How to promote yourself without being obnoxious

How to promote yourself without being obnoxious
Image: Reuters/David Loh
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This originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Bruce Kasanoff here.

Is it possible to genuinely be interested in the needs of others, and still promote yourself? Absolutely, otherwise all the good people would be starving in the streets. But doing so requires that you skip the sort of “me first”, self-centered promotion that many utilize.

Here are some tips for getting the right kind of attention:

Start with the facts

Keep your resume, bio and LinkedIn profile in perfect order. Be factual, clear and complete; If you doubled sales in a year, say so.

Plenty of people do the opposite: they make boastful claims in an article or email, but their profile is lacking the most basic details.

Make it very easy for people to get facts about what you have accomplished. The key word here is “facts.” Don’t brag, just tell the truth.

Acknowledge others

State your accomplishments in terms of how you have helped others. If you have clients, list the ways they have benefited from working with you. If you volunteer, be proactive in supporting your favorite non-profits. When your team wins, give credit to the other team members.

Be helpful

The best articles, blog posts, comments and discussion topics serve to help other people. The wrong way to get a new client is to say, “I’m the best, hire me.” The right way is to be so helpful that it becomes obvious to others that you are someone who adds value and brings the right attitude to tough challenges.

Beware… people are very good at spotting insincere contributions. Don’t simply pretend to help others; actually help them.

Share freely

Few things bother people more than a “teaser” article that forces readers to share their contact information before gaining access to more valuable content. I get the sales and marketing reasons for using such an approach, but a far better strategy is to share freely and make it easy for people to contact you if they value what you have shared.

Be expert

It is much better to be expert than to say you are an expert. If you have worthwhile capabilities, use them. Write a book that imparts genuine insights. Teach others valuable skills. Be calm and focused in stressful situations. Look for actual solutions, instead of simply parroting tired, old phrases. Use your abilities in ways that other people value.

When you don’t know the answer, just say so

It is human nature to fall into the trap of thinking you have all the answers. Newsflash: no one has all the answers. If you want to earn credibility, be the first to admit when you are over your head. Even better, send people to other experts who are equipped to answer their current questions; paradoxically, doing so will raise your credibility.

One last caution… don’t be full of yourself

Never use these words to describe yourself: thought leader, visionary, insightful, or genius.

And please—if you are over the age of 20, never put your GMAT, LSAT, or SAT scores on your profile. Once you get into a school, it is bad form to tell others how you did it. Listing your board scores is equivalent to saying, “I’m smart, but I lack common sense.”