The term ‘Brag’ is a negative word. ‘Brag Better’ is here to change that. Bragging Better requires cultivating pride in your work and then taking small actions that help you share it with those around you.
“Bragging Better is about giving yourself credit and getting your megaphone out.”
Brag Better is for the Qualified Quiets.
Are you working too hard on your product and not enough on the presentation? Then like most of the Qualified Quiets, you often make the mistake of focusing only on the ‘work’ You find it difficult to express your amazing abilities and accomplishments. In other words, it’s for 99.9999 percent of us who feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves. It has nothing to do with introversion or extroversion, but your courage to talk about aspects of your life in order to get what you want.
“If you’re a qualified quiet, you have experience and expertise. But you don’t know how to talk about it. You want more than they’re getting, but you’re afraid to say so.”
Are you a Qualified Quiet? Answer this.
You might be a member of the Qualified Quiet, if you answer yes to most of these questions.
“Do you have trouble talking about your accomplishments to others?
“Do you feel icky when you see someone self-promoting themselves?”
“Do you work in STEM where your work isn’t tied to firm correct answers?”
“Do you barf at the thought of giving a presentation?”
“Do you chat all day about how great your friends and colleagues are but when it comes to yourself, you’re silent?”
“Do you have trouble raising your hand in class even when you know the correct answer?”
“Do you expect work to speak for itself?”
“Do you avoid seeking well-deserved credit?”
Invest in your personal and communications strategy.
Getting your name into conversations is crucial to propel yourself forward. You’re far more ready than you think, especially if you’ve spent years and decades working on your craft. Your achievements are worth talking about, but they won’t speak for themselves. You have to.
If you’re a photographer, your clients don’t understand hours and hours you spend painstakingly color-grading every photo to make them look more alive and balanced.
“You can land that job. You can get that raise. You can secure that promotion. You can feel seen. You just need to brag better.”
The Three Pillars of Brag Better
- Be Proud
- Be Loud
- Be Strategic
Pillar #1 Be Proud
Bragging is simply stating facts. You finished a publication. Fact. You contributed on a panel. Fact. You landed a big-name client. Fact. Your brags are based on real events which make them far easier to share.
Pillar #2 Be Loud
‘Loud’ means consistently sharing and advocating for yourself and your work. People don’t know who you are and what you do unless you lay it out. Purposeful volume will get you further than you imagined.
Pillar #2 Be Strategic
Being strategic means saying yes to a few great ideas and no to a thousand good ideas. You have to pick carefully what you want to ‘brag’. Having a clearly defined strategy helps you identify your audience so they can better absorb your message.
Bragging Better: Dos and Don’ts
- Use facts to shine the spotlight on your work.
- Be confident in yourself and your voice.
- Speak up not only when it matters most, also when it helps raise other voices.
- Practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say, online and offline.
- Be specific with your brag.
- Know who you are and how you want to be perceived.
- Make clear requests for others to promote your work.
- Fabricate or exaggerate your work.
- Volume without focus (being loud is useless unless your audience knows what you’re talking about).
- Ask others to promote you without returning the favor.
- Prevent others from shining along with you.
- Use hateful language to bring others down.
- Be negative about yourself.
5 Obstacles to Brag Better
- I feel like a fraud
- What if I sound aggressive or obnoxious
- But I’m introverted
- That’s just not who I am
- That’s not how I was raised
Obstacle #1 I feel like a fraud
Don’t be fooled. Nearly everyone struggles with low self-esteem. Every so often the author thinks if today will be the day she messes up and that people will realize she has no idea what she’s doing.
Solution: Stay in the facts and own your expertise, and see your imposter syndrome disappear.
Obstacle #2 What if I sound aggressive or obnoxious
People, especially, women keep quiet because it’s historically normative behavior. This is all old news. Bragging is worth it for everyone, including women.
Solution: Brag anyway and rise above the people with a certain group of people with preconceived notions.
Obstacle #3 But I’m introverted.
Susan Cain, the renowned author of Quiet, regularly speaks up and speaks out in public settings although she’s an introvert herself. “I meet lots of people (on speaking circuit) and the interesting thing is that by far the majority of them are introverts.”
Solution: Get out there regularly (online and offien) to write and talk about your ideas.
Obstacle #4 That’s just not who I am.
