Your time is precious. Your days are already packed with meetings, conference calls, overdue deliverables, and unanticipated interruptions. Working to raise your visibility in your organization and industry requires that you focus your precious time on specific activities and behaviors that help you produce results. Anyone can engage in a bevy of activities that keep them busy, yet you cannot afford that luxury. In other words, the investment of time and energy you make in your efforts to raise your visibility must be productive. What is the difference between keeping busy and being productive?
Reputation is the intangible ways in which we connect with others. This is where activities and behaviors that help you be known in your organization and industry exist. I like to think of reputation as the echo you leave when you exit a room. Your reputation is what your colleagues say about you when you’re not there. Perhaps your colleagues are commenting on a presentation you just gave, an interaction you just had, or your candidacy for a promotion. Do you know what they are saying about you? More importantly, what do you want your colleagues to be saying about you?
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!
Being visible is critical to your long-term success in your fast-moving, ever-changing organization. When you think about being visible, consider that there are three levels of visibility: low, medium, and high. The two levels that typically impact you are your personal visibility and the visibility of the work that you do.
You live and work in an increasingly transparent world, yet you find yourself less visible within your organization. You live and work in a time where the ways you can connect with one another are endless, yet you feel less connected with your colleagues. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it?
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.
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. These numbers were corroborated in a poll I conducted on LinkedIn. I found that 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.
When you’re ready to have a value meeting with your boss, you can follow certain steps to ensure that you have a productive conversation. Most organizations across the globe are not having this type of discussion, so it really helps to have a plan in place and all your ducks in a row.
So what is it that will make you stand out to your boss or organization as a valuable employee? When I say that you must achieve more than just doing your job well, I am not suggesting that doing your job well is not important. Conversely, in today’s excruciating work environments, good performance is expected. Your organization is finding less time and spending less money to train you to be a good performer. In her recent Wall Street Journal article, Herminia Ibarra of INSEAD continued to reflect that “Businesses are putting managers in a tough spot. They’re forcing bosses to take on many new responsibilities – but they’re not training them to get those jobs done.”