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How to Brag (Professionally)

For some people, bragging comes all too naturally. You know the type: They're always ready to rattle off their latest accomplishment and show anyone who will listen how incredibly awesome they are. Although you shouldn't exactly aspire to brag quite like they do, all professionals should be able to promote themselves at the right time. Talking about how great you are may feel obnoxious, but there's a right way to do it. Learn to brag effectively, and the odds are good no one will even notice you're bragging. More importantly, it can have a huge effect on your career. 

Consider Your Audience
Bragging requires a listener. An important element of a great brag is that you're speaking to someone who needs the information. Bragging to peers, especially peers you're outperforming, is tactless at best. But bragging to decision-makers – your boss, for example – can help you stick out in their memory. You can also promote yourself within your professional network, to give other members of your industry the right impression. Handing someone your business card as you casually impress them can go a long way toward having strong, fruitful connections.

Feel The Moment
There are right and wrong times to brag. The key to knowing the difference is considering the effects of your bragging. There should be something that can come from the brag: If, for example, an exciting project is coming up, your bragging might help you get assigned to that work. Networking events are always a fine time to self-promote. Work events may or may not be, depending on the tone. Don't bring work up when everyone's unwinding, but if other people are still talking about work you're probably in the clear. 

The whole point of bragging is to share your strengths and accomplishments, so first you need to figure out what those are. Take a look at what you've done well in the past, and consider your passions. What are you most proud of? What do you enjoy doing? These questions will help you gain a better understanding of what you should be bragging about. It's also good to be mindful of what you don't like to do. Even if you're a total champ at making spreadsheets, it's probably best not to brag about it if you dread opening Excel. 

Ask For Feedback
Sometimes it's hard to see our own strengths. That's why it's useful to ask for feedback. Some offices offer up positive feedback as a normal part of the review process. If you're in an environment where no news is good news, it's OK to ask your boss what you're doing well. Getting the perspective of the people around you can give you the tools to really know your own strengths, empowering you to brag when the time is right. 

Know Your Dragon-Slaying Story
A dragon-slaying story is a three-part story of how you were faced with a problem and came out the champion. It's Forbes' go-to way to answer tricky behavioral interview questions, and it can be your biggest asset when you're given the chance to brag. It's a simple formula: Talk about the issue that arose, the decision you made to solve it and why that decision was best. Dragon-slaying stories are great because they can be tailored to fit any accomplishment and are naturally conversational. Having a firm grasp of your dragon-slaying stories will help you sound confident and passionate when you talk about yourself. They also give other people an understanding not only of what you do, but of why your choices and achievements work. 

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