Want Powerful People to Notice You? Be Useful

We all start at the bottom. In the dark. Ignored.

Even high profile people like James Chartrand, Erika Napoletano, Stefanie Flaxman, Bernadette Jiwa, and Belle Beth Cooper were once nobodies.

What did they do to climb out of that hole? They got noticed by powerful people. But not through flattery.

The mistake most people make when it comes to trying to get the attention of powerful people is to shell out compliments and praise. Through email or in person at a conference, say.

Trust me, powerful people like compliments and praise, but it’s momentary, shallow, and fails to make a lasting impression.

There is a better way.

According to social psychologist and associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia Business School, Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, the best way to get a powerful person to notice you is to be useful.

Yet useful in a very specific manner: offering to help her to meet goals, conquer challenges, and flat out continue her rise in power.

It starts by understanding her desires and challenges:

  • Where does she need help the most?
  • How can you ease her burden?
  • Where is she falling behind?

“It’s her goals that matter,” Halverson says, not yours.

So. Can you be someone who helps the powerful person achieve his or her goals? If so, then the powerful person will find it worth the time and mental energy to pay attention to you.

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