A primer on power: just with this module you'll be ahead of 90% of your peers.4
Social Skills - Advanced
Possibly the best overview of social skills and social strategies12
Social Power Dynamics
With this module you will fully understand how power applies to your everyday socialization12
Simply the best resource on frame control currently available6
Most information on becoming a true high-flyer career is standard plain vanilla advice . Not that it's not valid, but it's only half of the coin. This module will teach you the other half that nobody teaches.14
Women Winning at Work3
Dating & Seduction
I perused all the best dating books and courses, plus hundreds of psychology and evolutionary psycholody research, combined with years of personal experience. This module is probably the quickest way to truly learn how dating works.14
Dating & Seduction (Women)4
Relationship Power Dynamics
Mainstream relationship advice forgets that male-female relationships mask inherent conflicts, while "Red Pill" advice focusing on conflict leads to poor relationships. This module fills the gap with information and advice to help you structure real-life working relationship based12
All previous modules set the basis for this one, the ultimate stage of social empowerment: leadership6
Mastering Difficult Social Situations
When the going gets tough... You know the mantra. This module is dedicated to fringe social scenarios8
Strategic Self-Promotion For Career Advancement
Self-promotion at work includes any activity, time, and resources, that you devote to networking, promoting your work, and generally “getting your name out”.
Self-promotion takes time and effort. It must be tailored to the goal you need to reach, and take into account the publicity you are already getting.
So the common advice of “always self-promote” is incorrect, because the time you devote to self-promotion comes at the expense of actual work, free time, or skills development.
As for anything else, self-promotion must be strategic, and you want to maximize the ROI of your self-promotion and its efficiency.
This lesson helps you maximize your self-promotion efforts at work.
- Self-Promotion With Your Boss
- Creating Opportunities
- Strategic Self-Promotion
- The Rules of Self-Promotion
Self-Promotion With Your Boss
1. Romance your work
Being quick is good… In general.
But if you are too quick, then he might think the job was too easy and your results will also look less impressive.
You want your boss to think you are quick because you are good, not because the job happened to be easy.
The solution is to “romance” the process and sell it as part of your personal branding.
A good way of doing it is to use some storytelling and incorporate the difficulties you have overcome:
You: Boss, I am done with the job. The information wasn’t immediately available so I asked Brian from accounting. Some of the figures were missing, but fortunately I could secure a meeting with Cristina and piece together all the missing data -she’s wonderful by the way-.
Here is the final result..
Or, if you do something for him:
You: The IT department was backed up, but I’m happy to report that I convinced the them to repair your laptop ahead of several other requests.
Here it is.
I knew you would need it before you left on your trip.
1.2. Break up your achievements
Imagine you say the following:
You: The project is completed within budget and ahead of schedule
And your boss will think “very good”.
Now imagine you tell your boss the following:
You: Good morning boss. Tonight the application went live.
The project is completed ahead of schedule -one week in advance to be precise-.
Thanks to that reduction of head count I talked you about we also managed to finish within budget.
And we also met all quality requirements.
Now your boss thinks “schedule, check; budget, check; quality, check”. “wow!”.
Research confirms what intuition suggests: breaking up accomplishments make them seem more impressive as compared to lumping them up.
And if you are writing an email?
Write your accomplishments in bullet points, so they will further stand out.
And remember that the opposite is true: lumping up bad news to minimize their effect.
1.3. Put a positive spin on things
Here are some examples:
|Negative Spin||Positive Spin|
|“I could have done a better job of making sure we remained under budget.”||Although we didn’t come in under budget, we did complete the project ahead of schedule.|
|I didn’t manage to make it within budget||We finished on time, and almost within budget|
|I wish I had done a little more inquiry before making the final decision about that candidate.||Although he proved to be a bad match for the job, we learned now who we really want|
|“You’re right, I might not be the right person for the job—I don’t possess all the qualifications listed||“True, I might not have all the qualifications listed, but correct me if I’m wrong, experience doing this kind of work is what you’re looking for, and as we’ve seen, I have that in spade|
2. Don’t let him see you bleed
Effective self-promotion means showing how good you are… While hiding your fuck ups.
