This month on the blog and podcast we’ve been talking all about visibility. We’ve seen that in the busy modern workplace, you can’t rely on others to seek out, recognise and reward your value – you need to take active steps to demonstrate it and bring it to others’ attention. (The crucial difference between “being seen” and “making yourself visible”). We’ve explored how you have a personal brand, even if you don’t think you do – it’s simply how you come across to others – and why it’s therefore crucial that you are active and intentional about how the way that personal brand is defined and presented. (Are you accidentally harming your personal brand?). This week, we’re taking visibility a step further by looking into why and how you should be raising your profile in the workplace – and why this will help you achieve a better work/life balance overall.
As we’ve discovered this month, the key to visibility is ownership. The starting point to thinking about raising your profile is understanding that you, and you alone, have the power to shape how you want to be seen (your personal brand) and project and promote this to others, consistently and memorably.
Raising your profile, then, takes considerable personal commitment and effort. So is it really worth the bother?
Yes! Here’s why:
1. It puts you front of mind with senior colleagues.
Big corporate law firms are pressured and competitive environments. Senior staff are too busy to be actively seeking out or fostering the best candidates for promotions or interesting assignments. If you want to progress, you will need to make your work highly visible and make yourself known and memorable to them first. Big companies cannot be focused on individuals – they need shortcuts. Raising your profile is the shortcut. It’s what puts you front of mind of the person who is making a key decision about who to award a stretch project or promotion to.
2. It differentiates you from the competition.
As you will be aware, corporate law firms are full of high achievers (of which you are one!). However great your performance and/or experience, you will most probably be surrounded by others who are equally talented. Defining a personal brand and raising your profile is a way of marking yourself out from your peers. It can demonstrate a unique angle of expertise, and by making yourself more visible and connected than others, you are more likely to be remembered or picked for opportunities that arise.
3. It increases your skills and experience.
Raising your profile requires you to actively put yourself forward for tasks and experiences that you might otherwise have avoided. Public speaking, training, writing, collaborating – all sorts of activities that will broaden your interpersonal skills and help with other leadership attributes like adaptability, decision-making and conflict resolution. It’s another great example of the virtuous circle. The more you work to raise your profile, the more skills, experience and connections you acquire, the better your skills and connections become, the higher your profile, and so on. It’s a win-win.
4. It makes you more valuable to your organisation.
As we have seen, part of personal branding and raising your profile involves you identifying and defining your area or niche of expertise – and making yourself known for this. A clearly defined area of expertise and level of consistency of performance is uniquely valuable to your company (as well as to you). They now have a trusted expert in a particular area – who they can always call on when needed. They can use your expertise to promote themselves to others. The more valuable you are to your company, the more secure you are in your career, and the more likely you are to progress.
5. It helps you achieve a better work/life balance.
When it comes down to it, however much we want to achieve in our careers, most of us are ultimately searching for a good work/life balance. We want fulfilling careers and fulfilling family and personal lives. Raising your profile helps you achieve this. If you can carve out a niche, and make yourself highly visible, you will be able to influence decisions that affect you. Organisations want to hold onto their experts and specialists. The more well-known you are for your area of expertise, the less likely it is that your company will be able to discriminate against you in the future and the more likely you are to be able to negotiate for the type of work/life balance you desire.
So – there are some great reasons why you should be raising your profile. If you’d like to give it a go, here are some practical steps you can take to help you get started.
1. Identify and define your personal brand and unique value.
(Tune into last week’s podcast episode #40 for tips on how to go about doing this.)
2. Dress for success.
Think about how you present yourself and dress to reflect the ethos of your organisation and the impression you want to create. Take it further and give yourself a memorable feature.
3. Develop a personal pitch.
Have a clear and authentic statement about who you are and what you do and practise delivering it confidently.
4. Promote yourself.
This doesn’t mean bragging, but make sure you and your work get noticed. Take advantage of speaking opportunities – put yourself forward to give talks and presentations, even if you wouldn’t naturally think of yourself as a public speaker. (Stay tuned for next week’s podcast for tips on how to become a better public speaker). Find a way to contribute written pieces to internal communications – get your name out there and seen by everyone in your organisation. Keep a record of your achievements and send a regular summary to the influencers in your workplace.
5. Use Social Media.
Use professional platforms such as Linkedin and Twitter to build your personal brand and raise your online profile. Use the platforms as a way of positioning yourself as a thought-leader and expert in your niche area, promote your experience and build your reputation.
6. Build connections, trust and credibility within your organisation.
Make sure you have a solid track record and earn the trust and respect of your employers. Contribute in the currency your organisation values – perhaps by making a valuable contribution to a prestigious project, making yourself very popular with important clients or by being reliable and dependable in difficult times. Take opportunities to connect with influencers in your organisation and build your professional network. Your value could be rewarded at a later date when you most need the support.
7. Act like a leader.
Even if you are not yet in a leadership position, distinguish yourself as leadership material. Talk and act like a leader – use direct language and not qualifiers or apologetic language. Learn to delegate and show yourself to have a broad understanding of your organisation and how you can contribute to its wider goals.
Raising your profile, then, isn’t an optional add-on. It’s central to achieving your goal of balancing a successful career and a harmonious home life. For more thoughts on what it could mean for you and your career, tune into this week’s podcast, episode #41.