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Forget modesty norms; embrace self-promotion

June 17, 2018 5 min read

Forget modesty norms; embrace self-promotion

For some of us, the inclination to share our personal achievements and skills comes naturally.

However, for most of us….well…the struggle is real!

The thing is; self-promotion is a critical skill that we NEED to get comfortable with, and it's a skill that is fundamental to EVERY stage of our career path.

Many people hold the mistaken belief that doing great work should be enough.

.....Unfortunately, it’s often not!

If you work hard and wait patiently enough, it is NOT guaranteed that anyone will take notice. People are just too busy today to go out of their way to find you, recognise and reward you.

Get over the modesty norms!

First things first; shake off that "good-girl" conditioning that we were all grew up with; that you should never do anything that comes across as “bragging” or “arrogant” and get out there and start taking credit for your accomplishments, showcase your skills and build that golden reputation!

A great way to start practising this is by graciously accepting compliments.

Next time someone pays you a compliment; don’t brush it off, throw it back or down play your achievement; force yourself to accept it gracefully, simply with a “Thank you”.

Better yet, let the person know just how much their recognition means to you and, if the compliment is work related, offer some details about the effort that went into obtaining the result, which also underscores the importance of the contribution you made. For instance, “Thank you, that means a lot”, “I put a lot of work into [x], so it was really rewarding to see the [outcome]."

Reframe your thoughts.

People often think that self-promotion is not nice, or not socially acceptable; generally because they don’t want to be “that person” who did it terribly, or in an obnoxiously dreadful way!

In fact guiltless self-promotion comes from a true understanding of who you are and the unique value you bring to your job, your community, and the world.

The trick to doing this comfortably is to reframe it and no longer think of it as “self-promotion” – it is simply your "honest sharing" and highlighting of what you’ve truly accomplished. That is, what you would say if we were able to take your inner critic and fear of being seen as “arrogant” out of the equation.

Understand that no one is more passionate about your work than you.

In the working world everyone is juggling their own responsibilities and, without promotion of some sort, they are unlikely to notice when others do well. Indeed the world is too full of "noise" for anyone to rely on others taking notice without a little help.

I would go as far to say that your survival depends on YOU taking action to ensure that your achievements are appropriately brought to the attention of your target audience or relevant decision makers.


Equally, no one can elaborate on your unique skills set as convincingly as you can.

Relying on others to promote or notice your skills takes away the best opportunity for you to demonstrate your value!

Also…People are not mind readers.

They have no way of knowing about the great work you are doing unless you let them know.

Identify, and be able to articulate, your unique skills set.

Your unique skills set or value proposition is the individual way in which you deliver work that contributes to positive business outcomes. It is the foundation of authentic self-promotion and what will give you the confidence you need to talk about yourself in a positive manner.

The first step here is to identify your strengths; know what ‘sets your soul on fire’ and be able to talk about these skills and interests freely, confidently and passionately. 

A fantastic tool to help you identify your key strengths (and which is completely free), is the VIA strengths test. Click here to check it out.

Once identified, think about how these strengths have helped you in the past?

How are these strengths helping you now?

What are your accomplishments?

Something I've found useful along the way is to keep an accomplishment log. The thing is, it's easy to recall all the big achievements when you need to, but what about all the small wins which may have been more powerful than the easier to recall larger ones?

Keeping an accomplishment log makes sure you develop an awareness of your strengths and keeps these "wins" front of mind, enabling you to share them freely when you know that they'll strike a chord and provide value to the people you're speaking with. 

Be ready to communicate your value.

Be ready and able to communicative why you are a value-add and an indispensable team member – but…be mindful of picking the right moment!

Positioning yourself as part of a solution that will help others achieve their goals is a powerful way to highlight your accomplishments and potential. To do this well, you must tailor your conversation to align your value proposition with other’s goals and interests. The result is they know how you impact positive business results, and you are now on their radar and front of mind for future opportunities.

As mentioned above, start with making a point of mentioning your skills when you know that they’ll strike a chord; to do this well, work within the flow of the conversation and offer useful information at appropriate intervals. 

The best way to do this is by sharing anecdotes and enthusiastically told stories in which you happen to have played a leading role. Framed in this manner, you ensure that you are always contributing something to the conversation and to the people taking part in it. 

People think and remember things in stories, rather than facts. Sharing your story is both a great way to influence others and key to forming emotional connections and building trust with your audience. 

Remember, authenticity is fundamental!

So make sure your message remains authentic to you. Only use language that you're comfortable with using and always focus on the positives (or reframe the negatives). For instance, what went smoothly or well? What did you contribute? What did you learn?

Most importantly, do be careful not to go into overkill territory - keep it punchy and succinct! 

Walk the talk.

When promoting yourself, style is incredibly important, but there also has to be real substance behind your promotions; you must also be able to demonstrate your value to establish credibility or “social proof”.

Some easy ways to do things include:

  • speaking up in meetings and let your opinion be known.
  • taking credit for your accomplishments.
  • using assertive communication.
  • writing or sharing articles to become a subject matter expert.

Your network is your net worth.

Embrace the feeling of being out of your comfort zone, because that's when you truly grow. Network well and network often!

When meeting people for the first time, be ready and able to share what you do in a way that leaves people excited to find out more. From there, it’s a matter of etiquette; don’t make the conversation all about you; instead, see it as an opportunity to learn something new about the other person and how you can help them.

If you still feel uncomfortable, the easiest way to gather appropriate language is to ask clients, friends or colleagues to describe what you do and what you do well.  
Then use that language and those stories to tell people about who you are and what you do.

Alternatively, find a like-minded wingwoman and take turns promoting each other. In the office generally, at meetings or at conferences, you and your friend can make a point of mentioning each other’s accomplishments or bringing up conversational topics where your wingwoman excels.


STOP self-depreciating! It undermines your credibility.

Don’t humble brag! Be loud and proud about it!

Stand tall and get out there and share your story!

The Multitasker Handbag

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