Bragging vs. Self-Promotion – Effective Leaders Know the Difference

When I was growing up my mother always said to me “don’t brag”.

She still to this day feels the same way to the point that she does not even like newsy Christmas letters because she feels the senders are bragging. In her eyes, brag is a bad four letter word.

How then in the business world do you get ahead if you don’t speak up? 

Instead of thinking of it as bragging, consider the term “self promotion.” Try to realize that you are only stating facts about yourself. If you think of engaging television commercials, the ad is promoting a product or service by explaining its features, customer service satisfaction rates, and other details – they are all facts.

Of course, there are some people that take self promotion too far and come off as arrogant and/or a snob. I am not talking about these types of individuals because in the long run they will sabotage themselves and their careers. I am referring more to being able to express your attributes succinctly so that the other party wants to do business with you.

How do you do this effectively? 

To start, you need to identify what it is that you want to say about yourself and/or your business. Make a list and think very broadly. Before you start to rank the list, ask yourself what items on the list would be most valuable to a potential company or hiring manager.

In other words, what’s in it for them?

No one considers you when they hear your pitch but instead they internalize it and figure out very quickly if it is something they need or want. Now narrow the list down to three major points.

Write one sentence for each point and use action verbs as well as compelling descriptive adjectives. Instead of saying “I am good at Excel at work”, consider “I mastered Excel in college and utilize it for financial analyses for my company.”

If you are selling a product or service, don’t say “This product works fast” but try “This product is proven to work in three seconds.”

Let a friend or colleague review these sentences. They should not contain long words or ones that the average person would not know.

Practice saying these sentences in front of a mirror or a person you trust. 

If the words don’t flow naturally you may need to tweak it. You also need to show confidence in what you are saying so if it is not believable to you, it won’t be to the person listening to you. Most of our communication is non-verbal so stand up tall, have good eye contact, and use inflections in your words. Lastly, make sure you smile.