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Women and the Law NewsletterThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

January 2013, vol. 18, no. 3

How to brag online without sounding like a jerk

Most of us have been there. We’re proud of the things we’ve accomplished and we want to tell someone, whether it’s an old friend, a potential client, a partner-in-the-making, or just our family. Being awesome is, well, awesome, but having others recognize it? Much more awesome!

So how do you modestly tell someone you grew your company threefold in a year, ran a wildly successful campaign for a client, or drop into conversation that you’re a pretty big deal in your industry? You need to focus on developing an online voice that allows you to brag about your accomplishments and build your brand around your expertise.

Bragging is a staple of any good marketing campaign. The client has to know why he should trust you with his money and, most importantly, his time. The challenge is straddling the dangerously fine line between confidence and arrogance. Tiptoeing the border is acceptable, but as soon as you cross it, it’s nearly impossible to make it back. No one wants to work with a jerk, so here are some ways you can let people know how truly awesome you are—without sounding conceited:

1. Apply for Awards

One of the most important things you can do as an expert is receive third-party verification and acknowledgement of your expertise. Anyone can say he’s the best in his industry, but if the leading industry publications recognize him as the best, it’s a lot easier to believe.

Awards convey a sense of quality and excellence for their recipients. Imagine you’re building a new house. If 10 builders say they build the best houses, who do you pick? You might as well blindly point at a Craigslist page and choose whichever ad you land on. But if one of those 10 builders has received multiple awards for quality houses, reliability, and consistency, it makes your decision considerably easier.

Awards highlight your achievements for you, so you don’t have to go around patting yourself on the back. Your own words are, admittedly, biased—but awards aren’t.

2. Client Testimonials

On that note, always remember to let someone else do the bragging for you if at all possible. Client testimonials showcase the quality you put into your work and the satisfaction level of your past clients, and then let them do your bragging for you. After you’ve finished a high-quality project for a client, ask her if she would mind writing a couple quick paragraphs about her experience with you, how satisfied she is, and what the impact of the project has been on her. Oftentimes, your past clients will be more than happy to share with others their great experiences with you.

Client testimonials are unique chances to leverage your past projects into opportunities to market yourself to new clients. Simply enabling your clients to express their gratitude publicly can be the most genuine and trustworthy marketing move you make.

3. Make Yourself Accessible

Whether it’s a personal Web site or a company “About Us” page, you should always provide a way for clients to view your résumé online. Making this accessible enables potential clients to research your accomplishments and discover why they need to utilize your services over a competitor’s. You want to make it easy for people to passively see what you’ve accomplished and why you really are the best at what you do.

Think of this as a virtual trophy case. It’s there for clients who are seeking it out, but it doesn’t feel like “bragging” for those who don’t care to know. As you focus on all aspects of your online image, you can brag about yourself while exhibiting your professional accomplishments, which awards you’ve won, and even the nice things past clients have said about you.

Don’t forget about using your social media networks, either! Share your achievements with your social communities and let them know about your accomplishments. They’re more likely to refer someone your way if they remember reading about your achievements.

Finally, remember to be proactive about seeking out awards and building your trophy case. Although doing these things can be time-consuming, the effort is worth it. Take the initiative to go out and build your résumé so you’re no longer just the typical Joe Schmoe in your industry. You’ll immediately stand out from all the other Joe Schmoes—without seeming like a jerk. ■


Joshua Johnson is the Director of External Relations at Digital Talent Agents, a leader in strategic professional brand growth based in Columbia, Missouri. This article was first published November 27, 2012 at

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