Most professionals are interested in a career trajectory that points upward, with regular steps along the way that are marked by promotions. The goal is to increase the pace with which we receive promotions, thereby increasing the angle of growth. See how that geometry class can come in handy? To accelerate the process and achieve regular promotions to roles of increased responsibility, focus on these six personal branding factors.
To be successful, you need to help make your boss be more successful. That means getting clear on what your boss needs and wants, and how she likes to work. Know the things your boss doesn’t like to do that you enjoy and are good at. Offer to take things off your boss’ plate. Communicate in a way that works for her (medium—video calls, email, instant messaging; duration—short burst of information, longer meetings covering lots of topics; frequency—regular daily check-ins or less frequent but longer interactions). Honestly tout your boss’ greatest skills and accomplishments to others, too. When you use what makes you exceptional to make your boss’ life easier, you showcase your brand and demonstrate skills that say “I’m ready for a promotion.”
Executive Coach Ora Shtull reminds us, “Your boss is human too. That means that just like the rest of us, they too need validation, acknowledgement and praise. The adage ‘See something nice, say something nice’ pertains to your boss too.”
Those who get promotions are usually not the self-centered, me, me, me people in the company—even if self-centered people are sometimes excellent performers. Promotions are often reserved for those who show their commitment to—and support of—those around them. Employees who always want to go it alone can be bad for the company in the long run. Instead, being the person who acknowledges, mentors and supports others demonstrates that you have true leadership skills. Be a team player. Focus on your colleagues, clients (internal or external) and pretty much anyone in the organization. Offer to take the new hire or intern under your wing. Become known as the glue that keeps the team connected and moving in the right direction. Your boss will take note, as will other leaders in your company.
Ora adds, “If the notion of ‘tooting your own horn’ is challenging to you, start by ‘tooting your own orchestra.’ Your orchestra is made up of the people you work with, and for, on projects. Tooting them means shining the spotlight on their accomplishments. When you point out a colleague’s success, you’ll shine too.”
Always bring your A game. We experience A game people from time to time. They seem to always be on. Engaged. Making things happen. Sure, everyone can have a bad day, but when that’s a rare exception to your normal approach of giving it your all, all the time, people only remember your tireless commitment, endless energy and eagerness to support the team and company mission. Don’t let mediocrity become one of your personal brand traits.
Adopt a habit of talking about yourself—your best self—by highlighting results, without pretense or exaggeration.
Let’s face it, meetings are the most powerful personal brand builder there is in the corporate world. They provide a forum to share your ideas, expertise and support of others. They’re the place where you’re most visible to those you seek to influence and impact. Be prepared and contribute value so you become known among meeting attendees as the person who makes meetings more productive. And to the point above . . . commit to making all meetings matter. You can’t be on fire for some meetings and an almost invisible wallflower in others. You need to always make your mark and contribute value.
Meetings are the most visible platform for demonstrating that you’re ready for that next step—or not. If you’re scrolling though phone messages while others are participating, you’re ignoring brand-building opportunities. Asking a simple question can make you shine like a leader in meetings. Listen closely for gaps in thinking or solutions. Trust yourself to ask the question that can make a difference in the meeting’s outcome.
Those who get promoted are always learning and growing. The speed at which business is changing is accelerating. The only way to stay relevant is to embrace the change and apply it to what you do. This means being on a continual learning mission. The past two years have shown just how many changes can enter the workforce simultaneously. Just to name a few: The introduction of more and more technology, like AI, robotics and data. The need to demonstrate value when working from home. The mental health challenges of colleagues who are feeling untethered and a loss of connection. The importance of achieving greater diversity, equity and inclusion. The need to master video as a primary communication tool. By keeping your skill set honed, you can become the navigator leaders look to in any storm.
Ora cautions us not to be quiet about our achievements in the realm of learning. “It’s always a good idea to keep your target up-to-date on all things you—how you’re growing professionally, the special projects you’ve taken on, and your significant contributions,” she observes. “If you focus on the indisputable facts of your efforts and achievements, it will never sound like bragging.”
Make sure you’re aligned. Be in the right role at the right company for you. This is perhaps the most important factor. It’s more difficult to get promoted when the fit is not there. And a promotion is not necessarily going to fix any challenges you’re experiencing. This is the last factor I’ve included, but it’s the most important one. Do an assessment by asking yourself these questions:
- Is this company right for me (I feel inspired, it aligns with my values, I enjoy my job)?
- Are my efforts appreciated, and do they contribute positively to the company mission?
- Are there opportunities for growth that match where I want to take my career?
- Could I see myself being happy and productive here for years to come?
As the Great Resignation continues, and people at all levels of high-profile organizations leave to pursue other roles or entrepreneurship, there is an abundance of opportunities to get promoted. Make sure your name is at the top of the list by focusing on these six areas.