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Toot Your Own Horn (Without Sounding Like Kanye)

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I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney, Nike, Google. Now who’s going to be the Medici family and stand up and let me create more? — Kanye West

Yes, that’s a real quote.

Love or hate him, Kanye West is the master of tooting his own horn. Though Kanye may love to talk about all things Kanye-related, his boastful remarks often have the rest of us rolling our eyes and shaking our heads.

True, horn tooting can go wrong. There’s the humblebrag (“It’s so hard for me to write sometimes because I have so many great ideas”) or the boastful third person (“Erin thinks this example perfectly demonstrates boastfully talking about herself in the third person”).

But when done properly, a little self-promotion can go a long way. If you don’t make people aware of your accomplishments, no one else will.

So, how do you demonstrate your worth without sounding arrogant?

Know your value

Becoming successful is much harder if you don’t know what you’re worth. Not knowing the value of your skills could cause you to inadvertently hold yourself back. You don’t want to be an A-player wasting away in a position that’s going nowhere.

It’s equally important to recognize the value of skills you don’t possess. If learning a particular system or tool is in demand in your industry, consider how much more marketable you’d be if you became proficient in it.

Knowing your value isn’t about shouting it from the rooftops or interrupting someone’s award acceptance speech. (Click here to tweet this thought.) It’s about being prepared when an opportunity presents itself. Should a coveted position become available, you want your accomplishments to already be on the radar so you’ll be the first person considered for the job.

Use your relationships

You don’t have to get engaged to a reality TV star to make the most of your relationships. Learning good strategies for relationship building can make it easier to naturally promote your accomplishments.

Determine the stakeholders in your career, learn what their needs and values are and meet those needs. Strengthening your relationships will encourage your network to share your achievements in a more organic way.

People tend to give more when they get more, so be sure to reciprocate. When you praise others and acknowledge their accomplishments, they’re more likely to do the same for you.

You can also try offering something of value to your career stakeholders. Helping them or teaching them something can have a long-lasting impact as they share your advice or teachings with others in their network.

Learn to be confident (or fake it)

Confidence is the real secret to career success. It’s hard to get executive buy-in or new career opportunities if you’re outwardly insecure. People are less likely to want to invest in your career development if you seem unsure of yourself.

If you’re introverted or struggle with self-esteem, don’t worry. Even if you don’t always feel confident, you can still exude confidence to others. Practice speaking in a self-assured manner, making eye contact and working on your body language.

Eliminate phrases like, “it was no big deal” or “I guess so” when it comes to discussing your work. Learn to graciously take a compliment without downplaying your contribution. When in doubt, smile, make eye contact and say, “thank you.”

You don’t have to believe you’re the next Steve Jobs. You just have to know you bring something special to the table. You’re the first you.

And that’s something you and Kanye have in common.

Erin Palmer is a writer and editor who had to learn the hard way how to toot her own horn. She’s been published in The Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post, yet she still gets excited every time she sees her byline. Erin loves to hear from readers, so reach out to her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • jrando421

    Have never trusted anyone who feels the need to self-promote. Either they’re an outright liar,fake and braggart with an inflated ego, or they’re a wannabe who’s trying to be something they aren’t and have no chance of being.

    Let your work stand on its own, and let other people who know and appreciate your work build your reputation. If you can’t do good enough work and deliver results that matter for important things that people need and will notice, no amount of self-promotion will ever convince me you amount to anything but a liar or a wannabe.

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  • Brea Gregor

    I believe that self promotion is important in every aspect of your life. It is best to have a mixture of humbleness and confidence. Great article.

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