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How to sell yourself without bragging or being a bore.

Posted by on in Muritai Group Blog
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Over the last month or so, I have found myself at several informal networking events. Social events and catch-ups have created many opportunities to meet new people, be merry and to broaden my network.

However, over the course of these events, something became abundantly clear. The one thing Kiwis hate more than an Aussie on a cricket pitch is a fellow Kiwi who is blowing their own trumpet. Kiwis are a humble, easy-going bunch who are fiercely independent and that translates into a hell of a lot of downplaying when it comes to answering that very tricky question “so, what do you do?”.

Most resort to a stream of self-deprecating humour that stays well clear from anything too salesy or pushy.

Talking about yourself and your business is hard and getting the balance right to keep people interested without appearing boastful can feel impossible. Unfortunately, this very endearing Kiwi characteristic can really stifle business conversations and connections.

Networking and broadening your circle of influence is a key marketing tactic for any business looking to grow, and by limiting yourself to formal networking or business events you are restricting your opportunity. So in an effort to make your social events double as networking events, let me give you a few tips.

Tip 1 – Spark Interest By Talking About What You Love

The key is to talk about what you love, rather than what you’re good at. This allows you to talk about yourself without bragging. People love to hear what excites other people, what they are passionate about. Passion is good, it’s infectious and can be the difference between a connection made and a connection lost.

Let me give you an example:

So Eliza, what do you do….?

I am a Senior Marketing Advisor to small and medium-sized businesses.

(Blah, boring, snore)


I help businesses thrive through the science of marketing. I love to take a business plan and translate it into words, images and feelings that create an emotional connection with people.

(Say what now? The science of what?)


Tip 2 – The How, Wow, Now Approach

You may have heard of the concept of an ‘elevator pitch’ – it is a succinct and persuasive sales pitch that helps you convey your role, business, idea or product in a way that can be understood quickly and easily. It’s called an elevator pitch because you need to imagine that you have walked into an elevator and a ‘big wig’ (who is very influential and with big pockets) is inside. You have to imagine that you have 30 seconds to convince this person that you, your product, business or idea is interesting.

An elevator pitch is an important sales tool, and it is just as relevant for social or informal networking. The trick, however, is to have your elevator pitch sound like a great story.

Here’s a little formula to help get you started.


Wow! – wow your listener with an interesting, bold or impressive statement that is designed to make them want to hear more.

For example, I might say:

I act like a bridge between the business world and their customers.


How? – provide some clarification to your bold statement

For example, I might then say:

So I help businesses thrive through the science of marketing. I love to take a business plan and translate it into words, images and feelings that create an emotional connection with people.


Now… – give an example and tell a story

For example, something like:

Now for instance, I am working with growing businesses around the country and building their brands by understanding their customers better and delivering marketing that works. I just love getting my head into a business and seeing their vision turn into reality.


The how, wow, now formula is an easy way to answer “what you do” in an interesting way. It sparks interest, keeps it conversational and allows you to create different versions for different occasions. But the most powerful thing about this nifty little formula is that it allows you to get animated and passionate. You can frame the conversation around what you love to do rather than what you’re good at. Talking about what you love, not what you do, allows you to talk about yourself without feeling like you are bragging or boring.

So when you are next asked the dreaded question “what do you do?”, think about what you love to do then apply the wow, how, now formula. Move your focus to your passion and you might just spark some interest and start a conversation.

If not, then I suggest reverting to another of those classic Kiwi characteristics – making fun of any Aussie within arm’s reach, talking about sport or the weather (snore).



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