High Impact Self-Marketing for Your Career
Quality sells? Not really. Quality is a necessity for long term success, but quality alone does not suffice to guarantee success. This is not only true for products or services, but also for yourself at work.
Let me ask you: who gets promoted in your organization? The people who deliver the best performance or those who are perceived to deliver the best performance?
“Do good things and talk about it,” said a former boss of mine. Although I was not very excited about the idea of self-promotion, I had to admit that he was right. At that time I worked with a large multi-national company. At headquarters the company was divided by a public road into the North site, where manufacturing and engineering were located, and the South site, with the marketing & sales functions. My colleagues at the North site often complained that the people on the other side of the road got better paid. That was neither a joke nor a coincidence: people who are good at marketing and selling products are also good at marketing and selling themselves.
Today, I still make these experiences in my executive coaching practice. I work with some brilliant people who have outstanding technical and professional skills. Unfortunately, outside their teams others are often not aware of their performance. Mostly this is the case for people in typical technical jobs with a background in natural sciences or engineering.
If you are among these people who are doing a great job but who are not great at marketing themselves, be aware of the consequences: if the decision makers in your organization are not aware of you and what you are doing, you will be skipped when it comes to the next promotion. You will also struggle during your salary increase negotiations, and you have to keep in mind that in many industries the next round of headcount reduction is inevitable…
Producing great quality work behind closed doors is not enough in a competitive business environment. Part of your job description is to make your work visible. If I pay you a high salary, I want to see a return on investment for that salary. And it’s your task to convince me that you are worth the investment.
One of my executive coaching clients put it into a simple formula:
Success = Performance x Perception
Isn’t that true? The good news is perception management is a skill that can be learned!
Here are three key actions for you to take that will help you position yourself better in salary negotiations and to make sure you’re next to be promoted:
1. Build Powerful Networks and Expand them
Whereas networks are crucial for everybody, I noticed that particularly expats underestimate the importance of networking. They make the mistake of not nurturing and nourishing the connections with their home-countries. Yes, during your expat assignment you are very busy and there is little time for small talks. But neglecting network maintenance comes at a significant risk: in global organizations you are initially told that an assignment abroad is a prerequisite for your career advancement. In reality, many expats are simply forgotten at headquarters, and the dreams of a great corporate career turn into a nightmare. As an American Vice President in Korea put it: “out of sight out of mind.”
When you are on an assignment abroad, make sure you keep contact with your network in your home-country. Expand your network to key decision makers. Use opportunities to meet them in person and let them know about your and your team’s achievements. Copy them on emails with your success stories. Keep them informed about what’s going on, and provide them with some local insights they were not aware of before.
2. Turn your Monthly Report into Effective Sales Brochures
Annual reports of global players are excellent sales brochures from which you can learn. According to a Harvard Business Review article managers spend up to 40% of their time writing reports. Learn to communicate with impact and turn your reports into sales brochures. Look at how data are presented in great annual reports and adopt this style to spice up your numbers. Pay attention to what is said and what isn’t. This is not about manipulating or hiding. It’s about highlighting what matters and present yourself and your great results in the proper light.
3. Boost Your Presentation Skills and Impress Your Audience
“99% of presentations suck”, says Guy Kawasaki in the foreword to “Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds. Unfortunately, I can confirm this number. That’s a shame, because hardly anything else can have a more positive impact on your self-promotion than a great presentation or speech in front of the right audience. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” says Maya Angelou. So, invest some time and sweat to improve your presentation skills. Look actively for opportunities to present your and your team’s results to the decison makers in your organization – and make them feel impressed about you!
How do you do this? Work your way through “Presentation Zen“ and “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience” or join your local Toastmasters club to practice and improve your public speaking skills.
Remember that “performance” remains part of the success equation. We are talking about adding effective perception management to the great results you produce anyway.
Remain authentic and ethical, and enjoy the process of turning yourself into a marketer of yourself!
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