It’s the small things like speaking up in meetings, offering to take on new projects and networking that count
A good position came up at work, you matched the job, and had high hopes, but didn’t even get an interview. Why did that happen?
It happened because the selectors didn’t know you, so you weren’t even considered. No matter how good you are at what you do, to get appointed to senior positions, you have to be well known. Especially by influential people. And constantly visible at meetings and company events.
Because it’s not only what you know that matters, it’s who you know. And who knows you. Being genuinely competent is important, of course. But what really matters is being noticed. Or you’ll miss all sorts of opportunities.
But maybe you don’t like being in the spotlight? Or you feel uncomfortable promoting yourself? Don’t worry, it’s not hard to become more visible, even if you’re not naturally outgoing.
Start by improving your relationship with your boss. Don’t only talk about your work during performance reviews. Constantly discuss what’s going on, how you could add more value, and listen for opportunities to raise your profile.
If you’re shy in meetings, or uncomfortable talking about your ideas, or worried how others will react, start reading meeting agendas in advance and discussing them with your colleagues. Especially any points you might want to bring up. Your preparation will give you the confidence to speak up. Push yourself to take part, because meetings, especially those that involve other departments, are a great opportunity to reveal your knowledge and increase your visibility.
Speak up in smaller groups to begin with, as you develop your skills. Then as your confidence grows, start contributing at larger events. Join organisations like Toastmasters to develop your speaking skills, and practise them regularly.
Don’t wait for your manager to assign you to projects. Ask to be involved in anything that has an impact on your organisation’s bottom line or means working with people in other teams. That will help you build relationships with people elsewhere in the organisation, and expose you to more senior managers.
Build your knowledge and become known as an expert in something you enjoy. So that people come to you for help. Share your knowledge by writing for your company’s newsletters, offer to run training courses, create an interest group, and speak about your area of expertise at company events.
And network! First be clear about your networking objective, like getting a particular job, and then think about how to get to meet the decision makers who’ll make the appointment. Find people who can introduce you to them, chat with them about your work and ask for their advice. Find a mentor who will champion you within and outside the company.
And don’t just focus on yourself. Highlight other people’s achievements, and always share the credit for your successes with all your team members. That way you’ll increase your visibility without boasting or stepping on other people’s toes. And far more opportunities will start coming your way.