Presence is the tangible ways in which you connect with others. This is the place where activities and behaviors that help you be seen in your organization and industry exist. When you work to build your presence, you are seeking physical ways to connect with others as well as contribute to your organization and industry. You cannot be visible if you are not seen by others!
It is important to recognize that visibility and value are deeply symbiotic in your organization and industry. You already know that professional risks exist for busy business professionals who are invisible or undervalued in their organization. You do not want to be visible without providing value, and it is hard to demonstrate the value that you provide if you are invisible.
Research tells us that how we define something dictates the activities we subscribe to it. There is a famous example from the turn of the 19th century that illustrates this point. In an effort to change how the public perceived his company, the president of a railroad company declared, “We are not a train company – we are a transportation company!” Suddenly, by viewing his organization as a provider of transportation and not just an owner of trains, he created new customer perspectives and business opportunities.
While networking is the most effective strategy for individuals looking to land a new job and for self-employed business owners to generate revenue, networking is significantly less effective for employed business professionals who are seeking ways to grow within their current organization.
Networking is, and will continue to be, an important professional activity for business professionals. I previously stated that 60 – 70% of employed individuals located their most recent job opportunity through networking. In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, these numbers were corroborated when 59% of 1,339 respondents chose the category “by networking with friends and colleagues” as the strategy that led them to their most recent job. Therefore, networking seems to be three times more effective than using an on-line job board and almost three times more effective than using a recruiter.
There is little doubt that human beings have a need for social interaction. In his landmark paper A Theory of Human Motivation (1943), Abraham Maslow concluded that, after fulfilling our psychological and safety needs, we must fulfill our interpersonal and “belongingness” needs. To paraphrase Maslow, individuals hunger for affectionate relationships with people and they will strive with great intensity to achieve this goal.
1. Send a recap of your conversation (i.e., what you heard, next steps) to your boss.
2. If appropriate, schedule a follow-up meeting to continue the conversation and to ensure that you keep making progress.
3. Focus on the next steps that move you closer to connecting your contributions with the business’s performance.
1. Consider saying something like the following to get the conversation going:
- “Thank you for finding time to speak with me about the value I create for our organization.”
- “I appreciate the information that was shared in my last performance appraisal and I am continuing to focus on the areas of opportunity that we have identified.”
1. Identify the business performance drivers that are important to your organization. Brainstorm with a colleague, speak with a senior leader, or talk with someone in finance, sales, business development, or operations.
Since this is not a conversation being held widely in organizations, you need to be the following in order to make progress on this vital topic: