Toot Your Own Horn – Brag Without Bragging

A former boss of mine once told me “Brenda, you just don’t toot your own horn enough.” This is a boss I respected immensely – and still do today – for his knowledge of broadcast journalism and his ability  to get to the point, hone and craft talent and be a positive, professional force.

It’s a Noisy World

He was right; I did not toot my horn. I believed my work stood on its own merit and people would see the quality of that work. In today’s fast-paced world, you have to rise above all the noise that is out there. Today’s business world is all about tooting your horn and rising above the din of the junk that should NOT be recognized. The adage – ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ applies today.

How many times have you seen a product, author, business owner, etc. quoted in the media and you wonder HOW did that person or product get so much coverage? Public relations is about tooting your horn in a positive way whenever possible. You can’t sound preachy or as if yours is the only opinion or thought that matter; you need to be credible, knowledgeable and confident in making the pitch.

I’m the best!

Convincing others that you are the expert is also about listening. When you are networking or at some sort of business-related function, how much time do you spend listening to other people’s business conundrums? You should be listening more than 50% of the time. You have to listen  carefully to hear any problems or issues; take notes when possible (or write things down as soon as possible) and connect by letting the person know you get it. That can be the hook; letting the person know you get it without going on about how you solved a problem in the best  – or worse – avoided getting into a similar problem. Responding by saying, “I can hear that your issues are at a critical stage; I have practical solutions and ideas that can help you,” lets the person know you heard what he/she said and you can help. Simply letting someone know YOU are the BEST in your field isn’t about the person and their business problem; a comment like that is all about YOU.

By listening, observing and understanding the depth of my own expertise, I’ve learned how to let people know I can help them. It’s about saying HOW I can help them; how I can take a load off their busy shoulders and how I can be a benefit to their organization for the long haul.

 

Coming Home

The parenting rules blur when your son or daughter is in college. You may want to guide them, offer advice from your years of learning and experience and prevent them from making mistakes you may have made. Well, forget it. For the most part, your college-aged children want you to let them go.

We have one child – everything is one and done; we go through experiences once and move on to the next experience. Since September, I’ve learned that our son rarely wants to hear our advice. He’ll listen to our friends or just about anyone else when it comes to college-aged advice – but not us. After I got over my slightly hurt feelings along with the desire to impart my wisdom on our son, I’ve realized, he just wants us to LISTEN.

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Son & grandparents – Dec. 2012

He called us last week. We talked – or mostly HE talked for much of the 30-minutes. We asked questions showing our interest – he answered. In an earlier call, he went on about how the spring semester is so very different from his fall semester. In my had I was thinking, “Gees, didn’t I tell him that?” Of course I did; taking a look at his spring course selection, I knew he’d have a ton of reading and I told him so. This got more intense when he made the honors program. He did NOT want to hear that from me. He had to experience the challenges himself. No warning from mom was going to penetrate his defenses.

Which leads me to my final revelation. Weeks ago, our son chided us for making plans so far in advance: vacations, dinner reservations, parties, etc. He called last night – Tuesday – to say he was thinking about coming home this coming weekend and did we have any plans. That is HUGE for him. Normally, he’d call us 15 minutes before – or after he wanted to do something. I can clearly see that he is starting to manage his schedule and look forward.

So, when he calls, I listen – and take notes. That way I am forced to listen; I have a record of what he talked about and I can ask good, relevant questions that engage him in the conversation. I guess I’m growing up, too. And I can’t wait to see our son this weekend.