Basically, how to toot your own horn without feeling like a dope.
Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise. These words may have some clout… until social media came along. A competitive workforce and the pressure to have a polished online brand means that now more than ever we need to get comfortable about tooting our own horns to get ahead. We all know those skilled self-publicists, whos aren’t afraid to showcase their pristine online profiles, while ‘running between meetings’. Often it seems like they’re the ones getting all the kudos for their accomplishments and cinching those crucial career opportunities because they know how to market themselves, while the more modesty-inclined among us fly beneath the radar.
Perhaps you simply don’t want to partake in the social media parade or you’ve never been great at earmarking your own achievements. Maybe you’re worried about coming across like a total braggart. Or you just feel really uncomfortable shouting your achievements from the rooftops.
Whatever your reasons for keeping schtum, the experts agree: self-promotion is crucial if you want to get ahead, whether it’s proving yourself in a job interview, impressing your boss so you get a promotion or building ‘brand you’ online. In fact, one recent productivity study by business school researchers found that self-promoters often get ahead on the reputations they had manufactured, while doing very little work at all. By looking busy and bugging themselves up they had managed to rig the system, ensuring their bosses – or industry onlookers – always thought of them as the best person for the job.
With all this in mind, sometimes it can feel like you’re falling behind even though you’re putting in the hard graft. So how can you make yourself visible and talk about your talents without looking like a show-off?
“Owning your own brilliance is essential for you to grow into your happily ever after and who you dream of becoming. It’s not bragging, showing off, being cocky or too big for your boots,” explains life and career coach Paula Coogan (myquarterlifecoach.com). “Owning your own brilliance is accepting and stating a fact about yourself with truth and love.” Trouble is, as women we’re often taught to be modest about our achievements.
“Often, we don’t allow ourselves to be brilliant and to state that as a fact. We’re conditioned to be selfless, humble and to belittle our greatness,” Paula points out. “We do this so much and we play ourselves down so much that we lose sight of the fact that we are awesome. This way of behaviour and conditioning hurts us and causes us to hide out talents.”
Nothing worth having ever came easy. We might like to let on that some of our greatest work achievements were a total doddle, but for the most part, accomplishments tend to be the result of a whole lot of hard graft. When discussing your achievements don’t forget to mention the hard work that went into it, the challenges you overcame and the lessons you learned along the way. Bragging about how something was a total breeze doesn’t make you look like a total pro: it tends to seem arrogant, so if you want to mention something great you accomplished, don’t forget to mention the struggle too.
Bonus: when you take note of all of the effort you put in to get to where you are now, it’ll feel less like bragging and more like giving credit where credit’s due too.
Think of your profile pic and bio as your headshot and CV: people should know instantly who you are and what you do. You don’t need to pollute your profile with career highlights but you can flag a few of your achievements here and there. Don’t want to come across as someone who’s constantly banging on about work? Strike a balance by interspersing updates about what you’re up to when you’re off-duty with occasional office updates that you can save to ‘story highlights’ if you’re using Instagram. This way, your career achievements are all in one handy place for anyone who wants to find them.
Maybe you don’t want to go down the Instagram humble brag route and you don’t like waxing lyrical about your key skills because it makes you feel like a narcissist, but sooner or later, your achievements are going to come up in person, whether it’s’ during an annual work review or when you’re interviewing for a new role. Don’t be stumped: keep a list of all your achievements, big and small throughout the year. Maybe you landed a big sale or you doubled traffic to the company website. Own these achievements and practice talking about them until it feels comfortable.
Ever feel threatened, small and jealous of the success and happiness of others? It’s likely. In this mindset, it can feel like you have to compete with your peers, but resist the urge to start showing off. “I need to practice gratitude at least once a day for me to stay grounded, centered and for me to be who I want to be,” Paula explains. Basically? Don’t self publicise because you’re jealous and want to make yourself appear better than someone else – people will see through it.
If talking about what you’ve accomplished as an individual gives you the ick, try mentioning the things you’ve achieved as part of a team. Acknowledging the part others have played in your successes shows you’re not all me, me, me, – and bonus point, it showcases your ability to work as part of a team. Shouting out and congratulating others in your industry is a handy networking tool too – as long as it’s done authentically.
Don’t overthink your self-promotion, just let it happened when it’s due. “I don’t know about you, but I held back in life so often!” says Paula. “I second-guessed myself, hesitated, over-thought every little thing and got myself into analysis paralysis. Most of the time I did this when an opportunity presented itself or when I wanted to do something really amazing and exciting, something that would make me happy!” she muses.
So hit that share button and sing your own praises, because you’re awesome and sometimes it’s not just what you know, but who knows you. Remember that!