Article : The Secret To Self Promotion, by Ross Macpherson :

How to Brag without Bragging: The Secret to Self-Promotion
by Ross Macpherson, President, Career Quest

P.T. Barnum once said, "Without promotion something terrible happens - nothing."

It's true for business, but it's also true for your career. If you are good at what you do and want to be recognized for it, then it's up to you to promote yourself and let the right people know who you are and what you can do. You need to know how to self-promote, how to "brag" professionally.

The trick is that you may feel uncomfortable doing it, and you have to do it without it appearing like you're doing it. Don't want to try it? Well, consider the upside - more interviews, more job offers, more promotions, more high-profile assignments, and more money. Interested?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. "I'm not comfortable bragging", "Bragging is rude and obnoxious", "I hate people who brag." We've all met those annoying blowhards who talk about themselves constantly. Well, that's not the type of bragging I'm talking about. I'm talking about taking ownership for what you can do well, recognizing it, and articulating it to the right people in a comfortable, interesting, and seamless way. It takes finesse and it takes practice, but it can pay off HUGE dividends in your career. And I mean HUGE!

Unfortunately, simply doing a good job at work does not necessarily get you noticed. The people who need to know how well you do your job (those people who can further your career, get you hired, get you promoted) are all too busy juggling their own priorities to worry about yours. You need to be on their radar, and once a year at Performance Evaluation time is not enough. You need to be able to articulate your value at the right opportunities, and do so without sounding obnoxious. It's an ongoing campaign, done with purpose but also done with grace, finesse, and subtlety. In short, it's an art - one well worth learning.

Now, I know this is not an easy concept for everyone, especially if you are naturally introverted or from a culture or background that considers this type of self-promotion offensive, but the fact is that in this market at this time, you need to know how do it - and if it's done well, it can be done in a comfortable and natural way that offends neither you nor your audience.

In her new book "BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It", Peggy Klaus says that good self-promotion doesn't come across as garish or obvious - it sneaks up on people, connects with them, and wins them over without them knowing it. It's as natural as conversation.

Here's an activity that will demonstrate what I mean: Pick a topic you are passionate about - a hobby, an interest, a movie you love, your kids, your favourite food, whatever - and talk about it for 1-2 minutes. Throw in an example if you want - anecdotes make the description come to life. And be sure to say it out loud.

Now, did that feel uncomfortable? Did it come across with genuine enthusiasm, interest, and sincerity? That's exactly the level of comfort and conversational sincerity we're talking about - it's genuine, it's natural, it's conversational, it's said with a smile, and it makes an almost effortless impression.

Example 1:

Situation: I meet someone at a party or networking event and they ask me "So, what do you do?"

What most people might say (if they were me): "I'm a professional resume writer"

What I tend to say is something like this: "Actually, I'm in the marketing business, but probably not in the way you're thinking. My clients are people just like you who are looking to have more successful careers. I'm a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach, so I'll actually write people's resumes and show them how to ace interviews. It's fascinating work really and very rewarding - I get to talk to fascinating people, I get tremendous satisfaction from hearing about their successes, I have articles published all over the Web, my work appears in over 16 books now, and I get to get up in front of people and talk about something that I love and that they want to hear."

It's not a rant, it's not a boring list of accomplishments, and it's not offensive. In a comfortable, natural, and unrehearsed way I've answered the question and done a little valuable self-promotion at the same time.

Example 2:

Situation: You know the boss is starting to work on a special, high-profile project and you hope to be included. You worked on a similar project last year and you'd be an obvious pick.

What you might do: You assume that she remembers last year's project, and so you hope quietly that she'll select you.

What you should do: In a conversation, or in a quick message, say something like "By the way, I heard you're gearing up for the East Asia Project. It sounds amazing and right up my alley. If you remember last year I worked the execution end on the South Asia project, and we have yet to top those results! I'd love a chance to show what I can do on the strategic end."

It's just a little brag bite about the last project success, but it now keeps you in your manager's mind. The key is 1) that you say it, and 2) that it's said in a natural, conversational and genuine way that isn't obtrusive or overly "braggy." It just sounds like you.

Let's Get Started

Step 1:

The first thing you need to do is assemble your arsenal of accomplishments. Klaus calls it a "Brag Bag", your collection of personal and professional accomplishments, interests, and examples that illustrate who you are and what's special about you. Sit down for as long as it takes to brainstorm everything -ask friends, family, and colleagues if you want.

Some examples will be small and others will be more substantial, but get them all down. The big ones can be stories unto themselves and the little ones can be woven into conversations in a multitude of circumstances. Also, be sure to include the kind of details and context that add colour, that bring a story to life.

(If you're having some difficulty you can try using Klaus' "Take 12 Questionnaire" as a guideline at

Step 2:

Sit down and figure out who needs to know about you and what you're doing - your boss, your boss's boss, a different boss in another area, a recruiter, an associate, a vendor , a client - and make it a point to get to know them, and more importantly get them to know you. Find out everything you can about them (the more you know, the more "points of entry" you have for approaching them) and find ways to get on their radar.

REMEMBER: This is an art of subtlety. Don't barge into their office, or insinuate yourself into their company in inappropriate or unprofessional ways. This is an art, not a contact sport!

Step 3:

Practice, practice, practice. Make a concerted effort to learn and practice how to weave your accomplishments and value into conversation. Be at the ready at all times and know how you are contributing TODAY. The worst mistake you can make is to think "I'll get around to this when I have my next job interview." You never know when your next golden opportunity is going to arise - at a meeting, in the elevator with the CEO, etc. - and you need to be ready to make an impression.

Step 4:

Now, get out there and get noticed. Begin your promotional campaign and keep it going. Keep the right people abreast of your value in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them, and they'll listen and take notice.

I can't stress enough that good self-promotion is seamless and sneaks up on people. It's not about reciting a dry list of accomplishment or accolades - it's about weaving your value into conversations with the right people, making certain that you are on their radar and that they know about your value when the next opportunity comes along.

Keep practicing and keep finessing. Like any skill or art, it takes a commitment on your part to perfect. But when you have perfected it, you'll have an immensely powerful tool at your disposal that will help skyrocket your career!

Best of luck!


Ross Macpherson is the Founder and President of Career Quest, a Certified Professional Resume Writer, andprofessional Interview Coach with over 12 years' experience in career development and training. You can reach Ross by emailing him at

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