Whether it’s at work or in your social circle, we’ve all encountered that person who loves to toot their own horn. Sometimes they can be just plain obnoxious. In today’s remote workplace, however, tooting your own horn to your boss and colleagues may be necessary in order to get credit and recognition.
The problem is that it can feel uncomfortable. Meredith Fineman, author of Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion, calls highly competent professionals who struggle with voicing their achievements the “qualified quiet,” and being one it could have a negative impact on your career.
“Today there are fewer hours for getting visibility and attention,” she says. “Many of us don’t have a vocabulary to talk positively about our professional accomplishments. Often, our role models aren’t good ones. We don’t want to emulate or learn from these blowhards.”
Self-promotion can be harder for women, adds Fineman. “We’re judged on different metrics and we have our voices policed,” she says. “Social conditioning tells us to shut up and look pretty. That’s scary and can lead to impostor syndrome.”
Since many of us are working remotely, we’re losing the tools we normally use for demonstrating our capabilities, like in-person meetings where we can impress others. We have no choice but to brag and brag better, says Fineman.
“Take stock in what you’re putting out there and lay a solid foundation with repetition and consistency,” she says. “Nobody will know what you’re doing unless you tell them.”
Where to brag
Her are three places where you can start promoting yourself:
Your Bio: The first step is reviewing your LinkedIn bio and using it to paint a cohesive picture and story you want to tell, says Fineman. “Your bio is a solid baseline,” she says. “Review it quarterly. This is a good bragging spot. People expect to see you brag here.”
For example, Fineman’s LinkedIn bio includes: “[Meredith Fineman’s] humor and relatability as a 13-year-long freelance writer on business and entrepreneurship make her a popular voice for a millennial audience and beyond. All of her side projects, from events to products to websites, showcase her ability to connect current trends with action.”
Your Web Presence: Next, do a sweep of your personal website and social media profiles to make sure they’re cohesive and include mentions of accomplishments. Fineman says every professional needs a strong web presence, including a personal website.
“Your company website bio only shows specific version of you,” she says. “Having your own website is the only place online where you can control conversation. This is where you can showcase who you are and share your personality and interests.”
Your Email Signature: An often overlooked place to brag is in your email sign off. Here, include a link to anything you’ve written or been interviewed for. You can also add a link to your website or portfolio. And if you’ve won any awards, don’t be afraid to include them.
How to brag
When sharing your accomplishments, Fineman recommends using three pillars: proud, loud, and strategic. ”
Being proud is most difficult for some people,” she says. “Acknowledge what you’ve done and be proud of it.”
Being loud about your accomplishments isn’t about volume. It’s about repetition and consistency.
And be strategic by sharing information where your audience will be. “If you’re looking for a raise, know who is in charge of that decision and determine how will can learn about your wins,” says Fineman. “You have to be explicit. People can’t infer things when we’re all behind screens. You have to tell them who you are and what you want.”
But don’t insult yourself
Make sure your self-promotion is net positive. Find language that works for you, but don’t verbally undercut yourself, says Fineman.
“People will add things like ‘shameless plug’ or ‘shameless self-promotion’ on their brag posts,” she says. “That is insulting yourself before someone else does.”
When people read see “shameless plug,” it can give them anxiety that they don’t know what to do with, says Fineman. “It can stop them in their tracks because they don’t know how to respond,” she says. “Instead, add, ‘I’d be grateful if you read or share this.'”
It can take time to get to a level of personal self confidence where you brag about yourself, says Fineman. “You need to get behind yourself even if you’re afraid,” she says. “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will. Fake it ’til you make it. Remove any negative qualifiers. And post it.”