I remember my very first job, initially supporting a project manager before eventually taking that project over.
I had managed to send the wrong email with all the “important” heavy-hitters in CC.
The project manager was furious. He called me up and reamed me on the phone. That was the biggest scolding of my career. Actually, of my life.
But if you had seen me and heard the conversation just from my side, you would have thought that was the weirdest conversation ever. And, crucially, you would have never realized I had done what was happening.
This is how it went:
PM: (very angry) Think before you hit “send”, THINK! Are you able to THINK!
Me: (very calm) Yes, I think I am
PM: Who else was in CC, was it Andy in there too?
Me: (very calm) I think he was, yes
PM: (yelling) What the fuck were you thinking, ANDY was there, you sent ANDY the wrong report on MY project! Do you know who are they going to blame?
Me: (very calm) Well, I think me
PM: (yelling) No, because you’re a fucking junior who can’t do shit and they will blame ME!
Me: Hmmmm yeah, maybe you’re right
And so on.
You will notice there was no “I’m sorry” in there.
I just let him yell on the phone and just kept saying “yeah, yeah, you’re right… “.
When he was done yelling. I got up, picked up my mobile, and called the project manager back. I apologized profusely, told him how I was going to make amend… And also told him I wasn’t comfortable with his tone.
Why did I do that move?
Because the first call was on the desk phone and with my boss sitting nearby.
And my boss never got to know of my blunder.
My boss wasn’t directly involved with my work, and he strategically missed quite a few blunders of mine.
A few weeks later I ended that assignment with an “exceeds” in my evaluation.
Had my boss known of all my blunders or had he gotten from me the “non-romanced results”…. I don’t think I would have gotten an “exceeds”.
Moral of the story: a mistake that your boss hasn’t seen is a mistake that doesn’t exist.
2.2. Generalize failures, point finger at external circumstances
Imagine your boss or the program manager asks you the following:
“Why wasn’t the project delivered on time?”
If you are the project manager, or if you were taking care of it, then the natural tendency is to immediately explain what you did wrong.
But wait a second.
More than likely, there are plenty of reasons the project wasn’t completed on time that are not your fault. And that’s what you should answer.
You: Yes, it bothers me not to deliver on time as I always do. There are two main reasons why this time the project got delayed. First, Frank quit right when we needed him the most. And second…
After you have provided the extenuating circumstances, then feel free to show that you can also take responsibility.
You: And finally, sir, we come to me. I screwed it up when I trusted someone I shouldn’t have trusted that much. I am driven and ambitious and it bothers. But what’s been done is done. I have documented my lessons learned and will not repeat the same mistake again. From today on, I am better project manager, and you have a better man in your team.
People respect people who own their mistakes. Just put things in perspective first, and own the right amount of blame.
2. Make your work more visible
Marie McIntyre correctly says that if good work remains invisible, then it’s as if it never existed.
You probably know the time quadrant of effective management (important/urgent non-important/non-urgent).
Well, we can plot the same quadrant on importance and visibility.
Not Important – Not Visible
Your goal with non-important and invisible is just to make sure it won’t break and attract negative attention while you seek to move out of this quadrant ASAP.
Tasks in this category: data entry, document filing.
Not Important – Visible
Visibility means that you get lots of people’s interaction and/or your work gets lots of visibility from management.
This is a great opportunity to network and get your name around.
Build a name and reputation for someone who delivers, and then use the visibility to demand more challenging work.
Social skills and political acumen are key here so you can make the most of that visibility.
Jobs in this category include: secretaries, receptionists, project coordinators, support staff.
That’s why the tale of the “secretary” -often women- who moved up is not so uncommon after all. These are women who took advantage of their high visibility to branch out. Something that would have been much harder for, say, an assembly line worker who only gets to see his direct team supervisor.
Important – Not Visible
It’s not bad being here.
