In less than a 10-year period, I have been fortunate enough to climb from an entry-level role all the way to chief operating officer for an industry leading company. Over those 10 years, I have seen many talented and deserving individuals get passed up on advancement opportunities because they haven’t done an effective job managing one of their most important assets: their personal brand. In today’s hyper competitive business world there are so many employees vying for that next position that it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the rest of the field (even if you are very successful in your current role).
The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to manage how you are viewed within your organization. Below I have outlined some of the basics I have learned along the way on how to increase your profile — in a positive way — to help you to be viewed as more promotion worthy by your organization’s decision makers.
Do you carry yourself like a leader?
As an internal candidate up for promotion, one of the hurdles you must overcome is to make it possible for the hiring manager to picture you in that “larger” role. This is where it pays to exude confidence. Start by being more mindful of your posture. Try to keep a more confident pose throughout the day: head up, shoulders back, and standing/sitting tall. Little things like this can make a huge difference in how you are viewed and received.
Managers and leaders encounter stress regularly. So take inventory of how you respond when stress rises, especially in situations like receiving additional responsibilities, facing a looming deadline, or dealing with a customer compliant. Handling yourself with poise in the eye of the storm is a key characteristic of strong leaders.
Is your communication promotion worthy?
Start to pay more attention to your tone in all of your correspondence. Are you delivering statements and requests with confidence, but without being demanding? When words come out of your mouth, make sure they are delivered with complete belief and conviction.
What about your word choice? Do you tend to use words that hedge or undermine confidence in your message? Speak directly and with more authority. Remove the kind ofs, sort ofs, maybes, likelys, and you will be in much better shape.
Treat every piece of communication as formal. Avoid letting familiarity put your guard down in emails and other communications. The simple guideline here is when it relates to business, always act professionally — you don’t want anyone to possibly think that you don’t take your job seriously.
Are you responsive?
Be extremely responsive to all requests. Develop the reputation as a go-to who is quick to resolve problems and complete requests. It conveys mastery of your job and that you are a committed team player. These are the type of things you want to have associated with your personal brand.
Are you dressing for the part?
Simple things like dressing for the part have a big impact on your peers and management being able to view you in that larger role. Make sure to dress appropriately for the work environment and that next level up. Take note what others at the next level are wearing for guidance.
Is your attitude sending the correct signals?
Have a positive attitude and find the positive in every situation. This doesn’t mean you can’t be critical, but avoid being the negative person that gripes about everything and brings the whole team down. If you don’t, you will quickly develop a negative reputation with leadership that will limit career prospects.
Do you show a willingness to be a team player? Volunteering for projects will demonstrate your eagerness for the team and company cause. Offering your services for helping others goes a long way, especially when there are plenty of people out there who find ways to hide from work. This is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the rest.
Do you have the right habits?
Do the little things to demonstrate that you are responsible, committed, and that you care. This means hitting your deadlines, arriving on time, being organized, taking notes in meetings, being present (physically and mentally) at meetings, asking questions, and attending company functions.
Are you working with your manager?
Demonstrate your ambitions by asking to co-create a professional development plan. Ask your manager for tangible steps you should complete, areas of improvement to focus on, and what skills you should learn in order to make that next leap in your career. Track and report on your progress to your manager on what you are doing — nobody else is going to document your accomplishments. This will make you exponentially more effective in preparing for end-of-year reviews and building a case for a promotion/raise.
Developing a personal brand, just like a corporate brand, takes time. Implementing the steps outlined above will help you gain control of your career trajectory. Good luck on your journey!