Self-advocacy isn’t a dirty word. So why is it so hard to do?
Here’s why self-advocacy skills don’t come naturally to you.
You were taught to play nice. Trust the experts. And be humble. But when it comes to your career, these qualities can hurt you.
Self-advocacy is about showing up for yourself. Promoting your ideas. And not downplaying your achievements.
Let’s talk about self-advocacy skills. And why they’re so important.
What is Self-Advocacy?
Self-advocacy is standing up for yourself and demanding your worth. It’s having the belief that you and your opinions matter.
To self-advocate means to speak up and promote your best interests. Advocating for yourself is becoming your biggest ally.
Why are Self-Advocacy Skills Important?
Self-advocacy skills are important because your future depends on them. Not advocating for yourself can cost you career and job opportunities.
Learning self-advocacy skills is especially important for women and unrepresented people. Women hold only 31% of senior management roles globally as of 2021. Women of color represent only 4% of C-Level roles in the U.S. as of 2018.
Advocating for yourself helps you fight for your rights and break barriers.
10 Self-Advocacy Skills
1. Believing you deserve it
Self-advocacy starts with your mindset. If you’re not convinced that you’re worthy of good things. It’ll be hard to get others to believe in you.
This isn’t to be confused with entitlement. Get to the bottom of any insecurities preventing you from being your biggest advocate.
2. Shamelessly asking for what you want
Closed mouths don’t get fed. Be shameless about asking for what you want. When you don’t ask. The answer is always ‘no.’
When you ask for what you want. And don’t get a response. Don’t be so quick to give up. No response doesn’t mean ‘no.’ Follow up until you get a response.
3. Practicing positive self-talk
There’s no room for beating yourself up if you want to be your biggest advocate. We all make mistakes. Show yourself the same grace you show others.
Next time you mess up. Give yourself a deadline for dwelling on the mistake. Then move on. Replace self-defeating words with positive affirmations. Do this until it becomes second nature.
4. Tracking your accomplishments
It’s hard to practice self-advocacy if you don’t understand what value you offer. That’s why tracking your accomplishments is important.
A brag book can help with that. It’s perfect if you struggle to speak up about your wins. A brag book is a journal that helps track your professional achievements, compliments, and results.
5. Asking for help when you need it
Don’t put pressure on yourself to have all the answers. Let others help you. Practice saying “I don’t know. Let me find out who does.”
Admitting when you need help and asking for it, is a self-advocacy skill. You show up for yourself by letting others show up for you.
6. Standing up for yourself
You advocate for yourself by taking a stand on issues that concern you.
If someone takes credit for your work — say something. If you find out someone in your position is making more money than you — address it.
How you go about standing up for yourself matters. Only address issues when you’re calm. Gather your facts first. And always think win-win.
7. Being highly visible
You’re likely doing a great job at work. But if no one notices you. It doesn’t matter. This is why being highly visible is a self-advocacy skill.
If you wanna increase your visibility, do things that help you get noticed for the right reasons. Take on high-visibility projects that can boost your career. And share your knowledge with others at work.
8. Finding sponsors to help advocate for you
It’s one thing to toot your own horn. But if you can get others to toot it for you. It’s a game-changer. A sponsor can advocate for you in spaces you don’t have access to.
Find people in your industry whose opinions carry weight. Get to know them and add value first. Then make the big ask.
9. Showing up in situations where you can advocate for yourself
Self-advocacy involves being present in situations where you can advocate for yourself. It means attending events in your industry. Going to those “optional” work functions. And expanding your network.
If you’re absent in spaces where decisions are made. You can’t truly advocate for yourself.
10. Becoming an expert in your field
There are levels to self-advocacy. Becoming a go-to expert in your field is one of the highest forms of self-advocacy.
What topics are people always coming to you for? What can you do better than most? Brand yourself as the go-to expert on that topic and get the word out.
There are many ways to make your expertise known. You can offer your knowledge at work, in your community, or on social media.
Practicing Self-Advocacy Skills
Now that you know some of the top self-advocacy skills. It’s time to get out there and practice them. Your bank account will thank you.
Our leadership development plan can help guide you towards becoming your biggest fan.
The 22-page leadership workbook includes a leadership development planner, performance review checklist, personal branding guide, networking templates, and more. Grab it at NetWerk® University!
Over to You
How are you advocating for yourself? Let us know on social @netwerkmovement. Share this with someone working to build self-advocacy skills.