Is it possible to “toot your own horn” without looking like “that guy”?

Isn’t all self-promotion, well, too self-promoting (and annoying)?

At a recent workshop that I conducted, I started the day by asking the folks to introduce themselves and let me know something UNIQUE about them and what they wanted to learn most from my self-leadership development class. Most couldn’t think of anything unique and, hands down, the most frequent request was around how to let others know that they can and do add value.

How can I toot my own horn
without sounding like a jerk?

Here are 5.5 sure-fire ways to get started.

1: “My boss says…”

Recently I was looking to replace the carpeting in my house and so we invited the sales guy to bring some samples. As I listened to his schpeel, I noticed that at one point he said, “My boss likes that I know how to listen and really care about making sure the customer is totally satisfied. I’ll even give my customers my cell phone number when they purchase.”  He tooted his own horn, but it didn’t sound braggadocious or arrogant at all.  And, yes, we bought carpet from him and yes, he gave us his cell phone number.

1.5: “What my previous supervisor/team members/clients liked about me…”

Along the same lines, you can look back at your previous work, maybe your last performance review or customer feedback or 360 review, and capture the good words that the folks you worked with said about you. Make sure you write them down and keep them with you. Memorize them so that you can easily and readily recall them when the situation arises.


Promote [pruh-moht]:

to help or encourage to exist or flourish;

Latin prōmōtus, past participle of prōmovēre to move forward, advance


 2: Add some “I’s” to your “We’s”

Many times when you are talking about a project or work you’ve done in a team environment, you like to use the word “we”. It makes sense. Everyone on the team is involved in the overall success. However, don’t overlook your part in that success. You, as a project manager, for instance, may say something like, “Yes, the team did a terrific job and worked long hours to overcome some challenges and deliver this project on time. I made sure that we stayed focused on the end goal even when it seemed like the walls were caving in.” What’s your story? How can you add some I’s to your We’s?

3: Use comparisons to outside activities

I’m hoping that you do a few activities outside of work. 😉  Use your experience from these activities to promote some of your strongest attributes and characteristics. For instance, I umpire Little League Baseball and I might say something like… “One of the things I like about volunteering to umpire Little League baseball is that I’ve learned to keep my cool under pressure and stress – yes, even when someone kicks dirt on my shoes or turns their cap around backward to talk to me.” Think about your extra-curricular activities and what you learn from the process. What is it that you like to do outside of work that helps you to be more resilient, patience, determined, systematic, empathetic, etc.?


“Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!”
P.T. Barnum


 4: Use your past experience to illustrate teaching points

Think about how your past experience helps you solve today’s challenges and problems. You know, I used to be afraid to speak in front of even 3-5 people. It used to be a terrifying experience for me. However, then I learned to use on my best thinking habits and focus on adding value to the audience. This shift changed everything. Now I make my living speaking and presenting. What’s your story or stories? How can you use them to illustrate your contributions, skills, and talents?

5: LinkedIn Recommendations

Are you on LinkedIn? If not, do you use Microsoft products? Do you know who just purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars? Yep, Microsoft. This new deal means Microsoft can embed LinkedIn with Skype, Exchange and Outlook email systems, and other enterprise products so that, in the words of one Silicon Valley expert, it will be able ‘to recreate the connective tissue for enterprises.’  Soon, folks will be able to look up your LinkedIn profile from their desktop, mobile device, and tablet without ever going to the website. They’ll be able to see your work history and yes, your recommendations!

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one today!!

If you do have a LinkedIn profile, ask for recommendations from the folks that know, like, and trust you. It’s easy… Hover over the down arrow next to the View Profile As button on your Edit Profile page.


Also, if you are on someone else’s profile and you’d like to recommend them, that’s easy too!!



Now, it’s up to you!!  Start Promoting Yourself TODAY!!

Which of these 5.5 ways of promoting yourself are you going to implement? Let me know by sharing your comments below.

You can also comment on this article on LinkedIn at


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