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Have you noticed that it is now common to use the term “personal branding” instead of self-promotion?

Personal branding and self-promotion are, in fact, the same.  I have come to believe that the term self-promotion is so off-putting for women that we will do almost anything to avoid it. Hence, it’s become the” pink elephant” in the room. We know it’s there and yet we don’t want to recognize its presence, hoping that somehow it will disappear. Its very existence is, in fact, threatening, overwhelming, and often scary. We’d rather dance around it rather than deal with it.

So now we call it personal branding and hope that with a new name it will be more acceptable and something that we can embrace instead of the uncomfortable concept of promoting ourselves. But I believe in calling a spade a spade. It’s still all about promoting yourself, and self-promotion remains an important key to your success as a woman in business today.

And the evidence is in. There have been a variety of studies and research that support the need for women to talk about their accomplishments in order to advance their careers, such as the Catalyst 2011 study, The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead. Intellectually, we understand the importance of differentiating ourselves and letting others know what we bring to the table. Emotionally, we get hung up in our limiting beliefs about the need to be humble and blend in, our need to be liked, our fear of rejection.

Well, it’s time to “man-up” and dance with the pink elephant. She’s not going away and your continual avoidance of her will only contribute to your lack of career and business success.

How do you dance with the Pink Elephant?

First, you need to change your mind set about promoting yourself. There were probably many things you didn’t want to learn and did anyway, right? Self-promotion is a necessary skill. (I remember how much I hated Algebra, but I realized its importance and learned it.)

Second, take the time to understand your value and what is unique about you. This is so important that I can’t stress it enough. You probably think you know what value you offer your organization, your clients, your community, your family and friends, but I would challenge you and say that unless you’ve taken some time and done some soul searching, you probably don’t know your value.

If you don’t know your value proposition, then promoting yourself will ALWAYS be uncomfortable and difficult. You will feel phony because you haven’t made the necessary connection with your unique value.

As I’ve said before, everything changes when you understand your value. You can then talk about yourself with confidence. You will speak up in meetings, voice your opinion, and take advantage of opportunities to showcase your talent.

Dance with the pink elephant. If you climb on board, you may just end up where you’ve always wanted to go!