I recently read a post on Shondaland.com, titled ‘how to brag’. It is a post written by Meredith Fineman, Founder & CEO of FinePoint – A PR & Communications agency dedicated to promoting people and teaching women to brag and self-promote.  This topic fits in well with the theme for the November Future Female blog which is all about “influence”, how to build it and use it.  So I thought about sharing what I read.

I am not sure if you can relate, but I sometimes have a problem talking about my accomplishments, and until I read the post, I thought it was just a ‘me’ thing but apparently it’s normal, especially amongst women. Being a mother, wife and homemaker is still a divine mission assigned to us, and there are still people who judge women for daring to be anything else. Jessi L Smith, a psychology professor at Montana State University did a study where she found that gender roles can make women more reluctant to discuss their accomplishments.

I am not sure if it is because of gender roles, but I always fear overselling my accomplishments to others, “who’s to say what’s great to me will be great to someone else?” I tell myself. Then I convince myself that by not talking about it, I am being modest or humble and that’s a good trait to have right? Or I talk about my accomplishments in a diminishing manner, by saying things like “it’s no big deal just a small business I started” or “I have over 4 years’ experience in building leading brands such as Johnnie Walker but probably nothing major”.

Fineman calls it the “shameless self-promotion alert”, when we say things like “I hate to brag but…” we are basically saying “I accomplished something, but I feel like a dick for talking about it. Therefore I’m going to insult myself before you can” she says. But by doing this you are putting yourself at a disadvantage, because you cannot expect someone else to promote or support you if you don’t do it yourself. As Fineman puts it, if you do not feel good about what you are doing, how do you expect someone else to? I am not saying go out there and start being boastful or condescending about your accomplishments, but do not be shy about giving yourself credit, and there is a way to do it without sounding condescending.

The right way to self-promote and brag

Nobody likes a show-off, which is why you will not be showing off; instead you will be talking about your accomplishments, big or small, in a very confident way. So instead of saying “I hate to brag but…” Fineman advises, you can say “I’m really proud of this article I wrote for The New York Times, I would love it if you gave it a share or sent me feedback”. Not only are you talking positively about something you did but you are also asking for constructive feedback which can help you improve, because let’s face it, no matter how great your accomplishments, there is always room for improvement.

A networking event provides a perfect opportunity for you to self-promote. However, it is a good idea for you think about your pitch or your introduction to others.  According to Fineman, a firm handshake, eye contact or tone of voice can really be helpful, but on top of that, make sure you really get into the specifics when you talk about projects you are working on; instead of saying “I work for x company” say “I run marketing at x company and I manage a team of seven. I’m currently working on a project for our new product, x. It’s really exciting, here’s my card.” Fineman adds “…whether you passionately swept the floors at an internship or rang the opening bell at the NYSE, that passion translates and will get other people excited about you, too”. It is not so much about the message but the way you deliver it, that can make a huge difference.  

What are you putting out there?

So, you are talking about your accomplishments at every networking event, giving people your cards and wowing them with passion and confidence in the work you are doing. Now they want to learn more about you, your work, your company, your product or brand. What information about you is out there? On Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or your personal website, does it match what you say about yourself and your accomplishments? Fineman says that your various social media profiles should match and tell people exactly who you are, so use your social media bio space to brag about your accomplishments, say what you have done and do so proudly, LinkedIn is especially good for this.

According to Fineman, email signatures are also a good place for bragging, put a link to your company or personal website if you have one. Every email you send is an opportunity for you to get your accomplishments out there and talk about the work you are doing.

Keep looking for opportunities to get your work out there and win over the support of others, after all you cannot be influential without supporters.

Additional reading content:

How to brag

Why It’s Harder For Women To ‘Brag’ About Themselves At Work — And Why We Really Need To

Bragging rights: MSU study shows that interventions help women’s reluctance to discuss accomplishments

Belvana Abeli
Belvana is the founder of Belvani Hair in Cape Town. She has a passion for seeing women thrive, be it as professionals, business owners, or just on a day to day basis; Belvana believes that her products give women the confidence they need to thrive. She also believes in women empowerment and is looking for more opportunities to collaborate, and believes Future Females gives her the opportunity to do so. Her hobbies include reading, movies and music, and creating content for social media.