There's nothing natural about it. We were taught to be humble, to resist any urge to boast of our accomplishments or relish in the spotlight for fear of getting burned. Don't brag. We all heard these words a time or two growing up and perhaps have even spoken them ourselves if our children find a bit too much pleasure in rubbing a gold star in their sibling's face. Here's the deal -- professional success often hinges on the ability to stand on the rooftop and announce our arrival, experience, and accomplishments. Self-marketing is crucial to continued success and doesn't mean that we're rubbing a gold star in someone's face. Marketing our own talents, skills, and experiences has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else – self-promotion isn't bragging. It's building our brand, portfolio, audience, and/or followers in a way that will help us reach the next level. Because, at the end of the day, we're the only ones responsible for our level of success and, short of hiring a public relations firm, the only option we really have is to get comfortable talking about ourselves and marketing what we've got to offer to this world.
In short – we all need to get over ourselves. Everyone else has.
Some tips for self-marketing (that won't make you feel icky):
Write in the third person
If you feel uncomfortable updating your Linked In profile or other professional database, write your bio in the third person to avoid feeling like you're talking about yourself. Not only does it create the impression that you have a team of people behind you and help avoid the feeling of talking about “me, me, me,” but it lets you see your accomplishments as others see them. Give yourself a pat on the back – you deserve it.
Create separate work-related social media accounts
You'll feel less self-conscious updating the world about your accomplishments if you draw a line between your private and professional life. Use your work-related social media accounts to update followers on your professional progress and leave the party pics for your private account that only friends can see. By creating this separation, you're less likely to feel like you're bragging – work is work, and play is play.
People everywhere work hard and share in the joys and disappointments that go along with a challenging life. Be mindful of which accomplishments are worth sharing publicly and which are more suitable for a chat with mom (always your #1 fan). There's nothing wrong with being proud that you rocked the executive meeting this morning, but highlighting every golden moment will lessen the impact of the big accomplishments and may earn you an eye roll from followers. Self-market, but self-edit.
Get a Professional Headshot
You might love the way your hair looks in the group selfie that you took at your friend's birthday party, but don't crop it and use it as your Linked In profile picture. You may think that you look fun and carefree, but your credibility immediately drops if people suspect you have a wine glass in your hand. Invest in professional headshots; you should have three or four looks to choose from, including a formal option for public speaking engagements (if applicable) or professional directories. Don't worry, you can still get a great hair shot. In fact, photographers can often help coordinate hair and make-up for the photo shoot to make sure you're looking your very best. Sans wine glass.