Stephanie Matthews started her career as a producer in broadcast news. In those early days, promoting her expertise and accomplishments was something of a nonissue because her shows, stories, and writing were on tv—which meant her work was already highly visible.
Then, Stephanie made a career pivot into public relations where she met with an uncomfortable new reality. She was going to have to find new ways to make her voice heard, her ideas known, and call attention to the work that she and her team were doing.
“I had to learn how to speak for myself and become an advocate for myself and for my team,” says Stephanie, who is now executive vice president of integrated media and engagement at Golin, a PR agency.
Stephanie, who has worked on public relations campaigns for numerous household name brands is now an advocate for doing personal PR, too. She says finding your voice as a new or aspiring leader requires getting comfortable with bragging about yourself in a tactful way. (You can also grab my free cheat sheet of 33 Ways to Amplify Your Accomplishments, here.)
“It’s not enough to find your voice. You’ve also got to use your voice,” she says. Like many of us, Stephanie found that awkward at first. Here are four strategies she’s found useful.
4 Strategies for Finding Your Voice
1. Get Clear on What Differentiates You
Understanding what makes you unique is a key to unlocking new opportunities, both inside your organization and externally. “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.” When you identify what differentiates you, and deepen your expertise in those areas, you can pounce on opportunities to share your expertise. Do this consistently and you’ll be on your way to becoming a sought-after voice of authority in your industry.
2. Reproduce Best Practices
“Being able to tie accomplishments to bottom-line growth is an easy way to brag about yourself—without seeming boastful,” says Stephanie. She recommends taking best practices that worked well in one area and applying them to deliver valuable outcomes in another area. The bigger the impact you make, the more you’ll stand out. It’s a great way to share your knowledge with others while also showing what you know.
3. Don’t Wait for Performance Review Time
Stephanie started scheduling weekly check-ins with her manager. Her aim was to create a casual cadence for sharing accomplishments, keeping him up to speed on what was happening, instead of saving everything up for her annual review.
Speak with your management and ask “Mind if I keep you updated?” and “How frequently would you like me to check in?” so it’s not only acceptable to share your progress, but expected. That way, it’s not self-promoting, it’s updating.
4. Connect, And Share Your Expertise
Stephanie’s standout strengths and specialization in integrated media made her a valuable resource across her firm. This, in turn, connected her to people she would not otherwise have met, whose areas of expertise complemented her own. “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 make a wider impact, let alone get credit for your work, don’t just find your voice. Use your voice.
Which of the four strategies will help get you there?
Adapted from Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw-Hill, 2019) by Jo Miller. A version of this post, Four Strategies for Finding Your Voice, first appeared at Forbes.com.