Finding positive ways to share your successes with decision makers can open doors to new opportunities throughout your career. Even now, there are still ways to raise your visibility and build meaningful engagement in the workplace — even if you’re still working from your kitchen table. In fact, figuring out how to raise your profile while working remotely is likely to increase your ability to stand out. The key is to tune into your driving purpose and marry it to the strategic priorities of the organization, rather than simply seeking recognition.
Of course, doing a good job is critical to career success. But, if you see quality work as the beginning and end of performance, you will miss opportunities for advancement. “Emerging leaders, and women in particular, tend to over-focus on performance and simply doing the job,” cautions executive coach, keynote speaker and former executive with The Coca-Cola Company, Monica McCoy.
“You need to do an outstanding job, but that is only part of the equation. Long-term motivation and success are also driven by your north star, or true purpose, how you are perceived by others and access to champions and decision makers.”
Taken together, performance, image and exposure (PIE) provide a more complete career strategy and can help you get a bigger slice of advancement potential. “You cannot simply do the work and think promotions will come,” McCoy adds. “You have to show up with executive presence, tie your activities to the organization’s priorities, increase cross-functional connections and build a network of support and sponsorship.”
Each of those activities becomes even more important in the virtual environment. Consider this advice from McCoy and watch her Lunch and Learn on WFF Connect
Look the part
Impression management is just as important during video calls as in-person interactions. Perhaps, even more so. “When you dress for the office you send the message that you take your career seriously,” McCoy says.
According to an area of research referred to as “enclothed cognition,” clothing affects not only how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves. In research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
, Adam Galinsky, Ph.D., created the term to describe the influence clothes have on the wearer’s psychological state. In a recent Wall Street Journal
interview, he suggested what you wear might have an even greater impact on video calls because you can also see yourself.
Clothes don’t make the woman, but they can make the woman feel more confident and competent and encourage others to see her the same way.
Executive presence also comes across in your attitude and clarity of purpose. “Present yourself as someone who is resilient and can contribute to high-priority initiatives even in challenging and uncertain environments,” McCoy says. “Now more than ever, organizations rely on people who can collaborate, build bridges and manage their own emotions.”
Likewise, being clear about your purpose and guiding principles will enable you to identify others who align with your vision who you can partner with around shared goals. “When you bring authentic purpose to your career, you are better equipped to weather challenges and to make sound decisions around career opportunities as they present themselves,” McCoy says.
Connect your role to organization priorities
McCoy sees too many potential leaders who understand the strategic priorities of their own sphere of work but lack deep understanding of the larger priorities driving the organization.
“Prior to COVID, I would ask at live leadership events how many people had read their company’s annual report,” McCoy says. “Only one in twenty participants would raise their hand and say they could articulate the strategic priorities of their organization.”
She urges ambitious women to digest the key themes of their organization’s annual report and join quarterly earnings calls in public companies to understand senior management concerns. “Use information from these resources to help focus your job and prioritize projects,” she says.
“Women have a lot of competing priorities in their busy lives,” McCoy acknowledges. “When you connect your personal brand to organization priorities, you can forge strategic synergies between the two.”
Raise your profile
Offering to help, rather than asking for praise, can be key to raising your profile. It is also likely to connect you to critical projects that are important to leaders and offer exposure across functional areas.
Then, you can seek feedback from those encounters, in addition to conducting your own self-assessment and tapping mentors and colleagues to determine if you are seen as competent, confident and ready to take on new challenges.
McCoy also suggests sharing accomplishments through stewardship reports. “When you complete a successful project, create a one-page strategic review that summarizes problems you’ve solved and how you have stewarded resources and results,” she says. “When you provide insights leaders can use, they will call on you as a subject matter expert in that area.”
Build your network
Great leaders do not rise by themselves and McCoy is quick to encourage emerging leaders to invest in relationship building. “Stop worrying about being rejected and start using virtual coffee breaks to schedule informational interviews. Many leaders are more accessible right now for a short video call. Decide who you want to learn from with targeted questions and map out those meetings for the next thirty to sixty days.”
McCoy is also a big proponent of leadership development and networking organizations, such as WFF
, and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). “These connections help you develop skills outside your daily responsibilities,” she says.
COIVD-19 has disproportionately impacted women and, especially, women of color. But by focusing on your key purpose, how your contribution connects to company priorities and sharing targeted results, you can help position yourself for continued advancement.