Be Your Own Best Professional Advocate

Jan 9, 2014 | Career Development

If you don’t proactively promote yourself and your professional abilities and accomplishments, who will?

As an admin, being your own biggest professional advocate is crucial in advancing and preserving your career … because if you don’t take the initiative, nobody will.

Advocating for yourself in a professional capacity shows that you have confidence and self-respect and that you’re committed to your career. However, there’s a fine line between being your own personal cheerleader and overdoing it. You have to demonstrate that you’re professionally engaged, and a valuable asset to current and potential colleagues, executives, and companies without being overly pitchy or coming across as conceited.

Like any skill, learning to be your own professional advocate takes some practice, especially since there are a lot of components that go into it. To help you get started, here are some of my personal recommendations I’ve found to be effective in being your own best professional advocate:

* Share your knowledge and information with others. Don’t be an information silo where information comes in, but never comes out again. Share what you know and are good at with those in your professional network via your blog, relevant social media sites (provided they’re professional), or simply by talking to them. Sharing your knowledge is a great way to promote yourself without even trying because you become known as an information and knowledge resource, and others will spread the word about your knowledge and expertise for you.

* Volunteer. Get involved in volunteer opportunities both in and outside the office. Engaging in extracurricular activities you don’t normally participate in, such as charity events or company-sponsored fundraisers, shows you’re engaged in your community, company, and profession. It’s a great way to do something good and put yourself out in the community. It also can help you expand your personal and professional network, build your resume, and potentially provide non-work-related samples to include in your professional portfolio.

* Create your professional portfolio. A professional portfolio is a compilation of professional materials – such as your resume, work samples, and other relevant information – that serves as concrete proof of your abilities as an admin and beyond. Creating a professional portfolio – in print or digital format – gives you all the ammunition you need to demonstrate your career accomplishments, goals, and professional skills and abilities, which is vital when looking for a new job, asking for a promotion, or going through a review. It’s your “secret” weapon in being your own professional advocate, and a must-have for any admin who is serious about his or her career!

* Join and become active in professional organizations. Professional association membership has a ton of value for admins. From expanding your network to building your resume to developing leadership skills, being a part of an association can give you a serious career boost and help you promote yourself to your peers. It also gives you an opportunity to share with your execs when you join a committee, take on a leadership role, or coordinate an event. Oftentimes, professional organizations will print your picture in the local paper when you take on a new role, or you may be quoted in conjunction with an event your organization has sponsored – both of these are great ways to shine some light on yourself professionally.

* Leverage your social media sites. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are great (and free!) avenues for promoting your professional accomplishments and building your personal brand. They give you an opportunity to share your insights, expertise, and professional accomplishments with a wide network of people, as well as connect with professional peers, mentors, and companies that can help you advance your career. Just make sure that the information you share on your social media pages is professional. If you would be embarrassed by your executive reading something, don’t post it!

* Create your own personal business cards. Showing up to any professionally oriented event without some way of representing yourself is a big mistake! After all, you never know who you’re going to meet, so you need to be prepared. Since you can’t lug your professional portfolio around with you, a personal business card is a great alternative. You can print your own or use an online printer to create your cards. Make sure to include your name, contact information – such as a phone number and email – on the front, as well as links to your professional e-portfolio, and social media sites on the backside. If you’re going to print your own cards, I recommend the Avery Two-Side Premium Clean Edge Business Cards # 5871(10 per sheet).

* Be prepared to “toot your own horn” at a moment’s notice. You should always be prepared to talk yourself up a bit in one-on-one situations, casual conversations with colleagues, and at review time. You don’t need to brag, but you should be able to give yourself a rave review without much effort. Also, make sure your resume and professional portfolio are current so you can show either one to someone on demand.

* Show a genuine interest in your executive’s and colleagues’ professional goals. If you want them to care about yours, you need to show an interest in theirs, too. Get to know their goals, strengths, and personality types, so you can share information with them when appropriate, support their success, and encourage them in the same way you’d like for them to support and recognize your own. It’s the golden rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you!

Becoming your own professional advocate takes some practice. And striking a balance between being confident and going overboard takes some strategic planning and thought. However, with some initiative and dedication to the cause, you can be your own biggest professional promoter … and reap the rewards that come with it!

This article first appeared in Executive Secretary Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website at www.executivesecretary.com to find out more or to get your 30% discount email lbrazier@executivesecretary.com and tell them we sent you.

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