You can learn a lot, and you can find ways to make your work more visible.
Sometimes a good idea can be to look for interesting facts and figures in your tasks and make a report with it.
For example, if you’re in HR and handling complaints, you could record and group all the complaints and use it as a metric for employee morale in the different departments -just present the best ones at first so you don’t piss off the wrong people-.
Plus, as we’ve explained above, romanticize your work.
Jobs in this category: account management
Important – Visible
You’re in the right spot.
Now it’s time to deliver.
As we mentioned in career strategies, it can be a smart move to negotiate what you will get before you deliver. For example, if you are in sales, negotiate a percentage for each sales before you do the sales. If it’s recurring charges, negotiate a percentage of the charges until the customer stays with the company.
If you are restructuring a unit, negotiate a promotion if you turn it around.
Jobs in this category: sales, management consultants, turnaround specialists, private equity.
1. Elevator’s pitches
The elevator’s pitch is a quick introduction of yourself that you can deliver at a moment’s notice.
It should seem natural, but only because you rehearsed it plenty of times.
The pitch should say: what you’ve done so far, what you do now and, most importantly, where you want to go.
Add a couple of sentences of why your background or experience makes you a great fit for where you want to go.
If the person you just delivered the speech can help you, he might provide you with a career-changing opportunity. If not, that’s OK. You’ve just gotten your name around and effectively promoted yourself. At the very minimum, you just let a powerful player know that you’re a confident and ambitious player. Executive material.
1.2. Elevator’s ride hunting: creating chance encounters
And of course, smart players don’t leave chance encounters to chance.
When I want to meet a woman and make it seem natural, I carefully slow down, speed up, or “naturally” end up checking something right beside them.
One technique I sometimes use when I want to wait for the right occasion to strike, it to pick up the phone and pretend I’m talking to someone.
It’s much better than checking your phone or looking around, especially at work, because it makes you look like you got nothing to do. A call instead makes you look like someone who’s getting shit done (see next paragraph).
If you think this is too out there to work, think again.
I’ve mostly used it for dating, and I ended up meeting and successfully dating plenty of women by concocting the right time to meet.
Elevator’s rides are also figurative.
They don’t have to be “elevator rides”, and probably they aren’t going to be elevator rides.
They can be entering the building at the same time, sitting nearby at a cafe, or going to the kitchen when you’re staying late at 9pm (such an easy power move to pull, you should stay late just for this chance sometimes).
In one of the career books I read, one guy was always in the know because he went to the urinal when upper management went to the urinal. To make it natural, he’d always drink a lot of water so that he actually peed (and that’s healthy, too).
2. Kitchenette power moves
Do you know when you meet a superior or some high flyer, in the kitchen or at the water cooler and they ask you “what’s up”?
And everyone replies “all good, and how are you”?
Well, right there and then people waste a great opportunity to shine.
Instead, from now on, prepare your little “shine pitch”:
Boss: Hey, how are things
You: Things are going great, thank you!
I’m very excited on the progress on XYZ project you approved. It’s going better than expected and we may bring in X revenue (/cost savings) for the company.
That would be a huge win.
Then if they show interest, ask for their perspective.
You will burn yourself in their minds with extremely positive associations, and you look like an important guy who takes his work very seriously.
Upper management material.
The trick not to seem try-hard is to look and behave like you truly care.
If you make that your “baseline way of being”, then you’re good.
If you’re not working on anything exciting, it’s OK. Express happiness and excitement for the job, show you love the company and the big boss will love you.
PRO Tip: Do something attention-worthy & spend time in high-transit areas
The first time I spoke with the founder of the company I worked for I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, and he spoke me first with a joke and a big smile.
I wanted to brush my teeth only after breakfast, so I’d brush my teeth every morning in the bathroom, and almost everyone would talkt to me first.
If you are shy, doing anything attention-worthy is the easiest way to strike up a conversation. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just making a tea in the kitchen, or unpacking a meal is enough. Plus, it gives you an excuse to spend more time in high-transit areas, which helps you network.
