We all have special skills and gifts, but knowing how to tell others about them without sounding like complete braggarts is a very tricky business indeed.
Whether it’s for professional or personal reasons it’s difficult to toot our horns without sounding big headed and blowing any chances for making a great impression.
Professionally, when job hunting or at a networking event, we want the prospect to be aware of our skill sets, but short of a cover letter and interview (which is another post altogether), it’s tough not injecting too many “I’s” into our conversation.
Personally, at various social events it can be difficult sharing what you do without sounding egotistical. Afterall, while sipping my wine, the last thing I want to hear is someone giving me their CV over appetizers.
However, life often presents us many people and opportunities that we can help or that can help us and being able to toot our horns without blowing it is an important skill.
Here are six tips I’ve learned:
1) Be in the moment. Often we can inject a comment or observation into what is happening around us and by doing that opening the door to a possible conversation with someone else.
2) I I I = No No No. Watch your “I’s”, turn them into “My’s”. Often it is more of a subconscious realization, but when someone spouts off a bunch of I’s, my mind tends to wander. A few are alright. Understandably, we can’t refer to ourselves in the third person, that would be creepy. If you worked as part of a team or managed a team, be sure to credit them somehow. “My team rocked and we were able to punch out results that went above and beyond…” Also, consider beginning with a verb, like: My role/job is about meeting deadlines, coaching executives, transforming behavior. Use some powerful verbs from this list!
3) Intros help. Often your host (at a professional or personal event) will have a bit of info about the guests, usually at least a name and occupation, and by asking your host to introduce you to someone else can open the door to a dialogue.
4) Brief facts. When responding to a question like, “What do you do?”, giving a one sentence title & brief description is adequate. Resist the urge to share how you met a project deadline despite insurmountable odds. This is where a fun tag line can come in handy that may invite curiosity and further questions about what you do. Mine is Connecting People One Balloon at a Time and it will often garner some interest.
5) Ask questions. Remember to inquire about the person you’re speaking with as they are interesting, too. Plus, we’re often left with good impressions about someone when they ask about us. Naturally, if someone asks you outright about your job and skills by all means share your accomplishments.
6) Be vulnerable. There is something endearing about sharing our humanity with others, it connects us to each other in real ways. We don’t have to reveal too much, like embarrassing experiences, but just a small piece that lets others know we’re susceptible to the same feelings and foibles as they are, feelings like worry, relief, gratitude. “I” statements are useful here. For example, “…and I was afraid I bit off more than I could chew, but with some help organizing my tasks the goals were met…”. Or “…I was worried and had no idea the task would entail such diligence, but by rallying my team/consulting my mentor I was able to…”
What have you tried?