I sometimes wonder what parents teach their children - or not. Why? Recently I've seen a lot of people promote qualitative assessments of themselves. People seem un-abashed at calling themselves talented, great thinkers, gurus, experts, pretty, funny, charming, etc. I am a bit baffled by it because aren't all of those qualitative assessments in the eye of the beholder? I was told often as a child that it's not polite to brag or talk about yourself. It's also contextual - one person may think you are hysterically funny and to someone else you are just rude.... so those qualities are not fixed. But then I've always had a problem with the term self-promotion and the Me 2.0 meme so maybe I'm the odd one out.
However, what I've found is that regardless of whether it is OK to publicly self-assess... it is far, far more powerful to have others do it. So the real question is - if you really want to be recognized in a particular way or for having a particular trait - who is the best person you know to validate and promote that in a way that will turn heads?
If I were running for a federal office as a Democrat, I would want President Obama supporting and promoting me.
If I wanted to be known for my fashion, Anna Wintour is the one I would want proclaiming it to the world.
Those are extreme examples but there are influencers of opinion all around us, some more influential in certain areas than others. There is also a network from which those very influential people get their opinions... often people who are relatively quiet or unknown. Demonstrate to them why and how you are smart, fashionable, knowledgeable - whatever it is for which you wish to be known. They will do a much, much better job of making that perspective generally understood than you ever can. And - if you let them do it instead of trying to do it yourself - you look a lot less like a schmuck. Leading enterprise software vendors... I'm thinking of you here. Adding unnecessary qualitative adjectives is also poor writing (of which I am often to blame). The analog advice is that all that time that you might otherwise spend talking about yourself... spend that time promoting others. If they feel the same way about you, they are likely to return the favor. This is pretty well understood by a lot of taste-makers at an individual level but what I haven't seen much of is companies who spend time and resources to promote others that are not directly affiliated with their business.
You want to know who I think is interesting? Check my blogroll, my Twitter Lists, or my People category. For me, it's all about the company I keep and I trust that company to represent me much better than I can myself. So if you want to know what I'm good at... don't ask me, ask them.