An advocate can be defined as a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular policy or cause. Every single time that you advocate for others, you are an advocate. I spend a lot of time advocating for women and underrepresented minorities in the Tech space but learned that many women don’t feel comfortable advocating for themselves. This can be a huge roadblock, and it is a skill that helped me climb the ladder in my career, and I want to share some tips with you.
Self-advocacy is extremely important in several areas of your life, not only the workplace. In almost every talk, I share how important it is for us to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I mean it! Be comfortable highlighting your accomplishments and your skills as it will help you discover fantastic work and professional connections. It will feel awkward the first few times, but with practice, it becomes easier.
There is no way you can be recognized or even rewarded for your work if you are invisible!
If you don’t learn to self-advocate in the office, you might find yourself overlooked and underappreciated for sure. Many women in the workplace still face gender adversity, and by standing up for yourself, you help us all close the gender gap and foster a more balanced workplace.
Occasionally actions are enough to let people know what you stand for, but often it’s crucial to step out of your comfort zone and vocalize your achievements. Some of the benefits of being a self-advocate include the fact that it can fast-track your career, ensure your rights are not violated and decrease the stress from being silent. So, How do we do it? Here are five simple ways to advocate for yourself at work:
1. Flaunt Your Achievements
Be comfortable promoting your accomplishments on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Share your publications, podcast interviews, interviews, projects, awards, and include volunteering too. It is important to be comfortable with your success, but not to do it in order to gain admiration or make others feel inferior. Stick to the facts and do it in a modest way.
2. Know Your Worth
If you are getting ready to ask for a promotion, be also prepared to articulate the value you bring to the institution/company. It is imperative to keep track of your accomplishments. Write down a list of your strengths, contributions, completed projects, etc. You cannot force others to believe in your when you don’t believe in yourself, so start by believing that you deserve what you ask for ahead of time. Practicing self-love is equally important because we teach others how to treat us, so know your value and don’t accept being treated in a way less than you deserve.
3. Practice Your Pitch
One should never walk into a conversation unprepared. I do research ahead of any meeting on my calendar to ensure I understand the topic and how I can contribute. I am not asking you for hours online; a few minutes will do. Also, be prepared to share your elevator pitch with anyone to share your expertise and credentials effectively in 30-60 seconds. When done right, this short speech helps you build new networks, land a job, or connect with new colleagues.
4. Stop Worrying About Others Liking You
I’ve had many people tell me what they think I should do with this website, and I am thankful for their input, BUT I know why I started this blog, and my intentions are clear as water. I am not writing to please anyone in particular, and you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about others’ opinions. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, because you are not here to copy others’ work; you are here to be original and share your uniqueness with the world.
5. Be Your Most Authentic Self
As humans, we all want to matter, and this feeling pushes us to try to fit in to be seen. We don’t see that people respect you more when you are boldly yourself in front of others. Being authentic starts with knowing who you are and being in touch with yourself in the moment. Self-reflection at the end of each day through journaling, helps me stay in touch with myself. When you are living in your authenticity, you attract people who are also living authentically. These relationships help build you as an individual and push you towards becoming a more successful leader.
It is vital that you truly believe that you are capable of achieving your goals. Some of the tools I’ve used include visualization, positive affirmations, always keeping written lists of my strengths, saying yes to new challenges, and wearing clothes that make me feel comfortable and confident at the same time. You can also read my post on difficult conversations which directly relate to this.
In the end, remember that your life is a creative process, and there is no finish line and no defined outcome. You are not a failure; you are LEARNING and GROWING!
Today, I ask you to celebrate your success and allow us to celebrate it with you too. Start sharing it publicly!