our NAB Women's Agenda Leadership Awards has been our most popular, and that the nominations have been coming in thick and fast.

But it's a little disappointing that one particular category has nowhere near the number of nominations: our award for the Emerging Leader in the Private Sector.

We know there are so many brilliant women who would be excellent contenders for this award – and that below the surface of those we can name there are so many more. They're women who are working hard but never taking the time out to personally consider – or tell somebody else – exactly what they've achieved.

Is it that corporate culture has drummed into women that they can't stand up and take credit for their own success? Are corporates still spouting the ridiculous "no 'I' in team" mantra? Is it because women feel they must attribute any success to their staff, even if it's their leadership and direction that enabled the team to make it happen?

Is it because these women are so busy trying to prove themselves by working hard that they forget to put their head up and show that they've arrived?

Recently, Forbes Women ran a special on career lessons of its 100 Most Powerful Women. One of the key findings was to "put yourself out there" with examples that ranged from the extreme – Fawzia Koofi defying death threats from the Taliban in order to run for president of Afghanistan – to women in key leadership positions who got there due to their media profile and well-known accomplishments of their past. 

For these women, it didn't happen by "toiling away in a cubicle" and, as the Forbes authors found, it's never too early or too late to make an impact.

Putting yourself out there can be dangerous. Things may be written or said that don't go according to plan – or the time spent investing in yourself may not spur immediate results. You may even run the risk of appearing "shameless" in your self-promotion, but it's a risk well worth taking when you consider the alternative.

It's a humble thing to quietly get on with being brilliant, never caring for a moment if anybody else knows that you are – but sadly, such humility doesn't offer much of a boost up the corporate ladder.

So, emerging private sector leaders: take a hint from the entrepreneurs out there.

Step up, and let us know you've arrived. If you don't, who will?

Over the next few weeks we'll be offering more advice and tips on how to "put yourself out there", starting with Megan Dalla-Camina's piece today on social media.

Entries for the NAB Women's Agenda Leadership Awards close January 7.

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