Mary was sitting down for coffee with a new colleague when she was asked, “So, Mary, what is it you do?” Her mouth went dry; she became flushed and flustered. Here she was hoping to make a good impression, and she could barely speak.

Mary is not alone. I’ve asked thousands of people in my community if they’ve ever experienced something similar. The answer? A resounding yes. Why? The fear of not being impressive enough. The pressure to sum up your work. The looming Iceberg Belief that it’s impolite or even wrong to talk about yourself or be in any way self-promotional. The discomfort of trying to act like something you fear you’re not.

But being an advocate for yourself and your work isn’t about pretending or bragging. It’s about letting who you are and what you do shine through.

Ilise Benun, creator of Marketing Mentor, has spent more than 30 years teaching the art of self promotion. “People have a very narrow definition of self-promotion, like claiming you’re the best at something,” she says. “My definition is broader. I like to say that self promotion is not just about you. It’s about how you help others, whether it involves solving their problems or achieving their goals.”

There are many options between “hard sell” and “panic attack” for promoting yourself. These strategies can help.

1. Take stock of your wins. 

Jot down all the things you’re most proud of having accomplished in the past year. These aren’t ideas; these are facts. What if advocating for yourself was simply a matter of sharing the great things in which you played a critical role?

Next, stop focusing on your flaws. Instead, consider your superpowers, says Susan McPherson, author of “The Lost Art of Connecting.” “We all have them,” she says. “Think about what comes easily to you and not so easily to others. This is what other people want to know about.”

2. Throw out the first pitch. 

Take control of the conversation by asking the first question, says Benun. “This not only gives you something to respond to, but takes the pressure off you to ‘come up’ with something to say.” This can also help position whatever it is you might want to talk about next.

3. Do not disqualify or disclaim.

Every time you disclaim, put down, or give an unflattering preamble to your work, you do it a disservice. Saying things like, “It was no big deal,” or, “I can’t claim credit here,” does no one any favors―especially you. Instead, lead with what you did accomplish. If luck and other people played a role as well, talk about how well it worked out, rather than how little your effort mattered. You can hone this skill by practicing positive self talk.

4. Share your story. 

You don’t have to make yourself out to be a hero to share something great. Everyone loves a story, so tell one. Storytelling provides the context for a recent accomplishment and why it mattered. Set the scene, and then zoom in on the role you played. End with how it turned out, which allows other people to share in the win.

5. Don’t wait to be noticed. 

In today’s competitive environment, you can’t wait for your work to speak for itself. “It has to get through the noise,” Benun says. “Take responsibility for getting the word out with the facts about what you’ve done and how you’ve contributed to a process or project.”

And while references are great, we can’t rely on what others will say about us. “We have to take more agency about how we are positioned and what gets emphasized,” Benun says. In this way, you can use your accomplishments to move your career in the direction that works for you. “This is not only how we take care of our careers,” she says, “but how we allow our careers to take care of us.”