Secrets to Getting Ahead: What Really Matters When You Want to Move Up

Presented by Robin Merle, CFRE, at AFP-NYC PhilanthroCon 2021

Having your value recognized by those who can move you up in your organization is key.  But when you think of self-promotion, does it make you uncomfortable as if you’d be bragging or humble-bragging and calling attention to yourself in a negative way?  Here are a few tips for making this happen without the cringe factor, starting with my best advice to keep in mind as you practice these tactics.

Best Advice:  Don’t assume that people around you recognize the role you play in success.  You have to tell people.  No one has your best interests at heart like you do. 

Tip: Reframe self-promotion to business promotion.  It’s about your impact on the organization.  Connect your work to the organization’s goals.  Example:  “I’m so proud of the foundation funds that are supporting our programs.  It makes me feel great that I could help make a difference like that.”

The thank-you promotion:  Thank your team for all they’ve done and include yourself in the teamwork:  Example: “I loved working with my team on the president’s event and thank each and every one of them for making this a success.”

The announcement-of-the-gift promotion:  “I’m so happy about this gift.  I really enjoyed doing the research on this prospect.  Thank you for using the information to make this gift happen.”

The did-you-know self-promotion:  “I found this article about national enrollment trends, and I thought this might be helpful.”  Share it with the relevant group of people.

The organizational self-promotion:  If you have a town hall or other organizational meeting, announce an event or fundraising success.  You get visibility and you’re associated with Action and Success.

The ultimate self-promotion:  the performance review.  If you have one and it’s very formal, suggest that everyone do a self-evaluation first, or just do one for yourself.  Keep track of your accomplishments along the way (or look back at your calendar to remind you of your meetings and projects that were wins) so you can highlight them during the review.

And, my favorite, if you have the confidence:  the straight-up-recognize-my-value:  I wanted you to know how happy I am to close that gift that I and my team worked so hard on.  It’s going to transform our program and help so many people.”

When you connect your value to your organization’s business goals, you can’t go wrong.  And the more you say, switching up the way you say it, the more appreciated you will be. 

It feels good to be recognized and to be valued.  Hold on to that so you can keep putting yourself forward.  The bonus: you’ll begin to appreciate how much you really do make a difference, so you’ll gain the confidence to take on next-level goals and say Yes! when you’re offered a new role.

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