The ability to “sell yourself” with confidence is a key skill for success in American culture.
American culture focuses on the individual. In interviews, performance reviews, meetings and presentations, people are are expected to “sell” themselves by stressing individual, quantifiable achievements, as well as showing enthusiasm and energy.
In many cultures, people do not speak up or praise themselves, and it is a difficult new skill to adopt. If you want to develop this ability, here are 5 ways to get started.
1. Break away from humble. It’s not bragging if it’s in the right context (for example, asking for a raise). It is not only OK that you can describe your achievements and abilities, but in certain contexts, it is expected.
2. Use audience awareness. Who are you trying to sell yourself to, and for what goal? This will help you focus your talk.
3. Discuss your successes without qualification. State them directly, and stop there. Don’t question yourself, say you were lucky, or the success is undeserved.
4. Speak directly and confidently. Adopt the attitude, body language and speaking techniques of confidence. Include vivid stories and examples that are memorable, rather than just listing facts.
5. Move from “we” to “I” when discussing successes and achievements. For group-oriented cultures, these behaviors are seen as undesirable. Credit for success goes to the team, not the individual. If you talk about team successes, be sure to include what your specific role was in the success.
For many non-native speakers of English, selling yourself is a skill that takes time to develop and be comfortable with. Create a short narrative and practice aloud until you can comfortably summarize your strengths, abilities, and experience.