PRO Tip: Don’t stand in at the water cooler queue!
People who stand in a queue at the water cooler or coffee machine look like they got nothing important to do.
Managers don’t like that behavior, and owners think that you’re wasting time on their dime.
Go when someone important goes, or go when nobody is there.
If You’re Junior, Take Chance Encounters Seriously
It’s easy to discount these informal encounters as “insignificant”.
But if you are in a low-visibility position, the only way the higher-ups will form an opinion of you is based on chance encounters, presentations, and what other higher-ups say of you.
Chance encounters form 1/3 of the higher-ups’ impression of you. And far more if you give little presentations or are not yet known to other higher-ups.
1. Let them hear you shine
On top of using the phone to wait for the right moment to strike, I sometimes also do it to get some attention.
Speaking Italian plus some gesticulation always helps with the ladies.
But you can do something similar at work as well.
When you see from afar a higher up who’s passing by, for example. Instead of letting him see you smoke or loiter outside the building, pick up the phone and pretend you’re doing business. You can also use the occasion for some indirect flattery:
You on the phone: John, please. You know us, StanleyCooper has the great reputation it has because we uphold our values dayin, day out. The competition might do OK work, but I don’t do OK work. I am only happy when I wow my customers.
Just make sure you put your phone on mute: you’d hate it if it rang while you played your game :).
If you think this is also too out there to work, again, think again.
One of the reasons my brother in arms had such a stellar reputation for selling is that he’d always make such a big show of selling on the phone from his desk, or on his way to a booth. The show accounted probably for 60% of his legend.
I remember him once with his typical loud voice, saying to a customer: “thank you, but it’s not that I’m a great salesman, it’s not about me, we are a great company with a great product, tell me what rate you’re paying, and I’ll beat it. Just tell me.. “.
The whole office stopped to listen. Some laughed, some hang on to learn more. But they all thought he was the best sales guy around.
And did you notice the power move?
On top of making a big sales show, he also said “it’s not that I’m a great salesman”, thus letting everyone know that a prospect had told him on the phone that he was a great salesman.
This guy had people pestering him to let them sit with him when he’d make sales calls. In large part because he used his phone to make a show.
2. Leverage storytelling for self-promotion
When you blurt out a good idea without any build-up, you are selling your genius short.
Just look at the difference between these two approaches:
Old You: We could automate the flow with Zapier, my former company did it
New You: Alright guys, I have been hearing you all and what you say makes a lot of sense. And I have come to this idea, hear me out.
What if instead of looking for someone to take over this role, we could get it done, without anyone doing it. Imagine a complete automation of reporting, no time wasted anymore, no more human errors.
Here is how it works..
Now everyone will listen.
And everyone will remember it was you the one with the solution.
Note for Women: Avoid Deflecting Praise
Praises bump people up a notch in the hierarchy.
That will make women schooled in “power dead even” culture uncomfortable, and she will knock herself back down by deflecting the praise or minimizing.
For example: “It was nothing,” “Mark did all the work,” or “It didn’t take all that much work.”
Or they might change the subject right away, for example: “well, you did a great job on your project too!”
While sharing credit can be good, and it can even the best thing to do in certain situations, women need to be careful not to overdo it.
Especially to men, this might look like poor self-esteem -and no executive material-.
A better way to extend praise is to give credit, while taking some of that credit for yourself, too.
You: Thank you. The team did a great job, too. The data was much more difficult to analyze than expected, but they pulled a couple of all nighters. And yes, I’m glad it turned out so well.
3. Go to the whiteboard to share a strong idea
Research shows that the whiteboard gives people a feeling you “own” the idea, and it increases engagement and retention of your words.
When you feel you got a genius idea, or when your point needs some explanation or some drawing, grab the opportunity to go to the whiteboard.
Even if your idea is not accepted, you still score leadership points for the courage of speaking up in front of an audience.
As a side note, if you use PowerPoint for presentations, avoid looking at the slides: you lose people’s attention.
