How to promote yourself without being obnoxious
Self promotion can lead to career promotion - when done right.
While doing great work is critical to getting ahead, it’s also important that people know about it. Unfortunately, hard work sometimes goes unnoticed by the people who matter the most - and it’s up to you to change that.
Self-promotion can be tricky, however. On the one hand, talking about yourself goes against everything your mother taught you growing up. Go about it the wrong way, and you risk coming across as pompous or arrogant. On the other hand, you can’t always count on other people to sing your praises. Here are some tips for promoting yourself the right way.
Always have an answer ready.
The next time your boss asks, “What’s going on?” don’t just default to your go-to response of “not much” or “the usual.” Have an actual answer ready. This seemingly simple question is actually a huge opportunity to talk about a cool project you’re working on, a recent accomplishment, or that thank you email a client just sent you.
Take advantage of performance reviews.
If ever there’s an appropriate time to toot your own horn, it’s during your performance review. Go into your review prepared. Make a list of recent accomplishments, projects completed and challenges you’ve overcome since the last review. Ask colleagues and clients for (positive) feedback you can show your boss as well.
Lift your colleagues up.
An easy, subtle way to talk yourself up is to promote others at the same time. For example, if you worked on a project that recently got great results, say something like, “So proud to be part of this talented team. Our hard work really paid off!”
Don’t compare yourself to others.
When talking about your accomplishments, speak in terms of how they pertain to your own career highs and professional growth – not in terms of how they make you better than others. For example, instead of pointing out that you had more sales than any of your team members this quarter, talk about how you nabbed a major client.
Learn to accept a compliment.
Not only is it hard for us to brag about ourselves, it can also be difficult to take a compliment, for fear that doing so will come across as arrogant or elicit some type of “Mean Girls”-style backlash. Instead of downplaying your accomplishment the next time it’s handed to you, simply say, “Thanks. I put a lot of hard work into it.”
Work it into the conversation. Naturally.
Ask others what they are working on. When they reciprocate (and hopefully they will), it will give you the opportunity to discuss a recent achievement.
Read the room.
Be aware of times when it’s not appropriate to talk about your accomplishments. For example, if you got a promotion the same day the company announced layoffs, that might not be the time to bring up your good fortune.
Don’t spread fake news.
Resist the urge to exaggerate, manipulate the facts or stretch the truth when discussing your accomplishments. If people discover that you got creative with the truth, you’ll lose credibility, and the next time you bring up an achievement, people might not believe you.