Have you ever felt stuck at the same level for too long in your company? Do you feel your talents are wasted in your current position? Here are four ways to show the top brass what you're made of and get the attention you need to move up in the business world.
1. Show that you understand you are part of a team
The secret sauce of getting noticed and promoted is simple: see yourself as part of a team and always be ready to give the team what they need. This begins with showing up. From your first day on the job, people learn whether they can count on you. Once you've completed your training, take the initiative. Participate, volunteer and speak up. Raise your hand. Sign up.
Does your company have after-hours socials or corporate events outside of work? Go or volunteer to help set up. If your company doesn't promote social mixing, volunteer to head the committee. The more you are counted on and relied upon, the more your name will come up.
2. Be the first to do something
When building my brand, I intentionally looked for what I could be "first" at. Explorers look for ways to raise the bar, asking themselves, "What mountain hasn't been scaled?" I soon realized a blind TV host hadn't been done. So, I filmed a televised version of my radio show. There were logistics problems with my vision we had to solve. I can see contrasts, for example, light versus darkness, but not colors. We used three cameras on set, each with red lights I couldn't see. The question became, "How will Nancy know which camera to look at?" We decided to use earpieces so the director could coach me to look in the right direction.
A YouTube viewer pointed out that I looked up instead of into the eyes of the viewing audience. I wasn't hitting the mark. After researching available technology, I ordered a ring light, a white light surrounding the camera. Problem solved.
This hack didn't solve the teleprompter problem. I had to introduce guests. I decided to do heartfelt, spontaneous introductions based on pre-production interviews. Besides nailing a first, I learned to conquer a fear I'd always had, destroying the notion that my vision loss would keep me out of television.
You might become the first person from your department to make a presentation to the executives. You could suggest ways to streamline a process that proves difficult for customers or employees in your organization — and impress the higher-ups.
3. Learn how to talk about what you do
When I was in the real estate business, I attended a seminar where we learned to paint a picture and tell a story every time we were asked the basic question, "What do you do?" I have to admit I usually told people I sold real estate. The speaker challenged us to use language to illustrate the mission of our lives. His sample response was, "People come to me with dreams of having a house of their own; they're usually dealing with financial stress or credit problems. I specialize in helping first-time homebuyers."
One way to get noticed is to change your job title internally to match the service you provide or your personal mission while on the job. Your title might be "Expeditor," but you could tell people, "I make sure everyone at headquarters has what they need." It's never too early or too late to prepare some brief but effective stories about yourself, revealing your passion and experience. You may think you don't have these stories, but you do. When I opened my real estate business, I was losing my vision. I often arrived hours before a showing to memorize the house's layout. I have funny stories about my clients hearing the bang of my head against a wall or the sound of me rolling down the stairs when I forgot about the sunken living room. Self-deprecation makes people feel comfortable. It's also a great way to get noticed for the right reasons.
4. Have simple, memorable signature branding that works
Icons have iconic branding. It was a no-brainer for Michael Jordan to endorse a sub-brand of shoes. Air Jordans looked as though they would send anyone flying toward the basketball goal in style. Garth Brooks wore a large cowboy hat. Branding needs to be simple and easily recognizable. You can also have a jingle or mantra, something like Greyhound's "Leave the driving to us" or "Nationwide is on your side."
Use easy abbreviations (IBM, AT&T) that become iconic over time, create a story for each letter, or convey a message by spelling something with the letters, such as the company name of the voice accessibility technology I use. "JAWS" stands for "Job Access With Speech," illustrating the software using its virtual jaws to speak to and for me.
It's never too late to create your brand or reinvent it. Remember to have fun with the process of syncing your messaging and style to make it your own.
Getting noticed requires being comfortable in your own skin, getting involved with your company, reflecting on your true mission, and showing you care about how business is done. It happens when you are willing to fill the gaps and take the initiative. When you make people feel comfortable, and you put the needs of others before your own, you will become a stand-out in business, moving forward with confidence toward ever-greater successes.