November 15, 2023

Mastering the Art of Self-Promotion

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In July, Awardco rolled out our new company values. The first is simple: Recognize the Good. At Awardco, employees are encouraged to look for the good in and outside of the workplace. With Awardco’s integration with Slack, we constantly see a stream of messages praising others at the company for their contributions. It’s a constant reminder to not only recognize the good, but also to share the good. We’ve created a culture of recognizing the good in others, but how often do we recognize the good in ourselves?

To answer that question, I went to Meredith Fineman, author of “Brag Better: Master the art of fearless self-promotion.” Recognizing yourself, or “bragging” as she calls it, is essential to success in the workplace. She defines “bragging” as stating true facts about your work strategically and cohesively to advance your career. 

We often have a negative association with the word bragging. Many factors in our upbringing and messages from society tell us to stay quiet about our accomplishments. So to start, let’s talk about the reasons that keep us from sharing our achievements. 

Why It’s Hard to Self-Promote: 

  • Self-image. We don’t want to be THAT guy. We all know who I’m talking about: the person who is always bragging in the breakroom or singing their own praises on social media, and we cringe at the thought of being that person.
  • Ease. Staying quiet is easy. We come to work to work, not to seek praise. Putting our heads down and working is easier than being in the spotlight.
  • Vulnerability. Bragging is an act of vulnerability. When we share an accomplishment or something we’re proud of, we open ourselves up to potential judgement or rejection, and that can be scary.
  • Inadequacy. Imposter syndrome is REAL. It’s easy to get bogged down with feelings of inadequacy, especially when you think of the people that are perhaps more “qualified.” 

If you relate to ANY of these, you are not alone! Fineman identified a group she calls the “Qualified Quiet.” These are the people who keep showing up, doing great work, but struggle to talk about it (for any or ALL of the reasons above). These are the people who have ideas and solutions but might not feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting. These are the people who can hype up a friend at the drop of a hat, but struggle to find confidence in their own abilities. It’s the “Qualified Quiet” (almost ALL of us) who need to recognize the good they are doing and speak up! 

Why You NEED to Self-Promote: 

  • Your accomplishments are worth talking about. Your contributions are valuable and deserve to be recognized! 
  • No one will know about your accomplishments if you don’t tell them. Don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to notice your hard work. Tell them about it! 
  • You are your best advocate. No one cares more about your career development than you do. Make your goals known and go after them!
  • When we share our achievements, we empower others to do the same. To create a culture that celebrates success, it starts with one person. Share your wins and celebrate others’ accomplishments as well! 

Talking about our work can be just as important as doing the work. But for the “Qualified Quiet,” bragging does not come naturally. Recognizing yourself takes work. To help learn the art of self-promotion, Fineman created the 3 pillars of bragging:

  • Be Proud. Being enthusiastic about your work is often the hardest part. That confidence has to come from within. But like most things, you can fake it until you make it.
  • Be Loud. Be vocal and consistent about your achievements. 
  • Be Strategic. Brag to reinforce your goals and launch your career.

Bragging is finding confidence in your opinions, abilities, and background, and then turning up the volume. The more you practice the easier it becomes. If you’re going to promote yourself, you want to make sure to do it right. Here are some dos and don'ts of bragging.

How Not to Self-Promote:

  • “I hate to brag, but…”
  • “Shameless plug…”
  • “Self-promotion alert…”
  • “Humble brag…”

We’ve all heard these. And it may be tempting to introduce our achievements with a phrase like that. You may think that it is displaying some self-awareness, but it’s really displaying the fact that you’re uncomfortable with your own success. If you’re uncomfortable sharing, your audience can sense that. 

How to Effectively (and Kindly) Self-Promote:

  • “I’m excited to share this project I’ve been working on.”
  • “I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to speak at this conference.”
  • “Check out this blog post I wrote.”
  • “I’ve been working really hard organizing this event.”
  • “Check out the nice things my clients are saying about me.”

When we OWN our stories and success, people will sense that confidence and celebrate with us. As hard as it is to believe, people WANT to see you succeed. Putting aside your fears of speaking up, finding confidence in yourself, and being appropriately vocal about accomplishments will help you excel in your career. When we look inward and recognize the good in ourselves, it will expand the possibilities of what we can accomplish.