Toot your own horn – Would you?

It is true that canons like modesty, humility, etc. are drilled into our head from infancy, and probably most of us were taught one common golden rule early on in life: Don’t toot your own horn. While it was an undoubtedly virtue, it contradicts the qualities necessary to succeed in the corporate world. I debunk this rule now.

The harsh reality of todays workplace and career management in general is that you cannot rely on others to keep a watchful eye over your career – they are too concerned with their own and after all you know yourself best and what you are good at. In today’s corporate market, competition is fierce, as people try to out do each other to get ahead. There are many techniques, but not every one is effective. Finding the right marketing technique to sell your skills is crucial. Survival is only for the fittest, ain’t it?

Most of us don’t put our best foot forward, out of a desire not to seem like braggarts. In the process, we look worse than we really are . . . and no one really cares. It’s one of those dreaded moments. Careers, relationships and opportunities languish as a result.

Here I am after spending 11 years in corporate world, still dreading having to brag. I came from the old school of thought – I waited for my hard work and results to get noticed…waited until my performance review to let my boss know why I am great at what I do…succumbed to the peer pressure against ‘kissing up to the boss’ – Who cares what they think? I should have put myself out there! Boom, appraisal declared and I was told what I should have done to achieve that extra 1 point to get closer to promotion. But, I was working what I should have done. All in vain. Now, I have to wait until next year…another  365 days to showcase my worthiness.

Lesson Learnt: Self-effacement will not get us where we need to go. One doesn’t want to be obnoxious, either, but we need to understand the essential differences.

So what is bragging? Or rather, when is bragging bragging and when is it taking advantage of opportunities?

As aptly said by an executive career coach, Loribeth Dalton, “The most qualified person never gets hired, the most qualified person never gets promoted. It is the person who can toot their own horn without blowing it that gets hired and promoted!” We should turn ourself into an interesting and relevant brief story for those you meet..at the right time and appropriate moment to make ourself outshine the competition. That doesn’t mean, however, that you do it all the time or that you do it at inappropriate times or places. You do it when it feels comfortable. You need to promote gracefully rather than just brag. Especially if your story is humorous or enlightening, it will be a fire way of being remembered by others.

I am slightly inhibited about self-promotion. It has held me back from being able to talk about myself and my accomplishments – skills that were/are critical to achieving most of my professional goals. Nobody like busting their butt and then being a scapegoat if things go bad, but if your work and ideas are incredible someone steps in and takes the credit. Nobody is going to prepare, market, sell, and promote you as well as you.

I have to overcome my hang-ups about talking about myself so I can promote my skills and accomplishments and achieve all of my professional goals. I need to learn how to capitalize on being myself while making the most of my accomplishments, to effectively throw a reference to one of my achievements into everyday conversations without sounding phony or unnatural, to brag in the 21st century when many people work virtually, face time is limited and technology is being put to use in new ways every day, learn to push the envelope, but you’ll also get to jump around and scream and shout a little.

Remember, “success is when preparation and luck come together”. Tooting is an important step of preparation. Back up your ‘style with substance’ – you could be an excellent self promoter, but if you don’t really pack the punch…you’ll be all washed up. You will be glad you did.

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