Is visibility critical to professional success?
Yes — it is! I did not accept this fact during the early years of my career. I believed that my work would speak for itself and that if I really had potential, it would be evident to everyone. I was so wrong! It took time for me to realize the importance of visibility, but once I started to work on it, it paid off huge dividends.
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of women who think the same way. So, I decided to share my thoughts on why visibility is important in the corporate world and how to go about gaining it.
Millions of people join the workforce every year and as businesses thrive, team and organization sizes keep growing. If you go about your work without making an effort to be visible, you become part of the crowd. While your immediate manager may know you, to senior leaders you are one among the hundreds of people they employ. Even if you do a terrific job, but fail to showcase it, it gets lost in the overall performance of the team. Hence, when it is time for promotions and salary hikes and the ‘Bell curve’ looms over your head, you are just another name on the list.
How do you gain visibility for yourself and your work? Here are a few things that you could do.
Create a branding/identity for yourself — You should be known for something within your team or the broader organization. Play on your strengths and create a positioning for yourself as an expert or go-to-person for an area of work. It could be an industry domain or a skillset (project management, analytical skills, presentation skills, etc) that you bring to the table as an individual. Once you identify your core skill, volunteer for assignments where this skill could be valuable. Once you start contributing to these assignments, people will begin to recognize your value and will approach you for support or advice in future.
Find opportunities to present your work — Always be on the lookout for opportunities to present your work. You could either showcase it in team meetings or write about it in newsletters or in monthly/quarterly reports. If someone within the organization is working on a project that could use your work, offer to share it with them. Whenever you meet senior leaders in the organization, find an opportunity to mention your work in a tactful manner. Be prepared with an elevator pitch so if they ask you what you’re working on, you’re ready with a crisp and impressive response.
Network within the organization — It may not come naturally to some of us, but networking is critical. The more the people who know you and can vouch for you, the better are your chances for success and growth. Make it a point to attend organizational events, townhalls, team meetings and meet people. Once you make a connect, stay in touch with them and keep them posted on your work. Offer to support them if they need help and do it with sincerity. Relationships matter, and strong networks are a great source of strength.
Volunteer for high-profile initiatives — Organizations usually have multiple high-profile initiatives running during the year. Pick one that aligns with your strength and volunteer for it. Time it such that it aligns with an off-peak period so you have enough bandwidth. And at times, if a high-impact initiative comes up when your workload is high, go for it even if it means a stretch for a few days. When you work on such initiatives with enthusiasm and give it your best, you are certain to get recognized and appreciated.
Ask for high-impact assignments/projects — “You don’t get what you don’t ask for” said Sophia Amoruso, a successful businesswoman. Don’t hesitate to ask for high impact projects. You may be turned down once or twice, but you will eventually get it if you persist. And once you are assigned to such projects, give it your best and make it a huge success. This will win you immense credibility.
Network outside the organization — Networking plays a huge role in our professional journeys. Strong networks ensure us access to information, opportunities, events and valuable connects. This might come in handy when someone/some initiative within the organization needs help that your network can provide. If you are a well-connected person, it will add to your visibility within the organization.
Create an online brand identity — In current times, your online identity is extremely important. Run a search on your name and see what results turn up. Do you have an impressive profile on networking platforms? Have you published any whitepapers or blogs? Are you active on networking platforms? These are all very important points to consider and work on. Managing your online identify effectively can improve your branding within the organization too.
Initially, you will need to make an effort on the above aspects, but as you tread along, it will begin to come to you naturally. And professional success will follow for sure.
Here’s a final takeaway — “Don’t blend in…stand out”.