4. Be the first to applaud (& ask questions)
This is a tip from Leil Lowndes.
And I have tested its effectiveness more than once.
Years ago I was in a fintech incubator in Berlin.
Great learning experience.
Back then the son of a rich German businessman bought shares and joined as one of the founders -he wasn’t a real founder, Joe Pesci would say that he “bought his button”-.
Well, I was staying over for the evening for the pizza night and hearing some speeches about strategy and finance.
One of the speeches was from this founder.
As usual, a minority of people listen to the speeches -these are the ones who’ll make a good career-, the others are there to eat, drink, talk and shoot the breeze -these are the ones who either stay stationary or who are going to their own thing-.
I knew my future wasn’t there, so I wasn’t playing the political game. I was instead sitting with a cute girl talking about life and, of course, dating.
Well, all of a sudden, this new founder came over all hyped and excited and asked us: “so, I was it?”.
Both of us were lost, thinking “what the heck is he talking about?”
After a few micro-seconds of incredulity it dawned on me: this guy was so clueless that not only he hadn’t realized we didn’t care about the speeches, but he didn’t realize that openly looking for encouragement and compliments on his speech made him look insecure and juvenile.
So I fumbled that his speech was awesome.
“Yeah?”, he asked. “Yeah man, you’re a great speaker, everyone was listening to you raptly”. He closed both his fists in sign of victory, and left.
Now, because this guy was junior and inexperienced, he made it too obvious that he craved support and approval.
But even the most seasoned execs are the same -if not more-: they are always looking for applause and support.
So when the big guys in your company are giving a presentation:
– Always sit in front.
– Make questions that make them look good
– Make sure you are the first to applaud
– When they’re done, go talk to them and compliment on such an inspirational speech
– Ask a couple of questions about whatever they talked about
4. Have someone else sing your praises
This might be the simplest, most effective, and classiest way to promote.
On average, the more you establish friendships, the more people will naturally say good things about you -another reason to mix power and warmth together-.
But those who will sing your praise the hardest are your mentors/sponsors, allies, and brothers in arms.
I remember years ago I was at the launch party of a well-funded startup, and one of the founders introduced me to one of his friends as “Lucio, he’s really good in sales, but really good”.
I had to smile within myself: maybe he was right, but how did he even know? I had never worked with him, and never been too close to him, either. But obviously my network -and very possibly my brother in arms- had done some good promotion for me.
5. Have a plan for home office
If you don’t care about advancing, home office is OK.
If you are going for acquiring power and income through top-notch technical skills and/or knowledge, then you can allow to work remotely because your leverage is based on skills and output, not on people and political savvy.
But if you are going for the leadership track, then you need to spend time in the office and/or interfacing with the higher-ups.
Home office can be a major hurdle for career advancement.
Peggy Klaus in her book “Brag” calls the political fallout of too much home office the “out of sight, out of mind syndrome”.
It’s difficult to advance when you’re out of sight because the leadership track is a people’s business.
Too much time away from office might even call into question your loyalty and personal drive.
However, there are ways to limit your political damage.
This is what Peggy recommends for home office workers:
1. Arrange a designated time each week to talk with your boss, make sure you drop all the good news here, romanticizing your work as per above guidelines. The talk isn’t just to show what you’ve done, but also to the relationship alive and to stay “top of the boss’ mind”
2. Check in with colleagues by phone: not only to let them know what you’re up to, but also to find out what’s going on in the office
3. Pick the top 3 most influential people for your career and meet them at least once a month: for example, for lunch
4. Attend corporate functions: one of my biggest political mistakes has been to stubbornly refuse to even give a single weekend away for what I deemed as a BS time-wasting retreat
5. CC your boss strategically: to remain top of mind, you might CC your boss just a little bit more often than you would od in the office. Every email that pops up in his inbox it’s like a reminder that you exist, and that you are getting stuff done from home. Don’t overdo it, though
6. Conform to Your Boss
If too little self-promotion can easily harm you, too much self-promotion will most likely irk a low key-boss.
