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8/9/2020 - How to show off your professional accomplishments without turning people off

In this bonus chapter from ‘Brag Better,’ author Meredith Fineman discusses how to approach your job search by walking the balance between showing off your value and coming off as self-promotional.

One day in the future, we will be back to shaking hands and attending in-person meetings in offices filled with coworkers. Until then, we all have to strengthen our ability to communicate our accomplishments and skill sets to our managers, coworkers, clients, and broader audiences without leaving the couch.

 We are in unprecedented, scary, and shaky times. Everyone has their personal filters to navigate news coverage—and you can’t let them forget about you and your work. The stakes are extremely high around your job, your career, and your place in the professional world. You have to be as explicit as possible about why you’re special, what you’re best at, and how you add value. Nobody can acknowledge and celebrate your work until you do.

We—the freelancers, current workers, CEOs, employees tasked with attracting new clients, employees with managers, the unemployed—have to work to, what I call, “Brag Better,” both online and from home. The good news is that you have the tools to do so, but it will be a matter of being clearer and louder about your work than ever before.

The group I refer to as the “Qualified Quiet” are smart people who struggle to talk about themselves, and thus go underestimated or unrecognized. This group spans gender, race, sexual identity, and seniority; each of these factors plays deeply into the difficulties we have with bragging. That said, it’s in your power to increase your influence, starting today.

There are three pillars to “Brag Better”—be loud, proud, and strategic. Loud means repetition, consistency, and a commitment to continually sharing your work without fear. Pride means a conviction that your accomplishments are worth talking about, and they are expressed as factual statements. It’s less anxiety-provoking to talk about your work when you think of it as simply stating facts. Finally, to be strategic, you need to work backward from what you want as a result of bragging better. Is it recognition in the true public sense, like television or speeches? Is it more face time with those in power at your company? Or is it another kind of recognition, such as a raise or a bump in funding?

This is hard work during the best of times, and especially now. Here are some tips to help you nail the content, tone, delivery, and flair for sharing hard work, setting yourself up for a more interconnected and digital bragging future.

Buy the domain of your name. It’s time to start thinking about a personal site, even if it’s just your bio and links to work. You want to own the conversation around you, and that means having your own corner of the internet.

Look at how you are describing yourself online. Is it all consistent? Check your personal website, your company’s website, your social media, and anywhere else you might be writing or contributing.

Ask your boss (even if that boss is you) how to communicate your wins when you’re not in the office. Does your boss like to see a roundup each week? Does he or she want to get on a call? Be sure to brag to his or her style; otherwise, it’s useless.

In this anxious time, you don’t need to aim to “break through” or “win big.” It’s more important to stay consistent and strong.

You are preparing yourself for the new workplace, which might look different, but you will have a handle on all of this. You can begin anywhere, it’s never too early or too late to “brag better,” and your accomplishments—no matter how small you might deem them, probably unfairly so—are worth talking about.

To brag effectively is a difficult muscle to flex, but you can pick up those small weights, start doing reps, and improve your ability to showcase your strengths, thoughtfully, with time.

Meredith Fineman is the founder and CEO of FinePoint, a leadership and professional development company that elevates individuals, from young professionals to CEOs. She is the author of the upcoming book Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion.