Do you remember that kid in high school? You know, the one who could always BS an answer to any question with confidence when he was called on, even though you knew he wasn’t up all night studying like you were? Or have you ever sat in a meeting, watching someone talk and talk, and thinking, “This person is full of hot air”—only to see them rise to the top of the company leadership team? How about watching someone on Instagram brag about their bestselling book, where they conveniently leave out that it was in the micro-est of micro categories on Amazon—and yet, they secure a big speaking gig and are touted as a “nationwide bestseller”? I, like many people, have learned the hard way that the people who do the best work are not always the people who are the most successful.
Throughout the years, I’ve come to realize that talking about your work is a huge part of doing the work. It’s a different muscle you have to learn to flex, but it’s just as important as any of the other aspects of your job.
In fact, it’s so important that there’s an entire book about it: Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion by Meredith Fineman.
Especially as women, talking about our accomplishments often feels scary or icky, because we’re worried people will think we’re “obnoxious.” It often feels more natural to just put our heads down and do the work. But, in her book, Fineman makes clear that learning to brag about ourselves doesn’t require false bravado, talking over people, or pretending to be more qualified than we are. Instead, she encourages finding quiet confidence in your opinions, abilities, and background, and then turning up the volume.
Ready to be your own biggest fan? Take a look at these tips, which will help you be more comfortable with—and succeed at—talking about your accomplishments.
1. Start small.
It’s not about moving mountains. You can start small, and start anywhere. You don’t need a massive audience—it can be as simple as calling a friend to tell them about something you said in a meeting that you’re proud of. Another simple way to start is to eliminate words that undermine your work. For example, your bio might say you’re “trying” or “attempting” to do something. Instead, say that you are doing it.
2. Be very, very clear.
We walk around all day thinking everyone knows what we’ve done, and the truth is, they have no idea. They’re focused on themselves (as are you!), and they’ll never know until you brag to them. And during crazy times like these, when everyone is stressed and navigating the waters of a completely new normal, everyone is focused on the basics. So, you have to be extremely clear, concise, and explicit when telling people what you’re up to.
3. Show and tell.
Sometimes, we need support when we learn how to talk about our accomplishments. It’s why creatives have portfolios, why entrepreneurs have decks, why aspiring college athletes have recruiting videos. Be prepared with something to send that shows what you’ve done. Even if it’s something in your email signature or on your business card, using a support when first learning to talk about yourself helps.
Speaking of bragging, I’ll take a stab at it now. I’m really proud of how my own company, Likeable, has evolved through the years. We entered the social media space way back when social media marketing barely existed, and we’ve grown with the industry for over a decade. In 2007, social media management was mostly engaging in online communities, while in 2020, it is so much more.
This reel shows content that was all filmed by us, with a little bit about what we do. Check it out—and as always, if you know a brand that needs social media help, feel free to connect me.