BuiltIn Boston, an online tech community, recently interviewed Hiral Shah, a lead technical consultant at Perficient, to discuss the importance for women to self-advocate and the benefits she has realized as a result. Hiral gave insightful responses and advice while discussing how the Perficient community has been an integral part of improving her confidence and helping her self-advocate.
Getting Past the Fear to Advocate for Yourself
“My family is a big driving force behind me. Because of them, I feel supported to believe in myself and keep pushing myself forward. I also think about what is in the best interest of my teams and clients. This empowers me to be clear, persistent, and to assert myself to deliver high-quality work,” explained Hiral.
It is important to make sure that you put forth your accomplishments by taking pride in your work, celebrating your successes with other colleagues, and being outspoken about your achievements, especially when you have taken the extra mile. Start by looking at your work from the perspective of the benefit it provides. When you approach your work from the mindset of the positive impact it can have, you empower yourself and others to appreciate your contributions.
“The first time speaking for yourself is always going to be the scariest, but if you just pass that barrier of fear the first time it will get better,” added Hiral.
READ MORE: Perficient Celebrates Women in Technology
She continues, saying Perficient has enabled her growth by offering tools and opportunities to improve her confidence and influence. “It has been two years since I have joined this company, and my experience has been phenomenal. Everyone has been very open-minded and never felt like I should think twice before expressing my views or opinions.”
Some Advice for Other Women Who Experience Self-Doubt
“Never feel hesitant or diffident in sharing your concerns, opinions, or achievements with your manager and teammates. Try to appreciate your colleagues, and look for ways to make your work more visible.”
As Hiral points out, effective communication and working well with others is often the first step to improving your confidence. She also emphasizes that it is never too late to start advocating for yourself, and she points to the variety of resources Perficient provides to help jumpstart the process, such as blogs and employee resource groups,
Recently, Perficient’s colleague-led Women in Technology group hosted a Lunch and Learn event discussing self-advocacy and shared advice on how to work towards confidence. Kate Feltman, solutions architect, led the event and recommended thinking about advocacy less as bragging but more like making your work visible. This can be done in small steps such as updating your LinkedIn profile or personal website with your thoughts, insights, and expertise, or taking bigger steps by speaking to your supervisor about your goals and accomplishments.
Blog posts like How Perficient Employees Slay Imposter Syndrome also give important tips to help improve self-confidence by challenging yourself, repeating daily affirmations, questioning intrusive thoughts, and remembering that we are all human. These actions can help you feel more comfortable discussing your achievements in the workplace while combating self-doubt.
When has Self-Advocacy Paid-Off?
“There were times earlier in my career where I was not able to effectively take a stand for my opinion because I was too shy and introverted to reach out. Later on, I started to collaborate and communicate more with my colleagues. I participated often in professional events to be able to connect with co-workers, and it has really helped me in the long run.”
She mentions that one of her proudest moments came from presenting at the 2019 Sitecore Symposium tradeshow as a result of her hard work and dedication that stemmed from advocating for herself. “It was my first time presenting in front of big images in the technology Sitecore world, people were so supportive not only at the event but from home as well, and took and shared the video around. It made me feel really comfortable and appreciated.”
Though it can be frightening to put yourself out there, it is important that you feel recognized for all the hard work you put in. As Hiral’s story shows, Perficient is a place that champions your successes to ensure you feel confident, heard, and able to bring your best self forward.
At Perficient, we continually look for ways to champion and challenge our talented workforce with interesting projects for high-profile clients, encourage personal and professional growth through training and mentoring, and celebrate our people-oriented culture and the innovative ways they serve Perficient and the community.