Increasing Your Visibility
Raising Your Profile at Work
A promotion opportunity recently came up in Patrick's department. The job matched his skills perfectly, so he was shocked when he didn't get an interview, especially when he learned that the successful candidate was less experienced than him.
When Patrick asked his boss why he hadn't been considered for the role, she said the selection panel didn't know anything about him, so she couldn't convince them that he was the right person for the job.
Conversely, the successful applicant was well known to the panel – she had built strong connections with influential people and had represented the department at company-wide gatherings. As a result, they knew what she could do.
Unfortunately, this is a common scenario. People who get noticed get the best assignments, while those who keep their heads down miss out, despite their hard work.
So how can you increase your visibility at work, without bragging or stealing the spotlight from your colleagues? We'll look at some useful strategies in this article.
Why Be More Visible?
Today, being good at your job isn't the only requisite for getting ahead in your career. If key people aren't aware of you, you'll likely miss out on opportunities to improve your skills and take on interesting assignments, despite your hard work and good performance. It's not only what you know that matters – it's who you know, too.
You can't always rely on others, such as your boss, to increase your visibility for you. Instead, you need to figure out how to maximize your exposure so that you'll be "in the running" for opportunities when they arise. This is especially important if you work remotely, because people might forget about you if they don't often see you in person.
Many people feel uncomfortable at the thought of promoting themselves, so they assume a more passive role in the workplace. Fortunately, there are many simple ways that you can become more visible, even if you are not naturally outgoing.
How to Improve Your Visibility in the Workplace
Use these strategies to improve your visibility within your organization:
Speak up in Meetings
Do you feel comfortable sharing your ideas in meetings, or do you feel shy, because you're worried about how others will react?
Meetings give you a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and increase your visibility within your team or department. If you don't speak up currently, work on developing your self-confidence, so that you feel more comfortable being the center of attention. Also, learn how to be a more engaging speaker, so you make an impact that's memorable for the right reasons, and push yourself to say more, even if it isn't something you naturally want to do.
To plan what you could say in a meeting, read the agenda beforehand and think about the questions you want to ask or the points you want to make. This preparation will give you the confidence to speak up.
Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Boss
It's a good idea to talk to your boss periodically about your work, even if you have a formal evaluation process. Use this time to discuss what is going well, to ask for suggestions on how you can add more value to the team, and to find out about opportunities to raise your profile.
Ask for High-Visibility Projects
Does your team do anything that needs it to work with people in other teams or departments? Or are there any assignments you could take on that have a big impact on your organization's bottom line?
Don't wait for your manager to assign these projects to you – ask to work on them when you find out about them. They'll help you build relationships with people in other parts of the organization, and you might get more exposure to decision makers such as senior managers and executives.
Volunteer to Represent Your Team
If your team sends a representative to cross-departmental meetings, ask your boss if you can attend. You could also volunteer to speak at project or committee meetings, or at company town hall meetings.
If you're new to public speaking, start by giving presentations to several colleagues or in small team meetings. As you develop your skills, and as your confidence grows, you can speak at bigger events.
Also consider joining a speaking group such as Toastmasters, so that you can practice your skills regularly.
Participate in Learning Opportunities
Company-wide training events, such as seminars or "lunch and learn" sessions, provide great opportunities for you to become better known within your organization. When you attend them, make an effort to contribute to discussions, and partner with people you don't already know in "break out" sessions, so that you can build your network.
Demonstrate Your Expertise
When you're seen as an expert in your organization, you'll develop a reputation as someone who others can come to for help. This can lead to interesting work projects, as well as speaking and training opportunities, all of which increase your visibility.
First, choose an area to build your expertise in. For instance, you may have a talent for dealing with unhappy customers. Or, perhaps you're great at managing your priorities. Choose an area that excites you and that you already have some knowledge of.
You can raise your profile further by sharing what you know. For example, you could write a regular blog for your company's intranet or produce articles that you distribute throughout your organization. You could also offer to train people or speak about your area of expertise at company events. Just be sure to provide plenty of value for your audience!
Form a Mastermind Group
If your organization doesn't offer many opportunities for you to connect with people in other departments, you could create a Mastermind Group based on a common interest. For instance, you could set up a group for people who are at the same stage in their career as you, or you could meet with people who want to learn a specific transferable skill.
This will demonstrate your leadership ability and help you build even more new relationships.
Grow Your Network
Clearly, you won't get to know others inside your organization if you spend your time hanging out with the same people at lunch every day. Although these colleagues may be advocates for you, your personal support base should extend well beyond your immediate team!
To grow your network further, be strategic. Write down your networking objectives and think about how best to reach the people you want to build relationships with.
Also, remember that you can network with others in your organization outside the confines of the working day. Find out where they socialize, and see if you can get involved too. Or, organize an informal after-hours meet up, and invite people from other departments.
Charity events are also great for raising your profile while also contributing to a worthwhile cause. Do something for your organization's chosen nonprofit, or ask your company to sponsor you to take part in a charity race or other fundraising event.
Find a Mentor
Mentors can offer invaluable advice on getting noticed, and they can serve as sponsors for you, within the company and further afield. Our article on Finding a Mentor looks at how you can identify and approach people who may be able to mentor you.
Highlight Others' Achievements
Finally, bear in mind that you don't just have to focus on yourself to raise your visibility in your organization. Be humble – highlight other people's achievements, and always share the credit with those who have helped you along the way.
In today's highly competitive business environment, it takes more than hard work to get ahead. Those who increase their visibility in the workplace are more likely to be considered for opportunities for professional advancement.
Use these strategies to boost your visibility:
- Speak up in meetings.
- Strengthen your relationship with your boss.
- Ask for high-visibility projects.
- Volunteer to represent your team.
- Participate in learning opportunities.
- Demonstrate your expertise.
- Form a Mastermind Group.
- Grow your network.
- Find a mentor.
- Highlight others' achievements.
This way, you can increase your visibility, without bragging or stepping on other people's toes.
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