Stop Calling Yourself a Social Media Ninja
July 22, 2015•12 min
If you absolutely love to talk about all the great things you've done and are constantly promoting yourself, you're probably not doing it right.
For the rest of us, the idea of bragging or self-promotion is gut-wrenching. It's uncomfortable, and something about it can feel dishonest.
Author Dorie Clark gets it. But she says if you want to succeed, you'll have to learn "How To Promote Yourself Without Looking Like A Jerk." In her Harvard Business Review article. she explains that she doesn't want the blowhards to win; she wants the good guys to succeed. The trick, according to Clark, is re-framing "bragging" and making it more genuine.
"Self promotion starts with understanding what you're good at," Clark told WNYC's Charlie Herman. And then learning how to tell the truth about your abilities, but in a graceful, tailored way.
1. Return to facts. Get people focused on your quantifiable accomplishments, rather than unsubstantiated declarations of bravado. You can assemble a set of proof points — concrete goals you've met — that illustrate you know what you're doing.
2. Make it relevant. Tailor the information you provide about yourself to the person you're talking to. The only way to do that is to listen. In a conversation, don't lead with yourself, but rather, learn as much as possible about the person you're talking to before you start to talk about your own accomplishments. If you're prone to talking about yourself up front, treat it like a game of chicken: see how long can you wait before getting to you. And if you do talk about something you've done, be sure it is connected to what the other person is talking about.
These are tips that might sound familiar: "Dating and professional life are remarkably similar," Clark said, "It's all about people."
In that vein, Clark said one strategy to make self-promotion run smoother is to get yourself a professional "wingman" or a friend or peer who can brag about you (so you don't have to). Another approach is to tell stories — that are, of course, true and relevant to the conversation. To avoid making your accomplishments sound like a laundry list, tell stories like you would to a friend. In the professional world, people give the friend-making game the name "networking," and that's why it seems so stilted. Just be yourself.