Self-promotion can be intimidating and many professionals find it difficult to embrace. They fear being seen as presumptuous, egotistic or self-centred, so they simply avoid it. However, in an economy where competition is fierce outside or inside of work, self-promotion can be a life-saving skill if done in a way that’s appealing to others and impactful at the same time.

From early on, we are taught not to talk too much about ourselves. We end up with a negative perception of self-promotion that’s so deep-seated that many will prefer to stay in the dark and risk getting overlooked for promotion. The reality is, we’re less likely to draw attention to ourselves if we don’t take ownership of our success. Only those who undoubtedly take credit for their performances will get to be compensated with golden opportunities.

Here are 3 self-promotion pitfalls every professional should be aware of.

  1. Good people don’t brag

    Many talented people today still fall for this belief that it’s bad to blow your own horn; that it’s too aggressive to promote yourself; that it’s okay to be good at what you do and by all means you can be the best, but never mention it out loud.

    However, the disinclination among professionals to self promote has long-lasting consequences. It can have an effect on referrals, negotiations of work schedule, salary and promotions, as well as develop bitterness when others get ahead of us. 

    We are taught to be modest about our achievements for good reasons. Unfortunately, in this day and age, modesty sometimes will not get you where you want to be if you don’t have the social skills required to talk about your accomplishments and yourself gracefully. I’ve seen many qualified people downplay their strengths instead of being confident and self-assured. 

    When prompted with, “So, tell me about yourself,” many lose their countenance and end up providing a shopping-list kind of response instead of presenting a fuller, more authentic version of themselves.

    We have to learn to present our own characteristics with conviction by using effective body language, a conversational speaking style, a splash of unique personality, and a touch of enthusiasm — the point being that only when we believe in our expertise and our worth will others also believe in us.

  2. We have to learn to present our own characteristics with conviction by using effective body language, a conversational speaking style, a splash of unique personality, and a touch of enthusiasm.

  3. Your performance will testify for you

    Uncertainty and unpredictability are the currency in today’s workplace. But many fail to recognise the importance of self-promotion. It’s paramount to let people know, whether in an interview or in your management team, who you are and what you’re capable of accomplishing.

    People are extremely busy, and countless things demand our attention on a daily basis, so do not expect anybody to just remember you. Focus on building strong, meaningful relationships that impact others and put you on top of their referral list when an opportunity arises.

    Former racing car driver Bobby Unser famously said: “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

    If you want to be successful at self-promotion, you have to come prepared. By ‘preparation’ I mean being ready to face any encounter with a story that reflects your experiences, personality, worth and also makes you stand out. Expect supernatural golden opportunities to come your way, and remember that the only way to meet them with confidence is to be prepared. 

  4. You only need to self-promote during appraisals

    A while ago, I read that the road travelled by lacklustre self-promoters is heavily paved with missed opportunities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are constantly on the move, interacting with people all day and in very different settings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the gym, doing your weekly grocery shop, or on a plane; you never know who you’re talking to and what opportunity you could nail or miss. Always be prepared to show your best self when interacting with strangers.

I remember, when I started my first business 4 years ago, one of my first contracts came through a referral from someone I met at a morning prayer networking meeting — a casual encounter that led to a golden business opportunity.

Done subtly, self-promotion can be a very powerful tool in your success toolbox. You may think that it’s safer to be humble and not make other people feel uncomfortable, but in doing so you not only do a disservice to yourself but to all those who could benefit from your expertise and presence. Although humility is a virtue to be cultivated, it’s crucial to become aware that you are your most valuable commodity.

It’s possible to sell yourself with authenticity and integrity.