Your past doesn’t stop you from bragging better. Almost everyone has some degree of past trauma. The author was bullied as a kid but she honored that pain in search of her bragging skills.
Solution: Take pride in your past. Remember your past isn’t equal to your future.
Obstacle #5 That’s not how I was raised.
Having parents who are quiet or shy can make you feel anxious about bragging better. The military in particular upholds collectivist values, encouraging individuals to sacrifice themselves for the country. The focus is on the group rather than on the individual.
Solution: Accept that your past cannot be shoved away. So empathize, shine and move forward.
Self-deprecate but don’t undercut yourself.
Verbally undercutting yourself transfers negativity to your audience. It sounds like this:
- I hate to brag but…
- Shameless self promotion
- Brag alert
- Plugging myself
Consider the following replacements:
- I’d love for you to read this article I wrote.
- Please share this post I wrote on my industry.
- I’d be so grateful If you watched my most recent TV segment.
- Check out this video from a panel I was on. I had a blast.
See the huge difference between self-deprecation and verbal undercut? The first is purposefully poking fun at yourself while the latter hurts you putting yourself down without any humor or levity. Here are some examples of verbal undercut:
- You know me. I can’t ever get anything on time.
- I’m glad you liked my work on the project. But we all know it was really Sarah who did the best job.
- I hate to be so in your face or whatever, but I run a division of a nonprofit that just saw the highest growth in decades.
Here are possible replacements using self-deprecation:
- Even in college I was always the last one to turn in a paper.
- I loved this project and proud of the outcome, despite Sarah out here making us all look bad with her PowerPoint skills.
- I run a division of a nonprofit that just saw its highest growth in a decade. Modest, but true.
Write Three Types of Bio
Your long bio should be about a page long and can be placed under your LinkedIn introduction, your personal website “About Me” tab or wherever you have the freedom to talk about you.
Your short bio is about a trimmed version of your long bio. It works for a presentation or a conference.
Yoru two-line bio is the most succinct description of who you are. It can be difficult to express you in just two lines but it gives someone a chance to be able to tell quickly and consistently about what you do. Your two-line bio goes in all of your social media and any article you write.
All your bios must be consistent at all times. They all need to complement one another to be a strong part of building that mosaic of who you are.
Get a Headshot
You need a headshot every time you cut your hair or change your appearance noticeably in some way. The author suggests you take headshots every two years. Wear some solid colors with minimal jewelry. Spend on hair and make up (if it makes you feel good).
Invest in a Personal Website
Your personal website is the only place online where you have absolute control. Even on social media, your control is somewhat limited. Your website on the contrary is the one-stop shop for you. Plus, it’s fun!
When Bragging Isn’t Effective
- When you’re tired – your audience can feel the lack of energy
- You need time to read the room
- People are already sold
Your Blueprint to Brag Better
- Revise your resume.
- Accurately list your previous work history.
- Describe what you did with positive, strong language.
- List your awards and accomplishments.
- Revise or write your bios.
- Create three types of bios.
- Remove hobbies, playful references and creative titles.
- Include hyperlinks.
- Don’t use weak verbs or passive voice.
- Use your last name, not your first.
- INcludes calls to action.
- Buy the domain of your name.
- Build a basic website using easy-to-use platforms.
- Check your Google search results regularly.
- Set a Google alert for your name.
- Create your branded email address.
- Review your email signature.
- Choose three types of people and three types of intro for each.
- Practice introducing yourself to someone above you.
- Practice introducing yourself to a peer.
- Craft a pitch document for yourself.
- Make sure your headshots are up-to-date.
- Get new business cards.
- Make a list of dream panels and places you want to speak.
- Make it clear you want to get booked by telling people on your site.
One last thing…
When someone is well-known, we have this odd idea that we are somehow close to that person. But because you’ve consumed every piece of content from Mariah Carey doesn’t mean you truly know her. You know a version of her, but the only version she presents for public consumption.
And when we spend time with people in public, it can make us feel that sometimes you owe the public something. Take for example, when the author asked for a photo with Natalie Portman, her hero, and when she was told ‘no’, she strongly disliked her for years. Many years later, she realized Portman didn’t owe her a thing.
It’s the same for you. Just because you’re in limelight doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone. Not all two cents or voices deserve your time or attention. If someone’s opinion of you is unfounded, be willing to move past it. Be courageous. Courteous and just keep moving.