We have been taught to brag about ourselves in our professional branding, but that’s terrible advice.
The more illustrious a person is, the less likely they are to praise themselves.
When someone is truly a guru, other people say “That person is a guru!” but the guru doesn’t say it about themselves. It would be beneath them to boast. They don’t have to, and they don’t want to.
The people who brag about their credentials on LinkedIn or anywhere else are afraid that if they don’t trumpet their accomplishments, no one will respect them.
What they don’t realize is that confident, upright people will only respect them when they respect themselves. It is the solidity in you that makes you worthy of respect — not the praising words and phrases you stuff into your profile.
Here are ten things never, ever to say about yourself:
1. I’m a disruptor. This is the worst branding choice ever! It says “I walk into situations and disrupt them.” A person who is on their path is heading toward something — a vision they created. They don’t walk around disrupting things other people created. “Disruptor” is the most juvenile, grovelly branding choice you could make. Ditch it today!
2. I’m a change agent. Here is another grotesque self-branding cliche that needs to disappear. If you know where you are headed — what you want to create in the world or to bring about — then tell us about that. Don’t tell us that you go into companies to make changes at the head honcho’s request. If you do, then all your power is conferred on you by someone else. That makes you a henchman, not a “change agent.”
3. I am a guru, a maven or an expert in my field. Let other people call you an expert. They will be happy to do it if you help them solve a problem they are facing. Don’t stoop to praise yourself. Doing so sucks away your power!
4. I’m creative. Tell us what you created so we can decide for ourselves whether we think you are creative, or not.
5. I am nationally-recognized/world-renowned. This is silly and embarrassing to say about yourself because if it’s true, you don’t need to say it. Tell us what you care about, not what other people think about you.
6. I am a leader in my field. That’s for others to decide — not you.
7. I’m an alum of Ivy League schools and blue-chip employers. At thirty or forty or fifty years old, is your value to the world wrapped up in the lofty schools you attended and the companies that employed you? For your sake, I hope not! Those are important pieces of your story, but you would be awesome without those credentials, and the question is “Why?” What sparks you? Tell us about that!
8. I’m an editor/writer/producer/web designer. The problem with multiple slashes in your branding is that they diminish you down to a bundle of skills. You are much more than that! Tell us what you intend to do with those skills. Tell us how those skills can come together to help somebody make their business grow.
9. I’m a hard worker. If someone wants to hire you strictly because you’re a hard worker — a concept that lost most of its steam when the Industrial Revolution gave way to the Knowledge Economy — I don’t want you to take the job. I want you to work for someone who respects your brilliant mind and your incredible ideas, not the fact you really put your nose to the grindstone!
10. I’m a Results-Oriented Professional. This is so generic and bland that it brands you as a person with no point of view and no personality. You have a personality and a point of view. Use them! Tell us your simple human story, instead:
I got into healthcare marketing through an internship in a hospital PR department. Since then I’ve been helping healthcare brands raise their visibility and connect to consumer and business audiences online and via traditional media.
It’s a new day. The more confident you are, the more human your branding will be. The more human your branding is, the higher-caliber readers you will attract. Isn’t that what you want?
I can tell you this much — it’s what I want for you!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns. Liz’s book Reinvention Roadmap is here.