I received a career-oriented email recently featuring an article for introverts on overcoming challenges in job seeking and career advancement. Two days later, I attended a regional conference on innovation where a presenter remarked that Midwestern entrepreneurs are generally uncomfortable touting their business ideas to potential investors. The same week, someone I know was asked to write an article for an upcoming magazine. The publisher said it would be great for the person to be able to say he wrote a cover story for an emerging print magazine. The potential author responded it would be cool, but he’d never put it that way since it sounded boastful.
Sharing Personal Accomplishments Can Be Challenging
We’re routinely subjected to over-the-top self promotion, especially via social media channels. Yet these three instances in quick succession suggest there are still many people (maybe all introverts) who find it difficult, even distasteful, to call attention to themselves. This discomfort can be present even when the self-promotion is completely appropriate given one’s personal accomplishments and distinctive talents. I’ve even run across this phenomenon during very open conversations with people who could in no way ever be considered introverts.
While I’m reluctant to contribute to any increase in the self-promotion din, it’s worth sharing a few ideas to help those of you who wrestle with beneficial and appropriate self-promotion. These five ideas can improve your performance in this important skill for career advancement.
Five Ways to Make Sharing Personal Accomplishments Easier
1. Ask others for the words and examples which appropriately describe you.
If you struggle to find the words to talk about yourself in the most positive light, ask someone familiar with your skills and talents to craft a recommendation letter for you. A long-time business partner asked me for a professional recommendation. I wrote a sincere, very favorable letter about the impact he’d had on our business. His comment back to me was, “(This guy) seems to be everything I doubt about myself.” Everything in the letter was true, but it was much easier for me to say these things than it would have ever been for him. If you’re in a comparable situation, a close friend or business confidant may provide all the words and phrases you need to better showcase yourself.
2. Create a daily “smile file” list of your personal accomplishments.
At a recent lunch with former co-workers, there was lots of discussion about what everyone was doing professionally – exciting projects, travel, even looking for new jobs. Lots of discussion – except for one person who was largely silent. He later admitted struggling with anything of comparable interest in his own career to share. If your day-to-day routine doesn’t seem conversation worthy, make yourself create a daily list of accomplishments and noteworthy things you do. How long should the list be? Try as long as your daily to-do list. The discipline of tracking these items allows you to refresh your memory on personal accomplishments over time and makes it easier when updating a resume if you’re looking for a newer job, too.
3. Save nice things people say about you online.
If you’re providing value through your social media interactions and the content you’re creating and sharing, chances are people in your audience are saying favorable things about you. These tweets, comments, and updates can contain words and phrases to incorporate in your own self-vocabulary. Since these comments are crowd sourced, you should feel more comfortable and credible in using them. Favorite or copy the comments into an online file for future reference. If the positive comments are being tweeted, you can actually display them on your blog as an unobtrusive way to share positive comments with a broader audience.
4. Blog about your successes.
One benefit of blogging I’d not anticipated was how my blog has become a personal reference of what I’ve worked on and lessons learned through work assignments. Blogging also offers the opportunity to share personal accomplishments of which you’re proud and that you might want to share with others. Having them captured on your blog provides a convenient and understated way to share personal accomplishments via links in electronic versions of resumes and cover letters as further background.
5. Look at status updates from those prone to self-promotion.
We all have a list of people we know who are inveterate self-promoters through social media. Many of them are completely overboard. Others self-promote but aren’t nearly as egregious about it. If you’re currently blocking these people, start following them and notice what they’re doing. What are they sharing about themselves, both professionally and personally? Examine their social media updates, and ask yourself what you’ve done that’s comparable, different, or even more distinct. This exercise can prompt you to think of analogous situations you might have been downplaying as well as cause you to realize additional personal accomplishments to feature in conversations and in your own social media content.
If you struggle with talking yourself up positively, implement one or two of these ideas. Try them and see what types of results you achieve, while keeping your humility intact. All the while, you’ll do yourself and the world a big favor by representing yourself more favorably and accurately.