How to Toot Your Own Horn at Work — And Why That Matters

“Not to toot my own horn, but…” 

That phrase has always grated on me. Why? Because you should toot your own horn — especially at work. 

Whether you’re considering a new job, selling your services as an entrepreneur or asking for a raise or promotion, you have to be comfortable with promoting yourself. It can feel wrong or weird or uncomfortable (I know — I’ve been there!) but it’s necessary for achieving your goals. You can’t rely on anyone else to make your case for you.

The good news is that self-promotion is a learnable skill. Here are three ways you can toot your own horn at work to establish your value as an employee without coming across as too braggy or egotistical.

Align Your Value With Company Goals

Successful employees clearly and frequently demonstrate their value to their employer’s larger goals. To do that, you first need to get clear on your organization’s mission and purpose, which are usually outlined on the company website or, hopefully, discussed often by your leaders.

Next, align your individual achievements with your company and team’s priorities by talking about how your work makes a difference to the big picture. Make sure that your supervisors and colleagues observe you taking tangible actions each day to show your value and contributions. This means talking about your end customers, using words from your employer’s mission statement in important communications and quantifying your achievements in terms of the numbers your team is trying to achieve.

If you don’t share your accomplishments explicitly, others may not realize how much you’re contributing to the team. This is especially true for remote workers.

Tout Yourself With Timeliness

Don’t promote yourself every day — that comes across as self-serving. Choose your timing wisely.

There are a couple of very specific times when you should toot your own horn at work. One of the best strategies is to talk about your accomplishments at a regularly scheduled discussion time. For example, you might make it a point of your weekly check-in with your manager to list the things that went well and that you’re proud of. You should do the same at any post-mortem on big projects you’re contributing to. Tooting at these moments will make sure that your successes are considered – and remembered – in appropriate context.

Never Lose Sight of Your Own Value

Keep a file – in a saved online document or a real live notebook – of the complimentary things that people have said about you and about your work. This isn’t just to inflate your ego. Understanding your own value supports better engagement and productivity, helping you continue to build your value to the company. Also, it’s easy to forget the nice things people say, so make sure you don’t have to rely on your memory.

It’s reassuring to see that what you’re doing is helpful to other people. It’s a plus for your boss to know, too, so share words of praise you receive from clients with them. It is totally appropriate, for example, to forward a positive email to your manager. When you look great to a client, it’s a reflection on the entire team and company. And that’s something leadership will want to celebrate.

Now I’m going to toot my own horn: My very first LinkedIn Learning class is now live! Check out my course, “Developing Organizational Awareness,” for a 30-day trial of LinkedIn Learning. You’ll learn more about aligning your personal value with company goals, how to promote yourself and so much more.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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