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When Stephanie Matthews worked as a producer in broadcast news, promoting her expertise and accomplishments was something of a non-issue. Her TV shows, stories and writing were highly visible thanks to the nature of her work.
But after making a career change into public relations, she discovered a jarring new reality: She needed to step up and make her voice heard, own her ideas, and do personal PR.
“I had to learn how to speak for myself and become an advocate for myself and for my team,” says Stephanie, now executive vice president of integrated media and engagement at the PR agency Golin.
“It’s not enough to find your voice. You’ve also got to use your voice,” she says.
Stephanie, who has worked on public relations for household name brands, says establishing your voice as a new or aspiring leader requires bragging about yourself in a tactful way and calling attention to the great work that you’re doing.
Like most of us, Stephanie found that hard at first.
Here are four strategies she developed.
1. Don’t Wait For Your Annual Review
Stephanie started simply, scheduling weekly check-ins with her boss with the point of getting him up to speed on what was happening. The idea is to create a casual cadence for sharing accomplishments, rather than saving everything up for an annual performance review.
The idea is to create a casual cadence for sharing accomplishments, rather than saving everything up for an annual performance review.
2. Double Down On Wins
A constructive way to show what you know is to take what you worked on in one area and reproduce those best practices in another area, says Stephanie. The bigger the business impact, the better.
“Being able to tie accomplishments to bottom-line growth is an easy way to brag about yourself — without seeming boastful,” she says.
3. Know What Differentiates You
“My passion is the intersection of social media and news media,” says Stephanie. “That’s where I thrive. I’m a news junkie and obsessed with the way we’re getting our news.”
Identifying your passion, deepening your knowledge in that area and pouncing on opportunities to share your expertise put you well on your way to becoming a sought-after voice of authority in your industry.
Says Stephanie, “Understanding what differentiates you is a key to unlocking new opportunities both internally and externally.”
4. Connect, And Share Your Expertise
Stephanie’s specialization in integrated media made her a global resource across her agency, which in turn connected her to teams with different, and often complementary, areas of expertise she would not have otherwise met.
“Being exposed to other peoples’ smart ideas is the biggest benefit you’ll receive from using your voice,” says Stephanie.
So if you want to grow your influence and be a leader who makes an impact, let alone get credit for your track record and get people to see your potential, don’t just find your voice.
Use your voice.
Adapted from "Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive" (McGraw-Hill, 2019) by Jo Miller, CEO of Be Leaderly; @jo_miller.