That’s why it’s crucial that you adapt to your boss when it comes to the type and quantity of self-promotion.
Says organizational expert Kelley Reardon:
This is where political savvy comes in. As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do. If your boss doesn’t overtly self-promote, you shouldn’t either.
This is one of the mistakes I had done with my first mentor.
He was extremely low-key, and I came across as “too much”. When he saw me as too cocky, not only he didn’t help in, but he slipped in the “cocky” comment that sank my chance at winning the reward assignment.
7. More tips
– Do attend company’s parties: not attending sends the message you don’t feel like you belong, or that you’re looking to leave
– Do go for after-hours, especially if the management or your boss will be there
– Get into the company’s newsletter: make friends with PR / comms, and do get into the company’s newsletter whenever you can
– Post news and wins on Linkedin, and tag your company
– Always like the updates of your boss / founders and share them
– Approach powerful people with something you have in common: research the attendees of the networking events, look up their background, and go talk to them mentioning some commonalities
-If your boss asks you to do something you don’t have time for, ask back what he would prefer you’d drop: this is much better than saying “no”, or “I’m too busy”, which frames you as a potential slacker or as refusing his authority. Instead, show him how much you’ve got on your place and ask what he would prefer you should drop or de-prioritize. This way, you give him power back and frame yourself as a busy contributor who’s bringing a lot of value (learned from Deborah Kolp).
The Rules of Self-Promotion
Here are the best self-promotion strategies, depending on where you’re at, and what you’re working on.
High Visibility Work: De-Prioritize Self-Promotion
The logic here is simple: if your work is highly visible, then it makes more sense to spend comparatively less on promotion, since the work is already visible, and more time on work, since the results will matter a lot.
If your work, by its very nature, is very visible and puts you in touch with the people who can change your career, then the quality of your work is important.
That’s going to be the foundation upon which your self-promotion is based.
The best of all world is high-visibility work, coupled with someone else promoting you.
In those cases, you can even self-efface. As a matter of fact, when you overdeliver and someone else is singing your praises, you can use the occasion to self-efface and share credit. And you will look like a dream leader.
Examples of high-visibility work
Any time you are heading a strategic project, a turnaround, brokering a big deal, onboarding the first or biggest customer, or anything that has a big impact on the bottom line or the future of the company, you are on a high visibility project.
A high visibility project doesn’t necessarily have to be huge. For example, if you’re working on a pet-peeve of a powerful individual who can change the course of your career, that’s a high visibility work.
Lean or restructuring projects started right after management change are also high-visibility projects that present huge opportunities for whoever leads them.
The new management wants to see change -possibly reshuffling, too-, and leading that change will put you in contact with the brand new management. That’s the best opportunity of them all. Get into those projects, even if you can’t lead them. Just the exposure you’ll get can be a boon to your career.
Handling emergencies and working around crisis also always have high-visibility, and can be great opportunities for rapid career advancement.
Example of taking advantage of high-visibility to look like a silent killer
When I joined the talent graduate programme in DHL, there was a guy a couple of batches prior who was assigned as my buddy for the first 6 months.
He had a stellar reputation in the company.
When I asked him how he did, he said:
Keep your mouth shut and get your work done. When your boss will see completed projects coming from you left and right, he’ll be wowed.
Well, the reason it worked for him was that he was in project management, and his boss had to sign off on any project that was accomplished within his team.
He was aware of all the bigger projects people were working on, but not on what this new guy was doing.
In his first 6 months, he managed to deliver 4 or 5 small projects (sunsetting applications), without ever asking anything to his boss.
But when the project ended up on his desk to be signed, the boss thought “this guy learns by himself, saves my time, and puts numbers on the board. He’s a genius. And he doesn’t even show off!”.
As you can see from this example, when the results of your work are visible, you can allow yourself to scale down on self-promotion, and you can get a reputation for someone who delivers like a silent killer.
The reverse of the rule: Donald Trump
Here is a guy with a high visibility job.
