I’m often asked by associates how can they increase their visibility at their law firm in order to secure a promotion. Here are my five top tips to raising your personal profile.
You’re up for a promotion and you know that you’re ready for the next step in your career. You’re a technical expert in your field and you are known for never letting clients down. You get great feedback, you’re prompt and those who work with you know they can depend on you. There’s a meeting to discuss promotion candidates and it comes to your name.
Ask yourself this question: how many people really know who you are and what you do? The ideal response, of course, is that you enjoy unanimous recognition of your amazing skills, positive presence and general likeability.
If, however, you are unsure of the reaction then what can you do to avoid the worst case response to hearing your name: ‘Who?’
Now is the time to be thinking about raising your internal profile and building your brand and this is the stuff that is not taught. It is learnt on the job, often through a haphazard process of hit and miss. But it needn’t be this way and with some simple steps to follow and goals in mind you can become the person who is well-known internally for all the right reasons.
So what can you do right now to start developing your internal profile?
1. Move around – don’t just sit in your corner, head down and under a pile of paper. Instead of emailing people who work in the same office, get up and go to see them (and think of the Fitbit bonus steps here).
Open plan office spaces make this much easier. If you are the type of person who thinks that open plan working is a subversive ruse developed by those who crave an audience while on the phone and you have purchased some ostentatiously large noise-cancelling headphones complete with Amazonian rainfall soundtrack, then you need to actively fight the urge to hide in plain sight.
2. When you need to go into the kitchen don’t avoid the times other people are there but rather make a point of being in there, with them, making your coffee/tea/Kale-based nutritional smoothie and ‘donning your fedora’ or to put it simply, stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging in what we humans call ‘conversation.’
3. Be personable – attend social events, find out what is going on with CSR and diversity initiatives and offer to help. Take a different route to your desk, say hello to people in the lift/entrance hall/staircase and be interested in them regardless of who they are. After all, you never know who other people know.
4. Write articles and let people know you have done so; offer to attend and speak at internal events; see who is talking to whom as part of the firm’s BD activities (marketing will know) and think about whether you can help in any way – is there a connection to that person, company or their location for example that you might be able to add to?
It won’t always be the case but the more you are seen to be thinking about these things, the more you will be called on when appropriate opportunities arise.
5. Have a plan – ascertain who you need to get to know, find a ‘way in’ and work out when to make your move. Align yourself with those upon whom you may one day rely and seek their advice.
On your list there will be names of those who know you and are likely to be supportive, those who vaguely know you and have no real opinion either way and those who have no idea who you are and yet may well be a powerful supporter.
Equally, there may be those who are less inclined to support you for whatever reason. What is your plan of attack for each of these going to be and how are you going to make people aware of who you are and what you offer?
By thinking about these things now – and they don’t take much time out of your day-to-day work – you will be setting yourself up extremely well for the moment you are asked in a promotion interview, ‘What have you been doing to raise your profile and cross sell within the business?’
Luan de Burgh of the de Burgh Group is a professional public speaker and presentation coach.