For some, the inclination to share personal achievements and skills comes naturally. The rest of us? Well, let’s just say we’d rather give up carbs for life than self-promote.
“We hate to promote ourselves because we don’t want to look like we’re being a show-off,” says Margie Warrell, author of Make Your Mark: A Guidebook For The Brave Hearted (Wiley, $24.95). “Yet, the fact is, if we’re not sharing what we’re up to and what we love to do, we’re actually depriving the world of our gifts and strengths.”
There’s a good chance you’ve grown up with the notion that bragging is practically a criminal offence, so it’s no wonder you feel icky about spruiking your skills.
The struggle is definitely real, but failing to put yourself in the spotlight means you could miss out on some amazing opportunities. Find out how to become your own cheerleader (minus the cringe).
Change your mindset
The first step to graceful self-promotion is to reframe how you think about it. There’s a good chance you’ve grown up with the notion that bragging is practically a criminal offence, so it’s no wonder you feel icky about spruiking your skills. The thing is, self-promotion isn’t the same as self-congratulation. It’s just an opportunity to tell the world what you have to offer. “I think it’s really important to look at it through the lens of, ‘this is what I have to give’,” says Margie. “To me, it’s not a brag at all, because the more people who know what it is you want to do, the more people there are who can help you do it.”
Work on your personal brand
Defining your strengths and skills is key – it’ll help develop your pride and confidence in who you are. But, a lot of people have never taken the time to clarify their personal brand, says Nikki Fogden-Moore, corporate coach and author of Finding Your Fitpreneur: How to be the CEO of Your Business and Life (Vitality Coach, $29.95). “You need to let people know what really lights you up,” she says.
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Get started by thinking about your personality traits (you might be super organised, or great at connecting people). Next, consider what your practical skills are and what you always deliver in your work. “And then, what are you passionate about? What’s one little insight that sets you apart? And it shouldn’t be like, ‘FYI, I love cats’,” laughs Nikki. “It’s your added value. So it could be a high attention to detail, it could be customer service. What’s your special sauce?”
A little work-around for those struggling to put together their own highlight reel is to outsource the job. Reach out to friends, family or colleagues for their take on what makes you unique and what they love about your work. “Get a testimonial or a reference – that way you’re not talking about yourself and it takes away the onus,” Nikki says.
When you’re ready to start sharing what you do with the world, take inspiration from how others self-promote, but make sure your message remains authentic.
“It’s all about using language that’s comfortable to you,” tips Nikki. “Share examples of your work and passion for what you do in a conversational style rather than shoving it down people’s throats. So it might be something like, ‘Hey, I really loved working on this shoot – here’s a behind-the-scenes look’.”
Get comfy with discomfort
Self-promotion might make you cringe the first 50 times you try it, but the more you put yourself out there (and notice that the earth doesn’t stop spinning as a result), the better you’ll get at tooting your own horn.
Build up your confidence by creating a kick-ass LinkedIn profile, suggests Nikki. “It’s a really good way to hone getting used to promoting yourself.”
And if you still feel awkward about the whole self-promotion biz, remember this little nugget of advice from Margie: “If all you ever do is what’s comfortable, you’ll never really thrive,” she says.
Go on, show us what you’ve got.