A certain discount store has been running a television ad focused on bragging about the bargain buys women were able to find. The message hasn’t sent me shopping, but it did make me think about bragging.
Some of my clients, particularly women, have told me that they find it difficult to write about themselves and their businesses because it feels like bragging. I don’t know if men have trouble with this, but many women have been raised with the idea that bragging is improper, and it is better to sit quietly in the background and let others shine.
This attitude doesn’t work well in business, where your challenge is to tell the world what makes your business better than your competitors. It is also a problem if you are looking for work. The purpose of your resume is to let employers know what makes you the best prospect for the job at hand.
How can we learn to brag effectively?
• Show, don’t tell. This is advice frequently given to writers. Think about a typical mystery movie. Aren’t you more interested in watching a dramatization of what happened than in hearing the detective sum it up for the assembled suspects? In business writing, this means that instead of saying, “We make the best widgets,” you say, “Our widgets are computer-designed and outperform other brands by 60 percent.” List the properties that make them so good, and how they outperform all other widgets.
• Concentrate on the benefits. What you particularly want to show is how your product or service will benefit your audience. Focus on how it will help them solve their problems.
• Be passionate. If you reveal your passion for what you do, it will become obvious that you are probably good at it.
• Be appropriate. There is a time for everything, and conversely, there is a wrong time for everything. Do your bragging on your website and your LinkedIn profile, or during your introduction at a business meeting. A party or a backyard picnic, or even a chamber of commerce mixer, might not be the right time and place.
• Listen as well as talk. Don’t just talk about your product or service, let the other half of your conversation do the same — and listen to him or her. This helps you build a relationship, and it’s good for business.
• Let others talk for you. Perhaps the best way to brag is through testimonials from people who have used your services in the past and who like what you do.
Get over the idea that you shouldn’t brag. You are good at what you do. Don’t be afraid to let the world know.