Walking the Line Between Self-Promotion and Humility

Artful self-promotion has its obvious rewards: building your personal brand, earning the respect of colleagues, receiving better opportunities. But it’s important to remember that your self-promotion can benefit others, too. Advancing your projects and achievements can be good for the whole team and can further educate your group and boss about new ideas and tasks, while improving methods and procedures. The trick to tactful self-promotion is in the delivery. Here are some tips for gaining more visibility without coming off as a braggart.

Be Honest and Consistent

Your perceived worth to the organization stems first from your boss and colleagues observing you do great work, day in and day out. It’s not a short-term proposition. Demonstrating your dedication to your job and ability to make decisions with the company’s interest at heart builds a foundation of trust that is an essential supplement to self-promotion.

Be Your Own Advocate.

Nobody knows your abilities, experience, and potential better than you—so own them and speak to them in impactful ways. Understand what makes you uniquely valuable and learn to tell that story. Raise your profile outside of the company through networking and professional associations. If you don’t champion yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

Share What You Believe.

Rather than listing your accomplishments, speak to what motivates them. Starting your own company becomes your passion for turning ideas into realities. Employing 50 people is translated as your mission to help others discover their potential. It’s a subtle yet powerful shift. Share what you believe, and let others see how those beliefs fuel your accomplishments.

Speak in We.

Listen carefully when a well loved and respected leader talks. Chances are that person speaks in “we.” “We broke records this quarter.” “We completed the project early.” Self-identifying as a member of a team above all else speaks to your commitment to that team and your ability to give credit where credit is due. Plus, if you endorse other people, other people will happily endorse you.

Quantify Your Successes.

How many? How much? How often? In business, the successes that garner the most attention are those with a number attached. The secret is to start with realistic, achievable, clearly stated goals that, when achieved, do all of the talking for you. Not every achievement can be quantified numerically, but you can communicate them in a manner that demonstrates their value.

Cop to Your Failures.

Similar to self-promotion, self-deprecation is both a powerful tool and an art. Your failures and foibles humanize you—and it’s much easier for others to feel good about your success when they know you’re aware of your own fallibility. Roasting yourself takes confidence and, frankly, it’s endearing. Just be careful not to take it too far; excessive modesty can come off as disingenuous.

Subtle self-promotion can do wonders for your career; the risk is that it can be perceived as self-aggrandizement. The secret to being your own advocate is all about how you frame your achievements. Avoid ticking off your successes and instead share the underlying beliefs that fuel your ambition. Recognize publicly that you didn’t get there alone—every success story has a supporting cast that appreciates a little acknowledgment, and may even repay the kindness. Set clear goals and share them. Not only will you avoid the resting-on-your-laurels look, you’ll have something quantifiable by which your success can be judged. Finally, let others see your humanity. Be someone they can relate to by copping to your mistakes, actively seeking feedback and help, and lauding their successes as enthusiastically as your own. A little realness will go a long way in making your success both apparent and palatable.

The author, Cory Jones, currently serves as Vice President of Commercial Marketing for Frontier Communications. In his role, Cory is responsible for all facets of business-to-business marketing for the company, including acquisition, retention, digital, social media, lead generation, and marketing communications.

Cory holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Texas Tech University. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children, and is on an eternal quest to finally break par on the golf course.


Frontier Communications offers voice, broadband, satellite video, wireless Internet data access, data security solutions, bundled offerings, specialized bundles for small businesses and home offices, and advanced business communications for medium and large businesses in 29 states with approximately 28,000 employees based entirely in the United States.

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