Unfortunately, just being good and having the skills and expertise needed for your role isn’t enough to stand out and ensure you are getting the opportunities and growth you deserve. The need to ‘do your own PR’ is becoming increasingly relevant for leaders who want to progress, as it’s what will differentiate you and get you onto the radar for more senior positions. I use the analogy of a diamond: unless it’s unearthed, faceted, polished and held up to the light, it’s just a black rock, buried underneath the ground.
A key part of building your reputation as an expert is the ability to raise your profile in a way that doesn’t look like bragging or cringy, especially in cultures where it’s perceived to be self-indulgent or even arrogant to do so.
A quick and effective exercise is to start by looking realistically at yourself and undertaking a personal SWOT analysis, profiling your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats within your workplace currently. I find a lot of people who do this have a clearer idea of where they want to progress and where they need to do more work.
Your SWOT will hopefully show a clear path of where you want to be, where you are now, the relationships you need to deepen and how you need to raise your profile to get there.
And to help, here are my tips to help you raise your profile in a subtle way, without alienating your colleagues!
- Volunteer for demanding projects; say ‘yes’ and figure it out later. Senior leaders love enthusiastic and ‘up for it’ staff and to be known as a great team player can stand you in good stead.
- When asked if you can do / have done something, say ‘yes.’ Identify which projects you would like to lead, which committees and teams you would like to be part of and which values and opinions you would like to be known for.
- Put yourself forward for non-day job related activities. Offer to mentor or coach people within your organization and externally. Sharing your expertise in this way will help you to appreciate the value you bring and illustrate your worth more widely than your immediate circle.
- Get involved in out of work activities – go to networking events, volunteer for the next activity, set up a task force / working group / forum to tackle an issue you’re passionate about.
- Turn up early / stay late for meetings – that’s really when the relationships are formed, and you are seen to be present.
- Choose when to use ‘I’ and when to use ‘we’ – sometimes people need to know it was you who delivered on a certain thing. Give credit where it’s due but don’t let self-deprecation get the better of you!
- Remember how you look does affect how you’re perceived. Take a look at how the experts in your organisation and sector dress, think about whether you want to conform or rebel against this style and adapt your image accordingly. If you want to appear more experienced than your age, you may choose to adopt a more conservative style of dress. On the other hand, if you want to appear more approachable then a more casual way of dressing might be better. In all honesty, being you is authentic and enough – just be aware of the impact.