From the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Your mom told you it was rude to brag about yourself-but if you really want to market your business, you're going to have to forget those old rules and start talking up a storm about your greatness. Peggy Klaus, author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It (Warner Books), shares some valuable tips:

Where does an entrepreneur start when it comes to bragging?

Peggy Klaus: The most important thing is to get your "bragalog" down. A bragalog can be 15 seconds, or it can be a three-minute monologue about who you are and what you do. Usually people do it very badly; they give very stilted, monotone responses. "Oh, I'm a management consultant." Then there's dead air. They don't fill in the story.

Can you describe some of the biggest mistakes people make in the bragging arena?

Klaus: There's terrible bragging. That's why people, when they define the word "brag," come up with this vitriolic description that includes [the words] "obnoxious," "self-aggrandizing," "self-centered,"-all those things. [One] of the mistakes people make is to be condescending.

There's also boring people to death with that laundry list of "This is what we do, this is what we do." You want to weave it into a story that has very vivid images and some details that are [said] with passion and urgency.

Can you give us an example of how someone can infuse a story with passion and urgency?

Klaus: For example, an Asian woman is promoting her consulting firm. So she says, "As an Asian woman growing up in the West, I was always aware of how different I was than most of the people I was around. So from a very early age, I knew that I wanted to do something [to help] people [get] more comfortable with themselves. I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to work in a field that I have so much passion and belief in."

So she's told a story; she's told us about herself and her dreams. It's woven in, and we get a better sense of who she is. Then she could add, "I really feel that I've made an incredible difference in people's lives."

Because it's being told in a story with some vivid images and the sense of urgency, no one will think she's bragging.