Come Blow Your Horn

I blame my mother. I know everyone blames their mother for just about everything, but in this instance, I really do blame my mother. My mother always said I shouldn’t toot my own horn. She said I shouldn’t brag, it made people think I was arrogant. Luckily, I didn’t listen to her! As a result, I learned the value of self-marketing a long time ago. Unfortunately, it’s not a lesson everyone learned.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that even if you never listened to a single other word your mother ever said, you hung on to that little gem of wisdom. It’s the worst advice ever given. If you don’t share your victories, successes, and achievements, who else will? If you don’t blow your own horn, the odds of someone else doing it are slim. And unlike what my mother said, people don’t think I’m boasting or bragging when I share stories of my successes. Instead, they’re impressed; they put their trust in me. I’ve assured them that based on past success, I can handle their problem as well.

As a former executive recruiter, I saw people struggle all the time in interviews, because they felt uncomfortable sharing their accomplishments. They blunted the effect by giving credit to others “on the team.” They were afraid that the interviewer would think they were bragging or taking all the credit when they talked about their greatest achievements. Frequently, I saw jobs go, not to the best candidate, but to the person who could talk most easily about they accomplished in life or work.

Look at your life, right now. What have you lost out on? Have you been passed over for promotions or jobs because you didn’t talk about how well you’ve succeeded in the past? I speak in front of groups all of the time. I talk about how to market companies. But I realize that the bigger issue is teaching people how to market themselves. I’m not saying to stand on your desk and tell everyone in shouting distance how great you are. Focus your efforts on telling the people who matter how great you are. For example, when you finish a project and you’re feeling good about it, take your boss to lunch. Yeah, that’s right, you pay for your boss. While you’re at lunch, share the difficulties and how you overcame them. Express your sense of achievement at doing the job well. Explain how this experience has helped you to grow to take on new and additional challenges. Make sure you let your boss know that you’re ready to take on additional work.

Newton’s first law of motion (Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.) is evident in the workplace every day. Your boss pretty much sees you in a particular role. That role isn’t going to change until some external force is applied. Sharing your successes with your boss can be that external force to move you forward. You may assume that your boss knows what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Generally speaking, nothing can be further from the truth. The only time that can be true is if your boss is micromanaging you, in which case you’re looking for a new job anyway.
So take the opportunity to show people who you really are. Blow your own horn. Tell people what you are capable of achieving. Sharing your successes in the past can pave the way to a great future.

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