Yes, there is a gender based difference in how men who self-promote are perceived and how women who say the same kind of things about themselves are perceived. But, that perception can ONLY change if women are courageous and speak well of their accomplishments without fear. A good rule of thumb is make sure you’re not talking about yourself to seek attention, and by sharing things that you find admirable in others and might compliment them on.
2. Choose to do things that are worthy of self-promotion.
Be courageous, take risks. By this I don't mean take on more tasks and be a workaholic, I mean be thoughtful in your choices. Spend your time wisely and with integrity. Volunteer for important projects. Help other team members. Work on committees, (You can choose to be on committees with important people.) Speak up at meetings with great ideas. Take the lead position on projects, suggest and spearhead innovations.
3. Learn to tell a short self-promotional story.
“Last week the most fantastic thing happened... “I had the best week this week……”, “I feel so great about something that happened this week...” and then tell about one specific success. Don’t preface it with how tired you are. Don’t list all you did, or how busy your week was. Tell one very brief story. A hero’s journey is interesting. A recap of your to do list or rundown of all the things on your outlook calendar is boring. If you have not read, "The Power of Myth" find it or at least read about it so you know what a hero's journey looks and sounds like. Make sure you include brag bites―pieces of relevant facts, such as clients that you’re working with, how long you’ve been in the industry, or a project you’ve recently completed.
4. Be very careful of your tone and nonverbal delivery.
Look at how men get excited and make the telling of their hero’s journey into a fun journey for the listener. Don’t be haughty and don’t hog too much time. Think how men share a sports success story, “I hit a home run, I caught the ball, I made a hole in one." People actually ENJOY listening because they feel the pleasure, excitement of the adventure and challenge along with the story teller. But remember, women have a narrower band of acceptable delivery options so you can't be over the top and again you must tell a shorter story than a man.
5. Send a thoughtful email to a specific person about your accomplishment.
Men will email what they have done to accomplish their projects and you can do it too. If you see a good example of someone stating an accomplishment in an email you receive model it. Don't send a group email listing your checked off to dos. If you are not sure how it sounds read it out loud or try it out on someone who can be brutally honest with you about how it sounds.
6. Make your work visible by spending time with people.
Talk to people who can recommend you. Take influential people out for coffee or lunch, stop by people’s offices and ask what they are up to. Spend productive time sharing and visiting in the break room.
7. Compliment and "brag on" other women.
When you focus on others accomplishments and notice what is worthy of praise your energy is focused in the right place and you learn what matters. One simple way to give praise is with an introduction. For example, when you introduce your female friends, coworkers and business friends to someone new share their name and an accomplishment. "Jim, this is Sara Beckman, she just headed up the committee for our new quarter sales meeting and it was fantastic." "Tom, this is Morgan Tyler, she just spearheaded the new marketing project." "Karl, this is Veronica Mann, she works with our top client Prudential."
8. Ask other woman to brag for you.
If you have established healthy, reciprocal, working relationships with other women it is perfectly acceptable to ask them to help you by giving a brag boost. You can even ask someone to share something specific with someone specific. But if you do this I advise that you always reciprocate. Be the person that says and shares positive things about others.
9. Be a good listener.
We like people who listen to us and often imbue them with good behaviors. If you want people to listen to you share your successes, be the best listener for them. It will not only make you more discriminating about what and how you self-promote but more importantly it is just gracious behavior.
For other ways to look good at work you can check out other articles.
Five Ways to Give a Great First Impression
Nonverbal Cues of a Good Listener
How Do We Know Someone is Credible within Seconds of Meeting Them?
On a personal note:
When I was in my late thirties I was at a party with my fiancé at the time and someone asked me what I did for a living. I said, "I am a body language expert and professional speaker."
Later my fiancé chastised me for saying I was a body language expert. I remember going through a cascade of different emotions and revelations in that moment.
First I felt shame at the thought that I could have been inappropriate and a braggart. But then I realized that was not what I should feel. I should feel proud of being an expert. Then a stronger emotion took over and I was angry at my fiancé for not seeing me for all I was. Then I felt disappointment in myself as I realized that he might not even know all that I had accomplished. I had never told him. But, I did manage to do with him, something I had not done well until that moment, brag. I said, “I have several degrees in nonverbal communication, I taught body language at two universities. My body language class at Florida State averaged 150 students each semester and was voted one of the most popular college courses in the country. I have been researching and consulting on the topic for many years. I have written a book on body language. And I have been speaking on the topic to the top companies around the world for many years. I am an expert!”
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.