I don’t know about you, but the movie Christmas Vacation is one of our family’s guilty traditions at the holidays. While my husband has his favorite clips, one of mine has always been the scene where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) thanks the president of the company (Frank Shirley) for the Christmas card he received. Mr. Shirley stutters because he can’t even remember Clark’s name and then his personal assistant whispers to him that Clark is referring to the “corporate card.” I think it’s safe to say that Clark has a visibility problem!
Those of us that have worked in large organizations, find the “oh so true” humor in this scene because it represents true life. Even though Clark had created a wildly successful product for the company…he still had no visibility.
In our ultra-competitive business environment, simply doing great work does little to escalate your career. In fact, it’s simply the base line for keeping your job. Much like Clark Griswold, it can be tough to differentiate yourself solely on work contributions. But never fear, there are many other outlets where you can position the professional spotlight on yourself and increase your face time with executives
- Volunteer for high profile projects. Working on an effort with executive involvement is one of the surest ways to increase your visibility. While high-profile projects can be tough to snag, the potential long-term career value is beyond measure. But if you hope to leverage this technique, it’s important to start laying the ground work today with your boss. Share your goal and if possible integrate the goal into your objectives for the next calendar year.
- Attend high level meetings. Chances are good that your boss can’t possibly attend all of the meetings on their schedule. Attending a meeting as their representative is a great way to “be seen.” But in order to capitalize on this opportunity, it’s important that you are also “heard.” The reality is that attending high level meetings and providing no value can actually backfire. Instead, volunteer for topics allowing you the potential to showcase your knowledge.
- Build great relationship with boss. If you want visibility from executives, it’s critical you have an outstanding relationship with your boss! Your boss can be the single biggest asset (or detriment) to your career. Think of it like this, he has the face time with executives that you crave. And for now, he has the opportunity to sing your praises, be mute or curse your abilities. For more on this topic, check out my previous post “8 Tips to Get Your Boss Promoted AND Boost Your Career." Sure, taking this avenue to increased visibility won’t happen overnight, but it’s a proven approach that has worked for generations.
- Get training and share. Increasing your skill-set provides a double benefit. Any opportunity to increase your knowledge and training offers a direct benefit to your career. However, when you can transfer that knowledge on to other team members and even other departments, you gain huge visibility. It’s even quite possible to create an area of expertise that can provide direct personal branding opportunities. As a quick aside, if you’ve never considered the impact of personal branding and have career aspirations, you should. Watch for an upcoming guest post by me Nov 7th on Aha!Now which focuses completely on the topic. (www.aha-now.com)
- Chose high visibility mentor. If you’re planning to climb the ladder of success, chances are good that you’ve already considered (or even started) a mentoring relationship. It’s a given that the one on one coaching mentoring provides can help improve your performance on specific topics. But it also allows you the opportunity to create a “raving fan” outside of your department or work group. Selecting a mentor with high visibility increases your worth as well. For more on this topic, check out, “Six Critical Things When Choosing a Mentor.”
- Help the cause. Most organizations have some level of philanthropic involvement. Typically the decision of which charities to support is made at the executive level. Hello, the topic is important to those at the top! Volunteering to serve on planning and execution committees is a great way to gain visibility (and perhaps even personal contact) with those in the most powerful positions at your organization.
- Get involved. Joining trade organizations is a fantastic opportunity to put some much needed distance between yourself and the pack. Participation in these groups exposes you to fresh ideas which you can then bring back to your organization. The opportunities to increase your internal visibility can be limitless with this approach. And if you can gain a leadership role in these organizations, even better! Chances for leadership in external organizations increase your worth to your current employer and also provide heightened visibility in your industry in the event you decide to make a career move.
- Get published. Every organization loves to maximize free publicity. If you have expertise relevant to your industry and good writing skills, consider creating an article for a trade publication. While you may have never considered the possibility, it can be a wonderful career move! Typically these sorts of publications are starved for new content and are relatively easy to work with. Note: Before going too far down this path, be sure to check with your direct supervisor to ensure corporate support and compliance.
Believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner. If you ran into “your Mr. Shirley,” would he know your name?
If not, it might be time to try some of these easy tips to increase your visibility at work!