Graceful Self-Promotion

We all know that one person at work — you know, the self-centered, annoyingly successful, blowhard who takes every opportunity to brag about his own work. “Did you hear that I landed the Boothman account? Yessssssss!!”

Ugh. (Insert eye roll here.)

Meanwhile, you keep your head down and work hard, holding fast to the belief that your work should speak for itself, and when it does, you'll get the recognition you deserve.

Let’s do a reality check here. Is this approach reeeeeally working for you?

Most of us aren’t great at self-promotion. But quite honestly, you're not doing yourself any favors by keeping quiet or playing small. Like it or not, promoting yourself at work is crucial, and your success depends on it.

In its most simplistic form, self-promoting comes down to this: You let your co-workers and your bosses know what you do, what you excel in, and what you accomplish in your job.

But if you're not sure how to start, I’m excited to share some tips to help you promote yourself at work without annoying your entire office.


Take the shame out of self-promotion

If the very idea of self-promotion makes you cringe, you need a different approach. Self-promotion gets a bad rap because it can come across as bragging. But it doesn't have to be like that. In fact, self-promotion can be done gracefully, and in a way that brings attention to the quality of your work without being viewed as obnoxious or self-serving.

First, accept the idea of self-promotion as being a necessary task at work. It’s a tool, and you use it to help you reach your next level of success. If you can wrap your brain around this concept, you're half way there because mindset is everything.

Secondly, you are an essential brand — you may be amazing, but if you don't advertise to the right crowd, no one will know why you’re so great. If you don’t find a way to speak about the value of what you’re doing, you send a message that you don’t put much value on it. And if you don’t value it, why should anyone else?

How is that for a truth-bomb?

Lastly, your boss has his or her own responsibilities to handle, and simply can't see everything that goes on. When taking this into consideration, you're not bragging, you're simply keeping your boss informed.


Understand what you bring to the table

Begin by taking an inventory of what it is that you do best. Don't be shy. Start tracking any and all work accomplishments throughout the year, from successful project completions to awards and recognition. Here are a few questions and ideas to get you started?

  • Are you an awesome connector? It's not always what you know, it's who you know.
  • Do you actively promote what your division is doing? How and with whom?
  • Do you excel at training new employees?
  • Have you developed new methods or processes? Did it save time/money/resources?
  • Are you a charismatic public speaker? This is gold.
  • What successful projects have you worked on? What part did you play in its success?
  • Note any challenging scenarios with positive results, including the path you took for resolution.
  • Are you on a board of a club or organization? This shows leadership and initiative.
  • Have you won an award? Awards show value as well as what others see in you - social proof!


Claiming your achievements

Now it’s time to let your boss and colleagues know just how much you contribute.  Here, you’re looking for the nuance in situations, so you can find that graceful middle ground between being a shrinking violet and a shameless braggart.

Here are two ways to accomplish this:

1. Use your casual conversations at work to share what you’ve accomplished, what you are working on, AND THEN ask for ideas about how you can strengthen your skills and your position to better prepare for opportunities ahead. This approach gives you the space to demonstrate your value, and still come across as being humble and relatable. And by asking for their advice, you're building allies.

2. Move the focus from yourself to the successful projects you've recently been a part of. This not only provides updates at team meetings, but gives you the perfect opportunity to comment on the success of your projects. You'll likely to come across as a team player, and your part in it will be clearly known. 

Using these two methods of self-promotion will help keep you top of mind, and that's right where we want you. Because you're more likely to come up in conversations where they’re discussing opportunities, considering who to place on projects, and who to advance.


Perfect your elevator pitch

Ever have an opportunity to talk about what you do, and then say nothing? 

(Oh, yeah...been there, done that.)

To avoid that from happening again and letting golden opportunities slide by, try this: Knuckle down on your elevator pitch. You want to have a clear, succinct statement ready to deliver at any moment.

Your elevator pitch consists of what you do now, but also emphasizes what you want to do in the future and why you’re qualified to do it.

Why? Because it gives you a huge advantage in terms of visibility and positioning. Secondly, it sets you apart from the competition and enables you to make a case for yourself when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Having your pitch ready to go shows you’re ambitious, and that you’re focused on something specific that you’re working to achieve.
  • It gives you an opportunity to talk about your skills or background in a way that aligns with what could be useful to the organization.
  • It provides you the opportunity to show that you’re thoughtful, reflective, and can get to the point quickly. (Don’t underestimate the importance of this last point. Executives who are pressed for time view this as a strength.)

Here’s my final thought on self-promotion. People won’t know the full value of what we’re doing unless we tell them. It’s time to unhook these feelings of shame and awkwardness from the act of sharing our accomplishments.

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

  1. If you’ve ever held yourself back from sharing an accomplishment, what was the specific fear or concern that stopped you?
  1. When it comes to self-promotion — which idea do you most need to remember, and why? 

Leave a comment below and let me know. Your story may just be what someone else needs to have a breakthrough.

P.S. Know someone who cringes at the thought of self-promotion? Share this article with anyone you think could use a little extra support.

With so much appreciation,






50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.