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Mastering the art of shameless self-promotion

Jessica Markham

Jessica Markham

I think law schools fail to teach one important skill, namely the art of shameless self-promotion that is necessarily a part of being a lawyer. Talking about yourself and making others aware of the services you offer is one of the evils of being in private practice.

The holiday season always comes with cocktail parties, receptions and other networking events. I tend to go to a lot of these, partly because I think of attending these events as part of my job and partly because I have FOMO (fear of missing out).

I went to so many events last month that I got completely sick of talking about myself. Introducing myself, explaining what I do and telling my story has gotten really tiresome to me. I love meeting new people and hearing about them, but I’m bored with myself.

Recently a much more experienced attorney told me that what I have done “is amazing.” He was talking about how I built my firm. I thought to myself, Is he just trying to flatter me or does he really mean it? What I’ve done doesn’t feel “amazing.” I’m bored with myself, remember?

He told me to look in the mirror more often and to appreciate my accomplishments. I don’t think I’m the only person that has trouble with that. Why is our first instinct always to say in response to a compliment, “No, it’s not a big deal.” I think it is often easier to make self-deprecating or self-critical comments. I find that women are particularly talented at diverting complements — “I get a lot of help,” “I have a great team,” “I was in the right place at the right time” — as opposed to simply accepting the compliment. Or, worse yet, tempering the compliment with a negative comment: “I wish I could do better,” “I’m not that organized” and so on.

So next time you get a compliment, take it in. Appreciate it. Sit with it and simply say, “Thank you.”

Jessica Markham is the owner of Markham Law Firm, a family law firm in Bethesda.

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