Stop Waiting to Be Promoted or Accepted: Promote Yourself
One of the many issues I had with the corporate America and enterprise environments was an employee's promotion or recognition often came at the mercy of ineffective managers who had little to no people nor talent development skills.
Unfortunately this means your efforts as a team player, self initiator, problem solver or process improver could go unnoticed as it relates to your career. Basically your voice was mute unless someone else saw value as it relates to their agenda and their experience (or lack of) instead of your direct contribution.
If you are an eventual entrepreneur priming yourself to startup, do not convince yourself it will be any different as a full-time dedicated entrepreneur. Instead you will need to create a platform of your own making to ensure your voice is heard and not dumbed down to fit a square peg into a round hole. When others do not understand your perspective in its authentic state, you will need to change your posture and advocate for yourself. Don't wait for others to tell you when you are good enough for their platform, their blog or their event. Don't wait for the most popular web publications to say yes to your pitch that's among thousands of others they have received that day. Strategically build your own brand the right way and connect with like valued individuals intentionally. Soon the notice and opportunities you are warranted will come because you created the space for them.
If ideation is your strength as it is mine, it is not meant for others to "get" you and share their platform for every musing you have. That's your responsibility and you can't shirk it. It is meant for you to create the platform and join the conversation in your YOUnique way. Oprah was too big of a personality for Mississippi, Chicago, Nashville and eventually CBS as a whole. You're not Oprah so don't try to make her story and her journey your own now that you see how it played out for her. She took major risks that others told her she should not. She was advised by many to keep playing it safe behind another's brand, as an employee. People thought Oprah was crazy for turning down a new multi-million dollar contract to OWN after her amazing success and influence. Oprah saw long before her contract was up with CBS that her voice could be used and distorted on someone else's platform whose primary concern was ratings, not Oprah's beliefs or values.
What if just like Oprah YOUR vision and voice is too big for the platform you are pursuing even though you look like a newbie? You won't know if this is the case unless you construct the opportunity to find out. Instead of getting caught up in another person's wonderful platform, begin to devise your own special place in this big world. Sometimes you will be able to achieve this through collaboration, promotion or recognition however many times you will have to carve out your own space to have your voice and perspective heard. It's what I had to do for this post.
I was so proud of my breakout post and finally being able to tell my story. As I used to do in the beginning of my last stint in corporate America, I followed the rules and played their game. I looked for what I believed to be the right blog that catered to my ideal village or client that was looking for startup or personal stories like my own. I made sure the word count was as requested, checked for spelling and grammar errors and ensured my article was not saturated with self promoting links and subscriber offers. I pitched my breakout 'introduction to the world' post to HuffPO, XONecole and a few other blogs and guess what....crickets. There were NO takers. I knew each blog stated it may take a while to hear back from them, if you hear back at all but dang. My little feelings were hurt...at first but not for long. Maybe they were really busy. Maybe they didn't like my candid conversational writing style. Maybe I wasn't thinking big enough.
I sat down with myself and said "self...what is we gon' do" (in my Cedric the Entertainer voice). My brilliant strategy did not go as planned. Interestingly enough it was myself that reminded me (oh this is getting confusing) I was not one to wait for someone else to validate me. As well why would I give my breakout introduction post to some other blog when I had already begun to show up for myself by being visible in the startup community? I needed a platform of my own. It didn't make sense for me to go that route when I had many of the right pieces of the puzzle in place. For one who constantly reminds others you have to advocate for yourself, I wasn't taking my own great advice. When others see a "no" I see a "how".
Whether you remain at a job or you have begun to take steps to become an entrepreneur, you must always advocate for yourself above all else. No one is going to do it for you or go as hard for you as you will for yourself. No one is going to save you, nor should they. You must save yourself. When you see a door is closed to your ideal situation there is a reason for it. It's likely not as ideal as you think. Timing is everything. Do some deep thinking to consider whether your idea or content is the best fit for what you are pursuing at the time. With a little more consideration you may find there is a better platform, your own.
In trying to make my introduction startup story fit within another platform, it may have gotten compromised with additional edits or buried in the many other great stories. As I have been blogging off and on for four years now, I previously purchased my namesake domain and had every intention of using it to blog. There was no good reason for me to pursue submitting the post elsewhere. For this reason I'm glad I didn't have any takers and that I was courageous enough to promote myself telling my story,my way and on my terms without compromise or edits.
If you are an eventual entrepreneur who still has a job as a side hustle continue to be a good team player, offer suggestions and ideas but don't be surprised or discouraged if the individual development plan you are working at your job does not translate into a promotion. It's okay. You may find as I did that your greatest contribution was not meant to happen as an employee. Understanding this I knew a promotion would not forthcoming and I stopped seeking them. Instead I found ways to promote myself.
There are many ways you can promote yourself to gain additional experience and contribute at a higher level before leaving your dead end job for good. Here are just a few:
- Use sites like Upwork and Fiverr to pursue gigs of your choosing to build relevant skills and experience. Be sure to do your due diligence.
- Connect with peers, advisors and mentors outside of your work team at your job to share your aspirations and volunteer for goal oriented projects.
- Volunteer for organizations you are a member of doing the work that you love to do. Be sure to get testimonials and references.
- Connect with startup entrepreneurs like myself to identify opportunities to collaborate or barter services.
There is no need to wait to be promoted. As long as you have a mouth piece, you can advocate, promote and create opportunities for yourself.