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How to Promote Yourself without Sounding Pushy

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Feb. 23, 2020

"Hmmm... How can I say this without sounding pushy?”

There's a fierce debate in my mind. I'm sitting in a meeting with 10-15 other people and the topic is “good news”. It's a low key group and all news is welcomed.

But I'm worried.

I was really excited about recent successes with my personal branding workshop, BUT I was also afraid that I would sound like I was trying to sell a consulting service.

So I held back.

Ironically, later in the meeting, someone mentioned that a local business needed help with topics just like personal branding.


I missed an opportunity to share news I was proud of, news that could have helped others, all because I was afraid of the dreaded label:


I was bothered for the rest of the day knowing that I held back. Why couldn't I talk about myself? Is there a secret to self-promotion without sounding pushy? I didn’t have a good answer. So I asked myself:

What's more important? The opportunity to help, or my fear of being labeled pushy?

One week later I started promoting myself.

And guess what. Instead of people pulling away, they leaned in with interest.

There IS a way to promote yourself without sounding pushy.

Here are 5 tips to promote yourself without sounding pushy

  1. Trust your instincts.

    When the good news topic came up, my first instinct was, “I have good news”, NOT “I have something to sell”. BUT I didn’t trust myself enough to speak out. I let the fear of a label stop me, and it stalled me for a week.

  2. Change your outlook.

    There's nothing wrong with advocating for yourself.

    If the news had been about a friend of mine, I would not have hesitated to talk about her.

    Remember: If you can advocate for someone else, you can advocate for yourself. So why was I having a problem being proud of my accomplishments?

  3. Lead with purpose and passion, not your promotion.

    The following week when the good news topic came up, I shared my passion and didn't worry about my motives.

    I love helping people exceed.

    Recently I've helped people network to new opportunities by showing them how to say who they are and what makes them unique in just a few sentences.

    I've been offering personal branding workshops to help professionals introduce, market and promote themselves in 20 words or less. And it's been AMAZING to watch them introduce themselves clearly and confidently.

  4. Instead of promoting yourself, offer to help.

    If you can't get over the "pushy" perception - take a half step. Offer to help and see what the response is.

    "I know Acme Corporation is going through a reorganization and many people will be looking for new jobs. I've been giving personal branding workshops that help worried job hunters confidently explain why they're the ideal candidate to hire. My workshops have helped a lot of people boost their confidence and find new jobs quickly. If you need any help, I'm happy to offer it. ”

  5. Promote yourself and then listen.

    If you're worried about how you will be perceived, there's one way to find out:

    Promote yourself.

    Then WAIT for the response.

    Don't rush. If there's interest, you'll get pulled for more information. If there’s no interest, have a graceful exit planned, and move on.

And don't forget to relax. Speak slowly. Promoting yourself will feel awkward at first because it's a new skill. But as you build confidence, you'll forget about your concerns.

You may even discover your best advocate:


Ready to speak up more and worry less? Here are some other great tips!

Overcoming the Fear of No How to Overcome the Fear of "NO"

Rejection How I Fight (and Win!) the Fear of Rejection

Get Heard How to be Heard When Everyone is Talking

Check out the The Career Toolbox page for more practical tips and tools.

Follow Evoke.pro on LinkedIn.

Interested in improving your communications? I help people pitch, persuade and present with more confidence. Contact me at reo@evoke.pro to get more information. Ask about my workshop, "How to say who you are and what you do in 20 words or less."

Photo iStock

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