Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stand Up and Stand Out

A key tactic to advance in your job and build your own, independent brand is to make a conscious effort to work very hard to establish your value within an organization. When people mention your name, what do you want them to say about you? Are you the guy with good ideas, are you known for your organization skills, are you a leader, are you the technical guru, are you the best numbers guy, the creative genius, a good facilitator, a great writer? Well, you get the idea. What are you known for -- and why would someone want to put you on their project team? Just like in high school when they were picking the dodge ball teams, you want to be the first person the captains pick for their team, not the last.

First, your colleagues need to remember who you are. You need to stand out in your department. You need to be known for something. And I’m not talking about being the funny guy, or the nice guy, or the guy everyone wants to go to lunch with. I’m talking about the guy they want on their project because you add tangible value, they can depend on you, and you’ll help them be successful and get accolades for their work.

The notion that you can get ahead by just quietly doing your job 9 to 5 and blending in is not very realistic (or safe) anymore. You need to stand up and get noticed. This often means being willing to take on risk because you’re going to put yourself out in front, in full view of your colleagues and boss.

To get started, you’re going to go out of your way to look for opportunities to expose yourself. You’re going to step outside your comfort zone. You’re going to stand up and shout “hey, I’ve got an idea,” or “hey, I want to be on that high profile project because I can contribute x.” It means you’re going to work longer hours at the office and home, you’re going to take on more stress, you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night, and you’re going to really sweat because now you’re exposed. They know your name now, and you will be associated with the project’s success or failure. You’ll probably even make some enemies along the way. You’ll also have to develop additional skills like planning, organization, public speaking, anger management, negotiation, and learning how to manipulate people whose work you need to help you complete your tasks. But developing these extra skills and putting in the extra time and enduring the extra stress will make you successful. And being successful will get you noticed. And getting noticed for your contributions and accomplishments will build your brand. And the joy of feeling a job well-done will make the stress, sweat, and extra hours worth it.

So, stand up and stand out. You won’t regret it.

This discussion is presented in collaboration with Rob Main, co-founder of Apojigo ( Apojigo is your own personalized Web space for presenting your professional Profile and Portfolio.

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