The delicate art of self-promotion

It's important to be vocal about your unique value propositions, but how you say it is critical

Man shouting with a megaphone

Vipul was in his final semester of an MBA programme at a prominent university. As he prepared to leverage his graduate credentials, he was brimming with potential and ready to embark upon a promising career.

Perfect GPA from a top-ranked school? Check

International internship? Check

Glowing recommendations? Check

No wonder Vipul seemed to carry himself with quiet confidence. As soon as he had that diploma in his hand, the employment offers would surely be pouring in. Or at least that was his theory. Perhaps there was a hitch. Vipul had always believed that it was impolite to ‘toot his own horn’. Verbally promoting his strengths to others felt undignified. His accomplishments were impressive. Period. Really, what’s left to discuss?

Another MBA candidate—Dheeraj, was a high-energy student armed with big credentials and an effervescent personality to match. Like Vipul, Dheeraj sported a jaunty resume, but clearly had a different outlook on the concept of self promotion. Unabashedly, he took advantage of every opportunity to tell anyone who would listen about his latest achievements. Dheeraj celebrated every personal success with a no-holds-barred mission to spread the good news. We’re talking about effusive e-mail blasts, Facebook posts, and enthusiastic recaps for co-workers during elevator rides.

Inevitably, Dheeraj’s self-promotion became a running joke for many of his fellow students.

Perception disconnect

Vipul and Dheeraj may have vastly different personalities, but they share the same professional problem. They have what I call Faulty Volume Control. Essentially, they are both struggling to find the optimal sound level for their own self-promotion. Vipul’s volume is soft enough to mimic the mute button, while Dheeraj’s volume is cranked up to the level of full-throttle eardrum bursting. Fabulous resumes aside, these gentlemen won’t be able to reach their full potential until they tune in and find just the right volume level for communicating their unique value propositions.

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A version of this was first published in the February 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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