If you want to get ahead in life, you have to be able to promote yourself effectively. You can try to rely on referrals from others, but the person who knows how to market your abilities and value best is you. It’s time to throw away any hesitation you may have and learn to self-promote without feeling shameless.

However, self-promotion can do more harm than good if not performed with the necessary skill and subtlety. The top concern I hear about self-promoting is that people are afraid that they will come across as conceited. So what is the difference between arrogant vs confident? An arrogant promoter demonstrates that they are insecure and seek approval, whereas a confident promoter knows who they are, what they want, how capable they are, and is able to convey this well. Are you unsure which side you fall on?

Here are the top mistakes that arrogant self-promoters make and how to avoid them.

1.    They are self-centered: they don’t ask questions and they don’t listen

The typical arrogant networker takes advantage of others’ time: they use this valuable opportunity to boast about their accomplishments, career, and offer advice though they may not be experts on the subject. They tend to forget the most fundamental rule of good conversation: being curious. Don’t forget to ask questions! A confident self-promoter is eager to learn about other people because they know that they don’t have to monopolize the conversation in order to make a good impression.

Another advantage to asking questions is that you will be able create more opportunities for you to showcase your various achievements. Imagine asking a B2B marketer how they market a certain product or how they use a particular marketing channel. Once they have answered, you will have the opportunity to reply with how you succeeded in a similar role.  For example, you could start by saying: “That’s very interesting! When I was part of the marketing team at (the organization), I approached a similar problem by (how it was approached) and the result was (quantifiable success).”

In a group situation, it’s always easy to pick out the arrogant person. It’s something about the way they carry themselves. Their top mistake is that they don’t listen to others and have a tendency to talk only about themselves, brag, and exaggerate their abilities. Worse, they convey to others that they don’t care. Stand out to your networking partners by focusing your energy on listening actively. You can then work towards establishing the common ground necessary to convey they you are authentic and genuinely curious.

2.    They don’t take the time to find out how they can add value

Appearing confident is all about being able to communicate the value you can add to others. An arrogant promoter eagerly brags about and exaggerates past accomplishments, but it takes a confident promoter to know how to package this information well in order to convey how their skills, aspirations, and how they can positively contribute to a company.

How can you promote yourself better? Research, research, research! It’s going to be very difficult to prove your fit with a company if you don’t know about some of the problems it is facing. Set up informational interviews, visit their website, and go to information sessions.

A good way to communicate your accomplishments is to select one that speaks to your ability to take your target organization to the next level. For example, an arrogant promoter talks about their skills in marketing, whereas a confident promoter gives examples while tying in that their expertise in this area will help their target company get a product to market faster.

3. They don’t provide evidence to back up their claims

Saying that you led a team of 10 or executed a new social media strategy for your organization is not enough. These are descriptors of your responsibilities and do not tangibly communicate the value you can offer to a potential employer. An arrogant promoter will fall into this trap by describing their accomplishments with less detail than is necessary to market their abilities successfully.

How do you avoid this? Always seek to convey your success by weaving a well-crafted story that details what the issue was, how you resolved it, and how the end result positively impacted your organization. Share examples of projects you undertook that you were passionate about and that quantify your accomplishments, capabilities, and aspirations. Don’t be too verbose but keep in mind that the more relevant information that you add to a story, the more likely it is that your conversation partner will be able to relate to and remember you.

A confident promoter would say:  “While we were thinking of trying new ways to market our product, I decided to take the plunge and to implement a social media strategy for our organization. Six months down the line, the results have been impressive. The traffic to our sales page increased multi-fold and I was able to learn more about what successful social media campaigns look like.”

This level of detail communicates accomplishments effectively and clearly suggests that you are able to take initiative.

Are you heading to a networking event, interview, or meeting with a Recruiter? Increase your chances of successful self-promotion by coming up with three talking points that convey how you can translate your skills into a concise value-add message that demonstrates why you will be an asset to a future employer.

Have you done or seen some of these mistakes in action? Do you know of other major mishaps that can lead to unsuccessful self-promotion? Share them with us in the comment section below.