Does Self Promotion Make You Uncomfortable? Ten Ways to Get Better at it Without Sounding Like a Tool.

Here’s the deal folks, the clearer you are about who you are and what you want, the easier it is for people to say yes.

I think I heard no less than seven people tell me how much they hated promoting themselves. Here’s the problem. They were all looking for a job, and at some point in the job acquisition process, they’ll need to be able to explain to people why they’re uniquely awesome.

So how does one get better at self-promotion without being icky about it? And more importantly, get so comfortable with talking about yourself that when the stakes are high (the job interview itself), you’re confident in your delivery.

START SMALL.

I’ve listed ten different exercises below that will help you get more comfortable in promoting yourself and create some insight for you along the way. You don’t need to go crazy. Just try one of the exercises per week. Ten weeks later, and I’m 100% confident, you’ll feel more comfortable talking about yourself.

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  1. Amplify other people. When you’re introducing someone through email or in-person (virtual or otherwise), go the extra mile, and instead of saying their name, add a little amplification. E.G., This is Rachel Francine; she’s an expert in the preferrable future.

  2. Take your resume through a future focus review. Take your resume (yes, even if you haven’t updated it yet) and on a separate piece of paper write down for each role, what you could do now that you couldn’t do before you had the job. What you should have at the end is a nice long list of things you could do rather than something you’ve done. You’re hired based on what you’re going to do in the future. Right?

  3. Connect with someone new on LinkedIn. Connections can be virtual. But it’s just an invitation if you forget to tell your potential connection why you want to connect with them. Take the extra step and add a note with your request explaining why you want to connect with them and why they might want to connect with you. Here’s the bonus to taking this approach: You, and the person you connect with, will have a reminder thread in the messaging section of LinkedIn of how and why you connected with them. I know I appreciate this detail.

  4. Identify your career adventures. You know how you’ve had moments in your career when work felt a bit like an adventure? Those moments when you were learning new things, the teamwork just seemed hum; the project was going to make a tangible difference? Take a look at your past (and I’m not just talking about your career) and identify the moments when you felt like you were on an adventure. What new lessons did you learn? Why was the team working so well? What was it about the project that kept you all so engaged? These are the stories people want to hear when they ask you about your experiences. It’s in these stories that a hiring manager can hear your potential to help them solve problems in the future.

  5. Beta Test Tag Lines in your email signature. I do this all the time. I, too, struggle with explaining to people what I do. So before I say it out loud, I pop it in my email signature for a while. Does everyone read it and comment? No, but some do. And what they have to say is always insightful. And like a beta-test, I swap them out once in a while to see how people react. Today my signature reads: “Your value is based on what you’re going to do tomorrow. Have you identified, articulated, and amplified your future you?” by the end of the day, it’s going to say, “I identify what’s good in you and make it easier for other people to understand.” In both cases, I’m trying to help you understand how I think as much as who I am and what I do. What would you write?

  6. Ask someone else to tell you what makes you unique. This next exercise takes a little courage and a little tenacity. Who’s the best person to help you learn how to talk about how awesome you are? Someone who already knows you. So why not ask them? But don’t let them off the hook with a boring answer, eg. “You’re great at getting things done.” Ask them for details, ask them for stories. Protip on this one – keep this question to colleagues and people you’ve worked with professionally.

  7. Share something you’ve read on Twitter or LinkedIn. Liking an article is good; commenting on an article is better; sharing an article with the people who follow you is best. Sharing points of view on topics where you’re curious or an expert helps the people following you get a preview into what you’re thinking. Plus, bonus points, it’s likely that you’re amplifying someone else.

  8. Practice Out Loud. I was listening to an interview with Glennon Doyle the other day. The host was commenting about her amazing speaking style and how natural and authentic it sounded. Glennon then confessed that not only had she memorized every word of the talk she’d given but every pause, every intonation, every sound that would come out of her mouth. Her job, she explained, was to make every moment perfect for the audience. Do you need to be this prepared so you can be natural and engaging when you speak to someone? Maybe. Do you want to wait until you’re in front of someone for the first time to say what you’re going to say out loud? I don’t think so. So practice what you’re going to say out loud, preferably to other people—worried about feedback? Just tell them you’re practicing saying it out loud and not looking for feedback.

  9. Write down the value of your gift. We all have a gift. What I find endlessly fascinating is that we ALL think that gift isn’t that big of a deal. Some of this NBD attitude is due to this phenomenon called adaptive perception, and some of it is because we’re all taught it’s rude to brag. The thing is the other lesson we’re all taught is that it’s the giving of gifts, not the receiving, that makes the difference. To overcome the attitude and focus on generosity, take a moment, and write down all the fantastic things that would happen if you gave your gift to as many people and projects as possible.

  10. Document the results of the nine exercises above. If you’re planning to follow my advice and tick off one of these exercises every week, then you’ll be finished in a little over two months. Do you remember what you were thinking about and how you were feeling two months ago? Probably not. Change, especially when it’s our own, often feels imperceptible. But it’s the combination of momentum and results that keep us going in the face of obstacles. So why not write down both what you did and what happened during this nine-week adventure? I’ll do one better and even up the stakes. If you email us proof (and yes, we’ll want proof – just saying “I did it!” won’t be enough. What constitutes proof? Show your work. We want to see it. You can figure that out right?) that you’ve completed each task, we’ll put your name into the hat for a free one-on-one session with me.

The only thing left for you to do is to choose your adventure. Are you going to stay on the path you’re on right now and see what happens? Or are you going to choose this path I’ve laid out before you?

Because here’s my last idea to share with you. The whole concept of a “career path” is bogus. There isn’t a person I know who hasn’t had all sorts of pivots and adjustments along the way. Life, as we all know, is never that clear and predictable.

I think we’re all on an adventure. A perpetual adventure if you think about it. So how are you going to step into yours?

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