Do you feel ‘funny’ about promoting yourself? Surprisingly, it’s a comment I hear from men and women who are experts, consultants, and accomplished professionals. Is it a lack of confidence, a voice from the past about not being good enough or a fear of being recognized? 

A healthy dose of self-esteem is important to be successful, but you don’t want to appear as a shameless self-promoter or show-off. That actually works against you because others get annoyed and see you as inconsiderate and egotistical. In this month’s Harvard Business Review, Leslie K. John, author of Savvy Self Promotion tells us to ‘focus on earning recognition through consistent performance.” Her father, like mine, always said, “cream rises to the top.” 

5 Ways to Promote Yourself Without Bragging

  1. State the facts, ma’am. If you’re asked a question about your expertise, answer it. There’s no reason to wobble about your accomplishments, especially if they’re facts. You’re one of ten national experts with a particular certification, your TV show is airing in 2.5 million homes, your book is a #1 Amazon bestseller. That’s news to share (and great for a media release). 
  2. Give insight when asked. But please, no “boomerasking.” That’s when you intentionally let someone else have the floor for a short while, then boomerang the conversation back to you and why you’re so great. You’ve seen it happen. Eyes roll, people sigh, and then there’s a noticeable mood shift, and not a pleasant one.  
  3. Join in when others are sharing. But don’t dominate the conversation. Share your accomplishments and be an engaged listener. Not everyone is comfortable with talking themselves up or listening to someone pontificate. In business, networking, and on social media, there’s a time to listen and a time to ask questions. A pompous ass will always stand out, and that’s probably not how you want to market yourself. 
  4. Find a cheerleader. Sometimes it’s easier to find or hire a cheerleader, promoter or marketing specialist who can speak on your behalf or teach you how to promote yourself. There are benefits to both. If you’re asking for help, you’ll receive strategic direction, praise, and a boost of confidence. The cheerleader or promoter who offers key support will share your joy and the glow of positive feedback. Second hand bragging, like earned media, also builds reputation and credibility. 
  5. Know your weaknesses and strengths. As a marketer, you’re taught to look at why you’re special and what’s your unique selling proposition. Your goal is to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. 

In the end, it comes down to balance, not braggadocio. Sharing small weaknesses that make you human and help you connect with others, understanding not overestimating your strengths, and celebrating your successes – even if they’re small ones, with a close group of friends or your inner circle.

Bottomline: What’s the secret formula for self-promotion? 

There’s no secret formula. You need healthy self-promotion and marketing to build your business, promote your brand, and get media attention. If you’ve chosen the right strategies, aren’t working in a silo, and are following a plan to meet pre-determined goals, you won’t feel insecure or the need to overcompensate.   

Obviously, that’s subject to change given how you feel on a certain day or how much you have to pump yourself up for a big event. 

Have a speaking gig or shooting videos? You’re 1,000 percent amazing. Creating team building strategies? Dial down the “I’m great” factor and direct your energy to what you want to accomplish, and the best way to get there. 

Granted, you’re smart, talented, and accomplished. But if your personal and professional brand screams conceited jerk, that’s not going to help you in the long run.  

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