In my previous post, we talked about how to build your personal brand, and the importance of being able to articulate who you are, and your skill-set. This is also a really important tool in pursuing greater visibility.
Much has been written on the advantages of visibility for career advancement and for leadership transitions. Visibility means making you, your brand and your skills known. It’s important for ensuring that you are considered for assignments and opportunities; helping you build strategic relationships and be retained during turbulent times, and in attracting sponsorship. In a nutshell – you need to be visible. If your company doesn’t know about your talents and abilities, it cannot fully leverage you as a resource – and you don’t get offered leadership opportunities, professional credit and promotions. It makes sense to get noticed.
There are numerous reasons why women don’t pursue visibility. In my leadership coaching experience, women and introverts often don’t ‘do’ it, opting for invisibility instead, because:
- ‘my work should speak for itself’
- ‘bragging is bad’
- ‘it just isn’t me;’ ‘I am introverted’
- ‘I am a perfectionist’ and/or ‘I have a fear of failure’
- visibility is a ‘limited’ resource – they don’t want to deprive someone else!
- they fear violating gender/culture norms – ‘women should be modest’ or ‘that isn’t done in our culture’.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we earn recognition through hard work and are promoted solely on merit. This is usually not the case. Visibility is an important advancement strategy that we can add to our repertoire.
To add value to yourself and to others, here are 10 ways you can build your visibility:
10 Visibility Strategies:
1. Leverage Meetings!
Make the most of meetings. We spend much of our time in meetings, so take advantage of the opportunities they offer and speak up. You have things to say, so don’t just think them – people can’t read minds. Your ideas, thoughts and opinions will add value and build connection with others.
- Turn down your inner critic and create an opportunity to intervene.
- Prepare what you want to say, in advance.
- Invite a leader to a team meeting to hear what you and your colleagues are working on.
- During the meeting, offer a comment, build on an idea, or identify a synergy.
- Ask a question.
- Invite someone else into the conversation if you notice they are silent.
- Talk about what your team is doing.
- Where appropriate, support or second another woman’s idea.
2. Manage Up!
Strengthen your relationship with your boss and build your career by getting to know each other so you can build a productive working relationship.
- Find out your boss’s work style and preferences – and adapt where you can. E.g. do they prefer staff to formally arrange appointments to talk or present a report, or do they like people to pop their heads in with news, or chat in the office kitchen?
- Share your work-style and preferences, in the spirit of creating a supportive working relationship. E.g. ‘I’d love us to meet every Friday morning for a 10-minute update – and then I can prepare some headline details.’
- Give progress updates.
- Report accomplishments in regular reports (monthly, quarterly, yearly).
- Make sure your boss is aware of your career development goals – so they can support you in them, and so that you’re the first person they think of when an opportunity arises.
3. Stretch Yourself!
Identify stretch assignments or any other growth opportunities to develop new skills, network, raise your profile, and increase your visibility. In addition to widening your networks, skills and knowledge, you will show yourself as proactive and motivated.
- Accept, or offer to do assignments that provide skills development, networking or greater visibility.
- Build and nurture your network to increase visibility.
- Join task forces, working parties and interest groups.
- Look for and accept other learning opportunities inside and outside your organization – and don’t forget to make sure that your boss knows about your participation in these!
Share your knowledge, experiences, ideas, tips, etc.
- Let your colleagues and boss know what you are up to either on email or during a meeting. Share updates beyond your team and even with stakeholders outside your organization.
- Prepare a best practice ppt and share with colleagues.
- Organize a ‘lunch and learn’ – in which you can share your expertise (and others’).
- Teach a class (at work or in the community) in whatever interests you – communication, yoga, cooking.
Gather others, and create a community by pulling together interested people around a theme, cause, idea, etc. – a wonderful way to build connections. It is a great opportunity to add diversity to our network, which adds to its efficacy. When people get to know you and your skills, they can advocate for you and tell you about opportunities for you (as can you, for them!).
- Form a Mastermind Group for peer mentoring.
- Establish an ERG (employee resource group) of people like you (same backgrounds, common interests, gender, race, ethnicity), to discuss pertinent issues.
- Start a book club – to discuss either fiction, or non-fiction/business, for professional development.
- Start a community group – e.g. support group for first time parents.
6. Engage Networks!
Go out of your way to engage with other people and grow your network.
- Create or attend a business network meeting – and host (or encourage others to participate), while telling people about yourself and what you do.
- Offer to talk about a relevant topic or area of interest at the next session, area meeting or workshop.
- Reciprocate in all transactions. Ask people about themselves and what they do – show an interest, and in that context, you can tell people about yourself and your own work or interests.
- Add value to every conversation: offer those you talk to some helpful information, a useful link or contact, or an introduction to someone who can help them.
7. Embrace Your Allies and Advocates!
Having an advocate or sponsor speak for you can be valuable. It takes the heat off any embarrassment you might feel about self-promotion, and third party validation is also very acceptable by others: seen as more objective, and therefore, credible and trustworthy.
- Ask someone you know (boss, mentor, staff, colleague, friend, etc.) if they would approach someone and make an introduction on your behalf – telling them about your work, skills, experience, successes. You can always reciprocate in a similar way, for them.
- ‘Bigging up’ somebody else is easier than self-promotion, but enthusing about other people makes the speaker feel good, too.
- Remember that people are almost always happy to help someone else.
8. Express Yourself!
Use writing and speaking to raise your visibility and profile. This can be done both internally within your organization and externally – in your wider professional or leisure and community life.
- Write a blog and share and promote the link via email and to networks. This could either be an internal works blog or a personal one.
- Publish articles and personally write to connections on LinkedIn.
- Offer to contribute to the business or community newsletter or newspaper – write an article, offer a regular column, write an ‘agony aunt’ Q&A feature.
- Contribute to a panel discussion at a conference.
- Give a presentation at a workshop.
9. Cast Your Net Wide!
Become known in your wider industry or professional field. This includes being more visible on professional platforms, in networks and via online and other publications and professional media.
- Improve your profile and make closer, more detailed connections on professional platforms like LinkedIn.
- Attend conferences – and be proactive in discussions, workshops and conversations.
- Offer to be a guest on a pertinent industry or news podcast.
- Start a podcast for your profession or industry.
Look for opportunities to be seen and be active – through volunteering. Offer to:
- Be an ambassador representing your team and/or community in meetings or events.
- Lead on a project, or lead a steering group or working party.
- Chair a meeting, or feed back from one.
- Do a task nobody else wants to do.
And remember, you don’t have to use all these strategies. Choose whatever suits you and make them your own. You can also add your own ideas to build your visibility.
This is just the start of your visibility journey. Be seen, and succeed.
Make sure you download my new resource Designing Your Leadership Self-Reflection Practice – Guided Writing Prompts – packed with tips, tools, and guided prompts to launch your leadership self-reflection practice as you continue to strengthen your leadership.
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LinkedIn: Palena Neale