The economy was growing, the stockmarket was booming… He could have taken a mild approach to self-promotion, given credit around, congratulated America… And let the results and his team do the talking for him.
He could have become known as the president of restored prosperity, making good on his promise to “make America great again”.
Instead, he never let up on self-promotion, and he never stopped fighting the press for more promotion.
Given that as a president he should take care of the people instead of self-promoting, Trump reeked of narcissism and poor leadership.
His handling of Coronavirus was poor for the same reason. He focused on the promotional side instead of the containment work. He tried to downplay it until it blew on his face, and he got a reputation for going for the marketing, instead of saving lives.
Here is an example:
Trump failed leadership was due, in large part, to a focus on “me self-promotion” in a high-visibility job that needed a focus on work and “us leadership”
Low-Visibility Work: Prioritize Self-Promotion
If your tasks have little visibility within the company, to your boss and/or to upper management, then you need to amp your self-promotion.
The logic, again, is straightforward: low-visibility work is not going to get you noticed and it’s not going to help you network.
So you have to put in extra effort to notice and self-promote. Enter the romancing your work, “kitchenette moments”, elevator power moves, strategic networking, after-hours cocktails, etc. etc.
Low-visibility work is especially harmful if upper management and your boss don’t even know what you’re doing.
Unless you take care of self-promotion, when promotion time comes your name is never going to be on the list, no matter how long you stay in the company. And when you need to discuss a raise, you will have to walk in your boss’s office while he’s thinking “payrise for what, what does he even do?”.
Examples of low visibility work
Hands-on jobs like server management, IT infrastructures in non-IT companies, assembly lines.
Work without end results or deliverables, and any work that does not directly help your manager or team.
Also be careful of assignments in remote locations, far away from HQ. Unless you’re in some special turnaround projects, you lose all visibility and will have no chance to network.
Self-Promotion for Career Level
The effort you put on self-promotion also change depending on career stages.
See this table for an overview:
Managers need the most self-promotion, CEO the least
Individual Contributor: Focus on Work
Individual contributors are often promoted based on technical skills, so it makes sense to focus mostly on learning and acquiring skills.
Individuals contributors also tend to be quite close to their direct managers, which helps their case when it comes to visibility.
Manager: Focus on Promotion
Research has shown clearly that those who get promoted the most among managers are not the ones that spend a lot of time with their team, but those who spend more time networking outside their teams.
After all, if you think about it, it makes sense: those beneath you can do little to take you upwards. Those around you and, even more, those above you, will take you up.
From a purely cynical point of view, it works best for managers to have their teams maximize their output while the spend the least amount of time possible with them.
Exec: Focus on Work, Promote With The CEO
The exec can spend relatively less time on self-promotion because he only has one person to promote to: the CEO.
Sure, you still want to look good to those beneath you. But you will have enough scheduled presentations that you don’t need to go out of your way to promote beneath.
From a work point of view, focus on whatever makes your department’s bottom line look good to the CEO, and to the investors.
CEO: Focus on Results, Manage PR to Do Your Self-Promotion
The work of a CEO when it comes to self-promotion is quite different than what you do at any other level.
You have a PR team doing PR for your business, and a good chunk of your self-promotion work is not so much to look good to those around you, but it’s about managing your public image outside of the firm.
Most people in the industry will get to know you without you having to schedule time for networking. And when it comes to self-promotion, your business’ numbers and results will do most of the talking.
Steve Jobs didn’t become legendary because he self-promoted. He became legendary because everyone was buying iPhones.
Newspapers will write about excellent CEOs in either case: whether your company is doing great, or if it’s doing terribly.
You can take Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, or Adam Neuman, the founder of WeWork as examples.
When people believed their companies were doing great, the press was kissing the ground they walked on. When the problems of their companies started to become more and more apparent, they went from Gods, to villains -even though they actually increased the amount of time they spent worrying about self-promotion.
The most Machiavellian approach to self-promotion for a CEO is to orchestrate his self-promotion through others, while he poses as a humble, generous, and magnanimous man who does not seek the spotlight.