Key Point: Do not expect people are going to just discover you. You have to let people know how you can add value and declare what you want to achieve career-wise. I remember when I was a young director at a Fortune 50 company. We had 60,000 associates and probably 1,500 directors, company wide. I worked for a small but growing division that had its head office in Seattle. The BIG corporate office was in Denver. One day when I was in Denver for a meeting, I decided just to stop in and introduce myself to the CEO/Chairman. I knew the likelihood of him having a moment to say hello based on the hectic schedule he had, was unlikely. Sure enough he wasn’t in his office but I ended up having a great visit with his executive assistant, and she made a point of letting the CEO know I came by. Three years later I was working for this CEO/Chairman. I’m not suggesting that going to visit him had any direct bearing on me eventually working for him. But you have to “assume the position” you want. Have the courage, confidence, and conviction to put yourself out there!
The other day, a young woman who works in another department, wrote me a note expressing an interest in further developing her career, ideally in my group. I had a vague idea who she was but knew little of her passion or interest. I politely responded knowing any opening was unlikely. As a coincidence I bumped into her in the lobby of our corporate offices a few days later, recognized her name and struck up a conversation. I was impressed with her commitment and passion. I’m going to kick ideas around she might find interesting. If she hadn’t put herself “out there,” I would never have considered her.
Responding to job advertisements by simply sending in a resume, including digital opportunities on sites like LinkedIn, are also unlikely to be sufficient for finding the next step. You need to rise above the noise and make yourself visible. This includes having influential contacts to sponsor you and/or other ways to become attractive on the radar screen. It is only then that you have a chance to match your skills/attributes to the opportunity. Get visible!
- Be intentional. Declare what you want and set a path to make yourself visible to others that can help you in a positive way.
- Recognize that YOU have to be the best salesperson for YOU. If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else? Be a platinum sales person matching your attributes to what is needed.
- Know the difference between sponsors and mentors. Sponsors actively work to promote you. Mentors give you insight and advice. You need both, but a sponsor is often the key to moving ahead career-wise. (One company I worked for knew the executive VP of marketing was a career maker. Everyone wanted to have his sponsorship).
- Do not be discouraged if you don’t get an immediate hit from doing the above. Get yourself out there. Keep improving, and positively self-promote your interest in helping others. One day your value and passion will exactly intersect with the needs of someone else looking just for YOU.
Putting yourself out and into the Triangle,