Closing The Gap

'Modesty isn't always a good thing,' says career expert to women: 5 ways to master the art of bragging

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Alexandra Hraskova | Twenty20

Women have always faced unique challenges in the workplace, particularly when it comes to self-promotion.

According to a 2019 survey of more than 1,000 working women, 84% said they feel uncomfortable talking about professional or academic accomplishments, and more than 69% said they prefer to downplay achievements.

But modesty isn't always a good thing. In fact, it's incredibly helpful to women, especially young women, to shine light on their accomplishments. Not doing so can hold you back at work. If your boss or team members aren't aware of your strong performance, for example, you may get passed over for career opportunities.

Here are six ways to master the art of bragging — and get ahead at work:

1. Tell your story

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from business and marketing expert Seth Godin, who said, "People do not buy goods and services; they buy relations, stories and magic."

Tell the magical story of you — your own unique blend of charisma, skills, experience, and that little something extra that no one else has.

If you need some inspiration, look to those who have mastered personal branding: Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg.

What comes to mind when you think of each of those women? How did they get to where they are? What are the most interesting parts about their stories?

2. Choose a few things you want to be known for by your peers

What do you consider yourself an expert in? Starting side hustles? Accounting? Interior design? Coming up with creative marketing ideas? And it doesn't have to be just one; you can be be knowledgeable about several things.

Give some thought to the topics that most closely align with your skills and strengths, as well as your role at your company. Use this information to create a statement that describes what you have that sets you apart from others.

Your value proposition identifies who you are, what you do and the value you bring to those you interact with.

3. Identify keywords to describe yourself

Come up with at least three or four. This task might be a little more challenging because it's often easier to see and define others more clearly than it is to do for ourselves.

Is it your ability to connect with others, your willingness to go the extra mile, or your unwavering reliability? Several of my keywords, for example, include being personable, supportive, innovative and tenacious.

Focus on what it is about you that will be most appealing to your potential clients or boss. You'll be using these keywords to help describe yourself and your brand over and over again — until it sticks with other people.

4. Craft your elevator pitch

The term "elevator pitch" may be overused, but never underestimate the power of having one in your back pocket. You never know when an opportunity will come up.

A great pitch consists of just three to four sentences. It's a concise summary of your skills, background, vision and what you hope to accomplish. Look to your value proposition, passions and skills for keywords and clues.

Use your pitch when you meet someone new — on an airplane, at a networking event, or (surprise, surprise) in an elevator. It can even come in handy during job interviews!

5. Showcase your capabilities and skills

You've talked the talk, but now it's time to walk the walk. You want to ensure that others know about you, and that you'll be top of mind when they have a need for someone like you.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get creative. How can you get your message out in a way that is unique and attracts attention?
  • Insert yourself. Strategize about where and how you can get into the mix.
  • Specialize. Narrow down the areas that you are most knowledgeable in. Then focus on portraying yourself as an expert in relation to each area by generating related content (i.e., in a blog or on social media) on a regular basis.
  • Be visible. People will never hear about you if you're simply clocking in work hours from behind your computer. Put yourself out there; go to events, even if they're virtual.
  • Enlighten others. Share resources and provide useful ideas to pull people in. Be open about your ideas and spread positivity to captivate and inspire them.
  • Give to receive. Be generous with your skills. The more you give your talent and energy to others, the more you'll build your brand and get support back in return.

Charlene Walters, MBA, PhD is an entrepreneurship coach, career and branding expert and author of "Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur: 10 Mindset Shifts for Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity, and Achieve Financial Success." Follow her on Twitter @CWaltersPhD.

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