As I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed the other day, one particular post caught my eye.
Its creator said that eight people had stopped him that weekend, just to give him some “incredible” feedback on his LinkedIn posts.
Apparently, what these eight people really loved was that he’s not scared to be vulnerable. They also praised his nice writing, and the fact that he shares the bad stuff as well as the good. Oh, and he’s also honest, relatable and entertaining (they said), writing posts that are truly original and unique.
During a really good year, someone might mention my own LinkedIn output about 1.256 times. So I took the bait and clicked on this person’s profile, eager for an example of his original, unique, honest, entertaining and nicely-written posts.
To say I left feeling a bit disappointed is something of an understatement.
All I saw was an unremarkable collection of sales-focused rambles, together with some advice about treating clients like they’re family (which, when you observe most ‘normal’ families up close, could be seen as Very Bad Advice Indeed).
This is a fabulous example of bragging gone awry. But it’s also a cautionary tale about the importance of not confusing clicks with custom. Just because someone clicks on – or even ‘Likes’ – your brag, doesn’t mean they intend to work with you.
For example, I get a kick out of bad writing and bad motivational quotes, so I’ll periodically click on social media posts that feature both, out of nothing more than morbid fascination.
So if you have to brag, Rule Number One is: back it up with something that indisputably proves your lovely brag to be true.
Rule Number Two is: don’t disguise a brag with false modesty – a technique people much younger than me refer to as the #humblebrag.
“I’ve just won a fantastic award! But I’m sure at some point they’ll realise they got the wrong person”.
Humblebragging always has a terrible whiff of “doctor, I’ve got a friend with a sexual problem” about it. So indulge if you want; just do it knowing that nobody’s fooled. We know it’s really you who thinks you’re out-of-this-world amazing.
Not that I blame anyone for bragging; not really. When you’re in charge of your own employment, how else are you supposed to shout about what you do? As the Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum, once famously said, “without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing”.
My advice, therefore, is to check your brags before you post them. If you read the same post written by someone else, would you find it annoying? Would it tempt you – not to click on it, but to actually work with that person?
(Remember: if all else fails, you’ve always got the option to just be really, outstandingly good at what you do. That way, other people might brag about you instead).
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
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