How comfortable are you showcasing your professional achievements on LinkedIn?

A delegate attending a recent Social Media training workshop told me that she was loathe to make any mention of her awards or directory entries for fear of being accused of boasting.

The issue was recently highlighted by a US writer who explained it this way:

“There is nothing in this world that negates the satisfaction of a hard-earned accomplishment quite like the humble brag. It’s all too familiar — the kid in class who gets a 95% on a difficult test and reveals their score with disappointment, drawing attention to their ostensibly modest superiority”.

Reading between the lines, the ‘offence’ is not so much mentioning an achievement, but saying, “Oh shucks, that was nothing. Anyone could have done that”.

The programme of social media workshops was for a leading professional services firm. But if I say that I have acted for a ‘leading’ firm, business, or organisation, (and indeed by writing this article at all) am I suffering from humble brag? Am I trying to ‘persuade’ you that I am at such an exalted place in my career that ‘leading’ firms instruct me? Is that a brag? If it is, how do I go about reaching out to prospective clients and show how I can help if I cannot reference similar work that I have done?

Of course, there is a fine line between an out and out blow of one’s own trumpet and carefully worded self-promotion. One person’s perception of boasting is another’s enlightenment as to how I am well placed to help. But, if I had a choice between not saying anything and occasionally straying into humble brag, I know where my vote would be.

The last thing that I would wish to do is to alienate an audience of potential clients. But if I say nothing, then I run the risk of losing out to those who skilfully talk about their accomplishments and experience in a transparent and digestible way.  

Conversations about your practice area/market/sector are happening online whether or not you are involved in them. Your competitors will be showcasing the work they do for clients, the results they achieved in helping them and the awards they have won, even if you decide not to.

LinkedIn is not perfect, and perhaps there is too much humble bragging, but it is possible to promote oneself without false modesty. For awards, some clients, prospects, and introducers will be delighted for you and others. I believe only a small minority may see it as self-serving.

My recommendation is to be ‘carefully visible’. After all, as Oscar Wilde once said:

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

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