Is self-promotion bragging?

Every communicator self promotes. It’s how we get our personal message / brand out there.  But self-promotion isn’t an instinctive behavior. It’s an art form that is cultivated through trial and error. Self-promotion is an important skill to master, because no one likes a braggart.

As children forming into adults, we are taught to be bold, strong and ambitious. We are told to chase our dreams and celebrate our successes. But at the same time we are expected to also be humble, show humility and most importantly not to brag. In this digital age of self-promotion and personal branding; of websites and tweets,  how much is too much? When does self-promotion cross over the line into bragging?

While this is far from a new topic, to me HOW the message is delivered can determine whether it will be received as self-promotion or bragging.  Because in the end, it’s the same message, “I did bla, bla, bla.”  Verbally it can be as simple as how/what words are emphasized. When discussing a recent accomplishment, if the emphasis is always in the “I“, then you’re stepping into bragging territory. “I did this. Or I did that.” Me, me, me.  Bla, bla, bla, I’m so great.

How self-promoting can remain as such can be as easily as mentioning an accomplishment and explaining why it’s a big thing for you. Make it more personal and in my opinion, you’ll look less arrogant. “I’m really proud of the recent project I did because…”  Hey! While we’re at it, here’s a great idea: take an interest in the people you are talking to! Ask them about what they are doing and LISTEN when they reply. Having a great conversation with someone will leave a lasting good impression. If you’re talking AT me and not to me, I’ll remember you alright…

Online self-promotion is tricky because it always begins as a one-sided conversation. You’re putting yourself out there, trying to stand out among the masses. You’re broadcasting your message, initiating interactions and discussions, so by all means toot your own horn now and again to share your successes. But make sure you join the conversation. Take the time to develop relationships, provide insight and opinions. Let your personality shine. If you take the time to be part of the conversation, I will quickly learn on my own how great you are – AND I’ll TELL OTHERS.

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