As a managing editor, a lot of interesting books cross my desk from authors soliciting their work, hoping for a byline. Sometimes a little crowd gathers in my office around mail time. Like last week, when I received the title “Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office,” by Lois P. Frankel. The book caused a stir with a few coworkers who feel their niceness causes people to overlook them.
Boy do I understand! I look way younger and way sweeter than I actually am. How’s a nice girl supposed to get any respect? So I did the only natural thing you do in this situation: I started a “Nice Girls” book club. Each afternoon, we meet in my office for 10 minutes to share a chapter, talk about how to transform our “nice girl” image, and give each other some personal feedback.
What’s the opposite of a “nice girl,” you ask? If you’re thinking of a word that begins with a “w” and is followed by an itch, you’re half right. It’s a “winning woman.” A winning woman knows who she is, what she has to offer, and how to leverage her qualities. Last week, my book buddies and I took a quiz to assess our winning strengths and weaknesses. It came as no surprise that I scored lowest in marketing myself. I’ve always preferred listening. I was taught it is obnoxious to brag and that nice girls are sweet and quiet. So I’ve struggled to figure out the difference between bragging and confidently stating the facts about my value, skills, and accomplishments. I’m learning, but it’s uncomfortable. And on the really hard days, I will comfort myself with the knowledge that I scored highest on physical appearance/presentation: no one may know who I am, or what I am capable of, but at least I look fabulous!
Maybe you’re thinking but you write about yourself all the time! True. But can I tell you a secret? Even that is uncomfortable. Yet I believe God gave me a gift and a calling. I’m not really looking for a corner office. But I don’t want to hide my qualities either.
So what’s step one in becoming a winning woman? Frankel encourages knowing your personal brand. What do you do? What do you like about it? Why are you good at it? Start by listing two or three tasks you’re good at and why you enjoy them. Then weave your answers into an elevator pitch.
- I am good at listening; I enjoy learning about people and helping them meet their goals.
- I am good at writing; I like weaving facts into story form.
- I am good at meeting deadlines; I like having tangible goals with a beginning and end.
I work for a business education nonprofit where I manager 13 annual publications geared toward training the next generation of business leaders. I love learning about our members and writing stories about their accomplishments that encourage and inspire our 250,000+ readership. Meeting deadlines for this many publications is a challenge, but I love the feeling of a job done well . . . and on time!
The next time you’re at a party or networking sessions and someone asks “What do you do?”, tell them and market your skills. You never know who’s listening, or what opportunities they hold.
What about you? Do you have a hard time tooting your own horn? Why or why not?