Q: I am a fairly introverted person. It seems like to get ahead at my company you have to “toot your own horn”. This makes me uncomfortable. Do you have any advice?
“Tooting your own horn” works well if you have a beautiful “horn” and you are talented in “tooting.” There are those who do this quite well—with charisma, grace, and finesse. They know how to position themselves, and sell themselves to just about anyone. Then there are those without horns, who have not had much practice in the fine art of tooting. So what do you do if you’re not a horn tootin’ kind of guy or gal? Many “so called” experts would say that if you’re going to succeed that you have to learn to “speak up” and “stand out”—that you should get yourself a beautiful horn, and start practicing like crazy!
Well, I suppose you could do that… But, our advice would be different. Let’s face it. It is very difficult to become comfortable with something that you are very uncomfortable doing. If you’re an average “horn tooter” with much practice, you may become a pretty good “horn tooter.” If you’re a terrible “horn tooter” with much practice, you may get to being average at best.
All of us are different. We have different talents, different viewpoints, and different ways of approaching situations. The key is to figure out what you are predisposed to be naturally talented in, and to capitalize on that.
If you are fairly introverted, and you feel uncomfortable “tooting your own horn,” the place not to start is to figure out how to toot better. The place to start is with an assessment of what you do extremely well, and to keep taking this ability to another level. As someone who is more introverted, it’s not to try and become more extroverted.
If you want to get ahead, the key is to figure out how you can make a unique contribution to get the “company” ahead rather than getting “you” ahead. Getting ahead is not about you. It’s about advancing the company. When the company gets ahead, and you’ve played a critical part, then getting ahead happens because of your actions rather than your words.
Moving ahead isn’t about making clever maneuvers. It’s about building a career for the long term. Here’s what it takes:
(1). Get comfortable in your own skin by celebrating who you are.
(2). Figure out what will get the company ahead.
(3). Learn to articulate “your” story by highlighting how your differences are a tremendous asset.
(4). Articulate how your unique talent, viewpoint, and approach would be a significant advancement for the enterprise.
Join me again on the next entry as we unpack the four steps above.