I mentioned, quite awhile ago, that I was reading a book called Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It. (affil link). I read it quickly a couple of months ago, but then went through it again more carefully.
I’m in the process of starting my own business (more on that tomorrow!), and self-promotion has never been one of my strong suits. I’m trying to get better so I bought three books from Amazon about self-promotion. I’ll talk more about Brag in a minute, but first I want to tell you about one of the other books I bought.
Last week, I started Make A Name For Yourself (notice I’m not linking to it). And I stopped reading on page 28. Because there, in a list of attributes “prized” in the workplace was the word extroversion. And introversion was nowhere to be seen. I kept scanning the short list over and over, thinking I must be missing it. So I stopped reading it then and there. The author clearly has a bias against introverts and therefore I can’t rely on her judgment on other statements she makes. Since I couldn’t bear to throw the book away (and it’s too late to return it), I’ll sell it at a garage sale or donate it. Don’t buy it or read it.
But back to Brag: It’s excellent! The author, Peggy Klaus, does a great job of helping her readers understand why self-promotion is important and how to do it in a way that’s authentic for you. What I really liked is that she’s trying to reframe how we think about “bragging” — in much the same way that I’m trying to reframe how people perceive introverts. Bragging isn’t an issue with two extremes; there’s a happy middle ground that everyone can find.
There were two concepts that came through loud and clear: Be prepared and be yourself. Klaus notes that we are never taught how to promote ourselves (so no wonder we often find it difficult) and suggests that bragging is become more of who you are. It’s about how you talk about yourself.
On more than one occasion, Klaus mentions introverts. At one point, she says, “Being an introvert won’t get you noticed.” And she’s right! Since we’re so quiet and often excel in the workplace, we tend to believe that the work we do speaks for itself. But it doesn’t. So get over the idea that you can’t promote your self and your skills.
There are a few things you’ll need to do that tend to be more difficult for introverts — but only if you’re not prepared:
- Idle chat — Yes, we find it an enormous drain of energy, but in some circumstances it will be necessary. Know that it’s temporary and think about the fact that it’s a step in moving yourself toward something you want.
- Networking — Klaus suggests acknowledging the elephant in the room: I don’t know anyone! Trying to ignore that won’t help the situation. Be prepared and again, remember that it’s temporary.
- Take the temperature of the room — Sometimes this can be difficult for introverts. I know I tend to insulate myself against input when I’m in a potentially overwhelming situation. I focus on only what’s necessary for the task at hand and automatically filter everything else out. But that can backfire. Try to determine if your audience is tired, happy, bored, etc. That will help frame what you’re going to say.
- Non-verbal communication — (yours, not your audience’s). If I had a nickel for every time someone suggested to me that I was bored, angry or distant based on my body language, I would be rich! Again, because I’m so focused on taking in data, the part of my brain that regulates my body language is just too busy. I noticed when I did my first video post a few months ago that I rarely smiled while talking. So — smile, make eye contact, dress the part.
I really can’t recommend this book enough. There are tons of examples from the author’s clients and a great set of questions to help you create your own “brag bag.”
Any other good tips or resources for self-promotion? Let’s hear ’em!