I hear it all the time, professionals believe that they don’t need to sell themselves, self promote or market themselves outside of doing “good work.” If you just do “good work” that it will attract more work. And so, there is no need for fluff like marketing, branding, business development, etc. because you’re building a reputation on quality work.

I’m here to tell you, that belief is a lie and it’s probably hurting your career. At bare minimum it’s not helping you as much as you think. 

The fallacy of “good work” is at play with all sorts of professionals. Unfortunately, there are two demographics where I see this the most, 1) the male, pale and stale group (aka this is the way I’ve always done it)  and sadly, 2) professional women.

For professional women in their careers, I see a significant lack of self promotion. Extraordinary and successful women in the workplace are constantly fall into this trap of “good work”. They focus on proving their worth through working exceptionally hard and achieving fantastic results and then they sit back and try to let the good work speak for them.

It. Drives. Me. Bonkers.  At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to tell you why “good work” is bupkis and give you a few tips for what you should do to attract more work or additional opportunities.

Good work is the ticket to the table, not an invitation to stay and play.

In this day and age (and really, probably every age before), doing good work is the expectation. It is the bare minimum. The expectation is that you are good at your job. You are the subject matter expert. You got the position you’re in because you deserve it and you know what you’re doing. So doing good work, even great work is not a key differentiator.

If you want to win that client, stand out to your peers or be picked for promotion, the bare minimum is good work. Also known as doing your job.

And in the digital world, there are a bajillion people claiming to do a good job or great job or produce the best work someone has ever seen. So let’s stop talking about good work like it’s anything other than the starting point. If you’re not promoting yourself, selling yourself, selling your services, you’re not inviting new work in.

It can take 7-14 touches before you make a difference.

Research shows that messages that are repeated are easier to remember. Seven times is supposedly the lucky number.

People need 6-20 exposures to audio messages to retain them according to the Financial Brand.

In a presentation given at the 2018 LSSO conference, David Ackert, stated it can take 14 touches for someone to purchase professional services.

My point being, that you have to do A LOT of good work to likely be even remembered for your good work. How many people have you known in your professional career who’ve been pretty good at their jobs? Who have been pretty consistent with doing good work? Probably a lot. Do they all stand out in your head? Probably not.

If you’re looking for a promotion, what key message have you communicated to your boss 7 or 14 or 20 times? How is this message differentiating you from everyone else who is going for a promotion?

Good work has to survive the 4 to 1 ratio

There is a sales methodology program called GrowBIG, put out by Mo Bunnell of the Bunnell Idea Group. (Wow that was a mouthful!) In this program, the idea of good experiences overcoming bad experiences is discussed and the ratio is about 4 to 1.

It takes 4 good experiences to overcome the memory of 1 bad experience. If we apply this to our idea of “good work,” you’ve got to be pretty darn consistent in your experiences.

If you’re looking to expand with a current client or just get repeat business, you have to be sure each experience is carefully managed. All it takes is one less-than-stellar result to mess up the ratio if you’re standing on good work alone. Now, if you’ve got more to offer this client than just the promise of good work, your client relationship has stronger legs to stand on.


Now that I’ve beaten this concept of lame “good work” to death. What  can you do to attract more work, get that promotion or negotiate your pay increase?

  1.  Promote yourself.
    Don’t assume that people are going to notice the good work you’re doing. Tell your boss and your peers when you’ve had a big win, landed that new client or accomplished a major project milestone.
  2. Be solutions driven.
    When you actively seek to solve problems you show up in a big way. Explaining how well you understand the problem only shows that you know something is wrong. But when you’re focused on solutions (for yourself, your boss, your client), you are more likely to be remembered as the expert. And EVERYONE loves a problem solver.
  3. Be a storyteller.
    It can be difficult to promote yourself without sounding boastful. One way to get around this is to be a success storyteller. Bring up solutions you’ve used historically to solve the problems you’re currently facing. Next time you’re working with a client, mention the solutions you’ve provided in similar circumstances before and offer options for what you’d suggest in this situation.
  4. Have your tribe promote you.
    Just another reason having a tribe is so important – they can promote you. If you’ve got a big win and you want to share it but just can’t seem to promote yourself, talk to your tribe. Ask a co-worker, your boss or your professional network to share the good news on your behalf. Work closely with your tribe to cultivate the message so it matches your branding but ask them to share your successes publicly when they can.

It is important to do your job well. But relying on just doing a good job is not enough to help you advance the ball. In fact, it can make you look lazy or out of touch. Take it a step further and stand out from the rest.

What other ways can you promote yourself or stand out? What tips did I miss?


Photo by Jonathan Richard on Unsplash