Do you always find yourself volunteering to do work that has no significant impact on the company’s success or your career advancement? Think again. If you answered yes, then drop whatever you’re doing and read on for tips to increase your visibility at work.
A couple of weeks back, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across this golden nugget of wisdom:
The best advice I received in my career is to stop volunteering for the busy work, because people won't remember it. You'll get stuck doing it.— Brittney Oliver (@Britt_S_O) Twitter
Too many women mistake this work for being helpful to their personal brand, but it's not the best way to create visibility.
I was intrigued and felt guilty about doing this at one point in my career so I followed the thread and the replies. In the tweet thread, Brittney further stated that volunteering for the busy work that no one ever notices or that doesn’t contribute significantly to important company projects does nothing to help your career progression. Sometimes, you can find yourself volunteering unknowingly, under the guise of looking helpful, but then you end up being permanently forced into certain responsibilities that don’t fall within your role.
If you want to get promoted, then you’ll need to put in more effort to increase your visibility at work. However, most people confuse this with working more hours and increasing their workload, which is not the case. Doing this will not make the boss notice you, which is also a huge part of the quiet quitting trend that has taken over in the workplace.
Women particularly experience more difficulty maintaining their workplace visibility. According to this study from the Social Studies of Science, women’s contributions and achievements at work tend to be overlooked compared to men, which limits their professional advancement. This could be why we feel weird boasting about our workplace wins to avoid being labelled as arrogant.
Usually, when women go against society’s expectations of how they should behave, they are exposed to professional gender biases. Hence women are called hostile and penalized whenever they speak up for themselves at work. Speaking up is seen as more of a masculine trait and so men don’t suffer as much for it when they do it at work.
This is why you find most women opt to help everyone but themselves in the office instead of taking on a self-promoting leadership style. They might also intentionally make themselves invisible and fade into the background at work to avoid stirring the pot. Such an approach usually makes you well-liked but under-appreciated and it is a lose-win situation. You lose, while everyone else wins.
So how then can you increase your visibility at work while feeling worthy of your value and maintaining your authenticity? You have to be confident in yourself and your skills. Don’t just blend in with the crowd and wait to be noticed. Be proactive about it and take a risk. At first, trying to get noticed at work by highlighting your abilities and achievements can feel awkward. But like anything else, the more you do it, the more natural it feels with time.
Here are a few smart strategies to increase your visibility at work instead of volunteering for unimportant stuff.
Speak up to get noticed
When you don’t say anything at work, be it in meetings, for projects, or even to your colleagues or supervisors, you can easily become invisible. Speaking your mind maximizes your impact and gets you on everyone’s radar. If you have trouble speaking up at work or during meetings, you can observe and borrow a leaf from the people who do. Listen keenly to what they are saying and how they are saying it and find out what keeps you from speaking up.
If you’re supposed to attend a meeting, go through the agenda beforehand and think about some key talking points you can mention during the session. When you go to a meeting unprepared, you’ll find yourself just sitting through it silently, which does nothing for your visibility at work. Start small; you don’t have to talk at every meeting but try to contribute something once in a while and build up from there.
Get involved in important projects
Push to work on projects, teams, and opportunities that will increase your visibility at work and get you noticed. This includes anything that can impact the business significantly or involves collaborating with the company’s higher-ups. Such big projects will give you a chance to utilize and showcase your experience, knowledge, and skills. It also shows that you are willing to put your foot forward and work hard for the company’s success. If the project does well, it will definitely help you make a name for yourself in the company while increasing your chances for a promotion.
Interact more with your supervisors
Developing a good relationship with your boss is another useful way to increase your visibility at work. Make sure you get some face-time with your supervisor frequently and let them know you want to make significant contributions to your team and the company. Find out from your boss if there are any meetings you can take over or sit in on so you can stop blending in at work.
Become an expert in your field
If you want to give your profile a boost at work, establish a reputation as an expert in a specific field within your industry or business. This could mean doing relevant courses, keeping up with industry trends, attending conferences, and creating thought-leadership content. Once you reach that level of expertise in your field, your colleagues are likely to seek your assistance on training or speaking opportunities, tasks or projects.
Use your previous skills
Instead of volunteering for the busy work, ask your boss to give you more responsible assignments. This is much more effective in showcasing that you’re an effective leader. Sit down and make a list of all the skills from previous roles that you’re underutilizing in your current job. Figure out how to start using them again and loop your supervisor in. You never know, maybe your boss needs someone with one of the skills you’ve listed down, yet here you are keeping them all to yourself. Now do you see how speaking up can help you get noticed at work?
Connect with your colleagues
You can’t increase your visibility at work if you don’t actively get to know the people you work with. In fact, this is one of the easiest tips to start with for workplace visibility. Try to connect with at least one new person at work every week. It can be over lunch or coffee. Be proactive and interact with people outside your usual circle. Learn more about them, their work, and their lives to develop and maintain new relationships. This is a great way to make yourself more memorable at work.
Offer support without being a doormat
I know this tip may sound contradictory to everything else in this article, but I promise it lines up. By support, I mean giving helpful advice, offering a listening ear, or lending a hand. Be a supportive and positive team player who knows when to help out your colleagues. If someone else on your team isn’t getting recognition for any game-changing work they’ve done, speak up for them and be their cheerleader. It reflects well on them and on you. Being helpful at work makes you the nice guy, which contrary to popular belief, can help you win.
In closing, if you want to increase your visibility at work, you have to be strategic about it. Whenever you volunteer to do something at work, make sure it is something that showcases your prized skills, and not work that will simply keep you occupied. Always keep your ears on the ground for such opportunities within the company.