on the subject of self promotion


winter grime

Time for a little introspection, let's look through the window into my soul.

Every so often I will dole out advice to people who are looking to further their careers. I used to be an employment counselor and I think I give some pretty sound advice. I ask people questions about their skills and try to find ways to encourage them to make connections and talk about their skills in ways that will want other people to hire them. Generally I take my own advice and apply it to my personal situation, but there are times when my mind is clouded with a little self-doubt. I become quiet rather than vocal. I hope that someone will notice me rather than having to put myself out there. But opportunity doesn't just fall from the sky, we have to pursue the things we want and sometimes we have to do so with a bit more force than we are naturally inclined.

My current job is a different position than I have ever worked in before. I have a lot of autonomy, but with that autonomy also comes a lack of stability. Once the terms of my contract are up I have no assurance that I will be able to continue with this position or this project. I'd really like to continue, because I think the projects I'm working on are fantastic. I can't rely on my hope that people will see the value in what I do (which I think they mostly do) and expect that some new position will materialize out of this hope. I have to ensure my own future. I sometimes wish that I didn't have this concern. I would love to have the support of a permanent position, but for a variety of reasons that's just not how things happened. Questions about what will happen next with my project and with my job press on my mind. The end of my contract may be months away, but I'm always thinking about it.

I tell people that the success of my work depends on making connections. These connections come from networking. Understand that that 'networking', in the traditional sense of the word, is not my natural inclination. I'm a little bit shy and sometimes find making conversation a bit difficult. Except when I'm talking about things that I'm really excited about. Which is why I don't mind talking to people about the work that I do now. But talking about the details of a project is not the same as self-promotion. There are very different ways I can talk about what I do. Most times I talk about the general awesomeness of the project, how it came to be and where it might lead. What I do or have done specifically to facilitate this project is not always the particular focus. I hope that some people are able to infer the connection between the two, but there are times when I think I should be more direct. However, I worry that this will be perceived as boasting or conceit. But I have my future to worry about. How come I can help other people to realize their talents and convince them they should let others who can assist them in furthering their careers know what they have to offer, but I can't always do the same for myself?

But just like others have come to me for a self-confidence boost in the past, I need a little boost from others every now and then. We don't need to feel guilty about letting others know about our skills, especially when those skills are meant to serve the greater good. Tonight the gentleman and I had a nice chat about this and I've been left feeling a bit more relaxed and about what I can do promote myself in positive ways.

I sometimes fluctuate between fierce independence and a desire to be coddled. But nothing good comes of being pampered. Real achievement comes from the things I do on my own with the encouragement of others. It's like when clients used to complain about not getting called for an interview. I would ask them if they had done anything besides submit a resume. Often times the answer was no. But how can you expect other people to know what you want if you don't tell them? No one can give you what you want unless you ask for it. I need to start asking for things.