Give Yourself a Promotion!
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Give Yourself a Promotion!

Want to move up in your career, but hate to toot your own horn? Here are 10 great no-brag strategies for getting ahead.

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1. Get It in Writing

If a senior staffer pays you a compliment, ask her if she would write a note to your boss describing your success. Jocelyn Greenky Herz, coauthor with Marcelle DiFalco of The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work (Fireside, 2005), says this is easier than you might think. "Just tell them how much you appreciate their kind words and ask if it they wouldn't mind jotting down a note for your annual review file." Kimberly Mitchell, 32, from Philadelphia, has a strategy that's even easier: "I just forward e-mails with positive feedback to my boss and to the client with a note that says 'FYI.'"

2. Build Your Name Recognition

Get your name in the company newsletter by telling the editor about the new initiative you're spearheading. If you find yourself in the elevator with the company president, introduce yourself and tell him how excited you are about the marketing project you're working on. Done selectively -- don't drone on at every meeting or glad-hand every single VP -- you'll gradually be able to infiltrate your higher-up's consciousness. "Three months later, when the boss is given a list of 30 people who could be on the new marketing team, he'll see your name and think, 'Hey, I know her!'" says Gail Evans, author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman (Broadway, 2001).

3. Praise Up

Say nice things about the boss to everyone. "Always, always, always," says Herz. "It will get back to her. And if you say one negative thing [about her] to someone in Topeka, that will get back, too."

4. Be Excited, Not Busy

Many people try to up their image at work by talking about how busy they are. But that never works. "People who never shut up about how busy they are setting themselves up -- because they're wasting time talking about it," says Evans. "What people really hear is, she can't handle her workload." Suzy Allegra, 55, from Phoenix, says that when people ask her how things are going, she always tells people how thrilled she is about an upcoming project. "What I say is simply, 'I'm so excited...' and then tell people about my art show, my rave reviews on the speaking gig I had, or whatever.... I'm not bragging, I'm excited about what's just happened, or is about to happen," she says.

5. Focus on Giving -- Not Getting

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, 35, an American living in Paunzhausen, Germany, recalls the time she was meeting with a radio producer with an idea she had for a show. "At the end of the conversation, he said, 'Everyone always wants something from me.' I looked him in the eye and said, 'I don't want anything from you. I want to give you something.' He appeared taken aback, as if he had never heard someone with that attitude. If you present yourself or your idea as part of the solution, no one will think you are bragging. They will be grateful for your credibility as a resource that shows up just when you need it the most."

6. Pump Up Your Colleagues

Most people think that self-promotion is about grabbing credit. Actually, lauding your coworkers for their hard work and brilliant ideas is far more effective. "The more credit you give, the better it reflects on you," says Evans. For a manager, a well-placed compliment tells the boss that you hire great people and treat them well. For those who aren't supervisors, letting your superiors know you appreciate your talented, diligent coworkers projects maturity (not to mention talent and diligence) to the higher-ups. And your colleagues will appreciate it, too!

7. Buy Personalized Stationery

Senior managers usually get this perk. If you don't, buy some for yourself. "Spend the $50 at the stationery store," says Herz. "You want to put your name on every single piece of paper that crosses your desk so that people will know how much you're doing." This prevents others from stealing your ideas. It's also another way for the higher-ups to see your name -- and know just how much you're moving and shaking. Another trick: Put your name on the page numbers of all MS Word documents.

8. Foster Schmoozing Karma

We all know that effective schmoozing can help you rise through the ranks, but Evans says that most of us have no idea how to do it. "Networking is not about you -- it's about putting people together," says Evans. People clam up when they think they're being mined for contacts, but will move mountains for you if you hook them up with someone who can help their business.

9. Focus on the Feeling

If someone pays you a compliment, you could run around telling everyone how so-and-so thinks you're the queen bee. Or you tell them how great that pat on the back made you feel. "If I've gotten good feedback, I'll repeat it, saying, 'I have to tell you what made my day!' Then I repeat the compliment," says Sandra Beckwith, 50, from Fairport, New York. "It doesn't look like I'm bragging, and there's a bonus -- the good words about my work have more credibility when someone else says them."

10. Hang Out with the Positive People

Herz says that upbeat folks are more likely to move up in a company than grousers. So even if it's your natural tendency to be curmudgeonly, don't let that show at the office. Instead, lose the water-cooler complainers and seek out a more optimistic crowd. "If you're negative, hide it. If you're associated with the positive crowd, it will reflect well on you," says Herz.

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