Whether you like it or not, being good at your job is not the only requirement for a successful career.
Yes, get qualified and strengthen your technical skills, these basics are important! But do you sometimes find that you miss out on opportunities and interesting assignments, despite your hard work and good performance?
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT ALSO, WHO YOU KNOW
This applies to both in your current workplace AND externally amongst peers. You can't rely on other people, such as your boss, to increase your profile for you!
Now we're not suggesting you try and turn yourself into a celebrity of sorts, rather that having the right conversations with the right people can open doors to exciting new career opportunities. By increasing your exposure to key people, you put yourself at the front of mind when these opportunities arise. This is especially important if you work remotely, because people might forget about you if they don't often see you in person.
Let's consider this common scenario:
Meet Jeremy. Jeremy is really good at his job. He has many valuable skills. Jeremy is also a little introverted and finds talking about his accomplishments a bit uncomfortable.
A new role has opened up at work. Jeremy hopes to be considered for the role, because he is more than capable, likes the idea of a pay rise and would welcome a new challenge!
A week later while making tea in the staff kitchen, Jeremy overhears that Olivia who has far less experience than him has been given the position, while he didn't even get an interview. Jeremy suspects Olivia may have magic hypnotising powers.
When Jeremy asked his boss why he hadn't been considered for the role, Tony said the selection panel didn't know anything about him, so he couldn't convince them that he was the right person for the job.
Olivia however, is 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.
Jeremy is not alone. Many people feel uncomfortable at the thought of promoting themselves!
Fortunately, there are many simple ways that you can become more visible, even if you are not naturally outgoing.
1. PHYSICALLY TALK TO PEOPLE INSTEAD OF SENDING ANOTHER EMAIL
This is one of the easiest things to do and so few do it. OK you don't want to be disturbing your colleagues by making them talk through every single idea or problem. Don’t waste their time. Be pleasant, and ask them directly what you need, or want to arrange, and the matter is done. Try to do this with one new person at least once a day. You are much more memorable than an email.
2. SPEAK UP
Your opinions count, make them heard. In meetings, in networking situations, listen first and then use the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge. If the whole idea of speaking up makes you feel uncomfortable then try to plan ahead. Read the meeting agenda beforehand and think about the questions you want to ask or the points you want to make. Or at an event have a look at the speak list or session topics and prepare questions to discuss in advance. No one needs to know you've done this, but it will go a long way to making you feel more confident if you are prepared.
3. CHOOSE PROJECTS CAREFULLY
When an opportunity to work with people in other teams or departments, offer to step up. When projects arise that have a big impact on your organisation's bottom line, get involved. Don't wait for projects to be assigned 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 organisation, and you might get more exposure to decision makers such as senior managers and executives.
4. GET A MENTOR
Mentors can be a valuable source of advice and also can help you make useful connections. Mentoring can be appropriate at any stage in your career. Although traditionally thought of as an experienced colleague acting as a mentor to a young mentee, it can also be useful at later stages in your career – especially if you have moved to a new sector or take on additional tasks.
Sometimes this feels like a dirty word. I mean who want's to spend an evening making awkward small talk with strangers when you could be home catching up on Sherlock?! Step one is to change your mindset. Actually attend. Go to the event, the meeting, the work social. Networking in essence is simply having a chat. It doesn't even have to be about work or industry related things to start with. Break the ice by talking about the weather if you have to. Remember most feel the same way about it, some just hide it better than others. Once you build up the confidence, you can start being more strategic about the people you want to network with.
Ready to step out from behind your computer?
We do have one final piece of advice.
Praise where praise is deserved. People love to be complimented whether they admit to it or not. People will remember when you talk to them and admire their achievements if you are sincere about it.
Also remember to always recognise other people's accomplishments by giving credit where credit is due. The one thing you don't want to be remembered for is is claiming ownership of work that's not yours!
Good luck! Take control of your career today.