Love them or hate them, networking events and other professional mingling situations are prime times to make some excellent business connections. They're also the exact right place to talk yourself up a bit. After all, if you don't brag about you, who will?
Done right, the way you talk about who you are, what you do and what you've accomplished will help you stand out as someone worth coming back to. Done wrong? You risk being that woman with the remarkable ability to bring any subject back to her and how good she is at just about everything.
We've all met that woman, more than once (and once was more than enough). Don't be her. Follow these examples to brag about yourself the right way, and make the connections (and even get the job) you really deserve.
What is bragging?
Bragging is talking yourself up, especially publicly. It can definitely be justified, especially after achieving something particularly difficult, and simply be a part of celebrating your success. Bragging too often, though, comes off as a constant need to enhance your personal/social/professional image by saying how great you are at this or how clearly experienced you are with that. Braggarts — those certified self-promoters — inevitably get a reputation as being either cocky and aggressive or boring and inauthentic. Either way? Definitely self-centered and more than a little insecure.
Why you should learn how to brag.
No, you don't want to be the "Hey look at me, how awesome am I?" person. But you do want to be able to show your worth when the situation calls for a bit of healthy self-promotion. Confidence in and comfort with your abilities are solid qualities for any employee to have. Hiring managers immediately tune into that solid sense of self, if only you can figure out how to express your high points without sounding arrogant. So, how do you do that?
It's all about the sales pitch. Whether you're in an interview, at one of those networking events or just talking to your boss about spearheading a new project, you need to be able to present what you've done and how hard you've worked in a way that shows your value to that other person. Don't push and go for the hard sell. Focus on how your track record will serve them, help a project run more smoothly and get the company better results. Because bragging is about you, yes, but bragging done right is all about what you can do for whoever you're bragging to. Talk yourself up with a service-oriented mindset and you can't go wrong.
9 examples of bragging done right.
1. Keep an attitude of gratitude.
"I was chosen to lead a team of a dozen people for this campaign. I'm so grateful for that opportunity."
You've worked hard to get where you are in your field, industry or area of expertise. Go ahead and let that show, and don't be afraid to drop a few names or a couple of key accomplishments into a relevant conversation. Those are brags worth bragging. However, finding a way to brag in a manner that shows you're still stoked to be able to do what you love or work with the kind of clients you have also gives you an air of humility. You know you've earned it, but you're still grateful for the opportunities you now have.
2. Be honest about your effort.
"Thank you! I worked really hard to get here."
Beware the humblebrag! Downplaying a compliment by denying how much effort you put into something can work against you. Rather than sounding super talented and so good at what you do that you barely have to try, you can sound arrogant. Own your effort and how much of yourself you put into the things you've done in a way that's simple and honest. People respect the hustle when they know the hustle is real.
3. Include others in your success.
"My team and I... "
A confident person isn't afraid to share her brag and makes sure to give credit anywhere it's due. No one wants to work with someone who's so concerned about her own image that she always pulls the limelight a little further onto herself than anybody else. Note that you wouldn't have been able to do what you did without the benefit of someone else's help, and show off a healthy degree of maturity alongside your other abilities.
4. Only compare yourself to yourself.
"I've exceeded my own projected sales for the last three quarters in a row."
Saying the above is plenty. There's no need to drag in your coworkers and how you simply demolished their own sales. If you've lead the way, by all means note it, but do so in a way that highlights how hard you worked and not how poorly someone else performed. Boosting your own image at the expense of someone else's, regardless of whether or not the person you're talking to and the one you're talking about will ever meet, is in very poor taste.
5. Don't exaggerate.
"My company has been setting industry standards for a decade. Our record speaks for itself."
If that's the case, then let it speak for itself. List your accomplishments examples plainly, without inflation. You're not really "the best ever," so why would you say so? Hyping yourself up too much won't serve you very well in the end. When it comes time to prove yourself, you'll likely fall far short of the high mark you set in conversation. If you even get the chance to try, that is. Most folks just aren't going to be fooled by your hyperbole.
6. Be glad to share.
"Thanks for asking! I'd love to talk about what I've been working on."
You like what you do, right? You're proud of what you've accomplished and confident in the abilities that got you there. So don't try to brush the subject of those accomplishments or your current work away when someone asks about them. Showing a willingness to engage is also a display of genuine enthusiasm. Being excited about what you do will help other people get excited — and maybe even get involved.
7. Keep it simple.
"I have over a decade of experience working in this field and half a dozen sales awards."
No need to drone on. Just state the facts: note your experience and what you've achieved, and then let it be. One of the keys to bragging about yourself is brevity. Knowing when to stop talking is a social life skill that becomes doubly important in professional situations. Don't dominate a conversation. Note what you want to note, and then let the talk move on from there.
8. Pick and choose what to brag about.
"I heard you mention your company is looking for a social marketing manager. I've been doing that for five years now."
Just as you tweak your resume to each position, highlighting one area of experience over another lets you brag in exactly the same targeted fashion. Along with keeping it simple and brief, you should also find a way to keep your brag relevant to the topic at hand.
9. Be prepared to show yourself.
"I'm glad you asked!"
You prepare for an interview, but do you prepare for networking events and other meetups in the same way? Part of really being confident is feeling prepared to talk about yourself in a positive light, to show what you can do in a way that communicates worth rather than insecurity or insincerity. So practice! Feel ready to go ahead and brag about yourself just a little, at the right time and in the right way. You might be surprised at how quickly you see positive results.