By Scott Ginsberg
Business is bad. Layoffs are looming. Job stability is in doubt.
Will you panic or prosper?
If you want to prosper, remember this three word philosophy: Anonymity is bankruptcy. So make up your mind to increase your visibility, right now.
Here are five ways to do just that.
1. Assert your distinctiveness.
As an employee, the net worth of your human capital is a function of your expertise. So, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:
- What are you known for knowing?
- Who within the organization already sees you as a resource?
- What have you done, specifically—in the last 24 hours—to amplify that expertise within your company?
Once you’ve identified and valued your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets, the next challenge is to assert that distinctiveness in every possible personal branding touchpoint, that is, questions you ask, answers you give, e-mails you write, meetings you attend, and conversations you hold.
Here’s how it works: Asserting your distinctiveness elevates your visibility. Elevating your visibility attracts more responsibility. More responsibility increases the net worth of your human capital. And an increased net worth of human capital solidifies your job security.
REMEMBER: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a difference. You want people to ask where you are when you’re not around. You want to become so invaluable that your absence immediately becomes noticeable. Employees like that rarely get laid off.
What are you known for? What are you known as? And what hard-to-copy capabilities do you possess that position you distinctively, effectively, and continuously as valuable?
2. Prepare to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength. Even President Obama—during his first month in office—recently owned up to the media for his poor appointee choice.
“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama told NBC News. "I'm frustrated with myself, with our team...I'm here on television saying I screwed up.”
Look, we’re all a bit nervous. And we’re all a bit vulnerable. The danger is when we’re not willing to disclose that vulnerability by practicing radical honesty. So, here are my two suggestions:
- Stop lying. Get out of the habit of mindlessly telling people, “Business is great!” No, it isn’t. Not unless you’re a foreclosure company. Stop putting on an act and start sharing your authentic experience. People will notice and appreciate your candor.
- Own your slowness. Try saying this: “You know, boss, business is actually pretty slow right now. But, I welcome that challenge. And the good news is, I’ve been putting in overtime on a few new business growth strategies. And I’m confident that, with a lot of hard work, we’re going to overcome this slump.” People will take notice of your balance between optimism and realism.
REMEMBER: When you maintain an attitude of approachability, people will respond to you and have more respect for you. How are you branding your honesty? Are you willing to let your integrity take the lead, to become someone with whom others can be vulnerable?
3. Be smart, not a smarty pants.
Yes, human capital is a function of knowledge. But nobody likes a smarty pants. Here’s the difference: Smart people attract others; smarty-pants people alienate people. Smart people are trusted with greater responsibility; smarty-pants are avoided.
Next time you attend a department meeting, consider these strategies:
- Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position, and speak confidently. If you look around, listen, and learn first, your comments will carry the most weight.
- Come out of nowhere. When the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” raise your hand and say: “I have an observation…” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs, and look in the direction of the ONE person who hasn’t said anything all morning—you.
- Articulate your idea. This is the best part. If you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What’s more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience, and quietude will draw them in. In the words of our mistake-friendly president, “Power grows through prudent use.”
REMEMBER: Let go of the need to prove how smart you are by always adding a super-intelligent comment or asking a super-tricky question. You can still be smart—and be perceived as being smart—without coming across as a know-it-all. Are you sharing your knowledge or showcasing it? Are trying to elevate your visibility or do you just want to be the center of attention?
4. Become THE most interesting employee at your company.
Boring people lose. Boring people fade. What’s worse—boring people are ignored. There’s an inverse relationship between how successful you are and how boring you are. The good news is you can become “That Guy”—or “That Girl”—if you learn to intensify your interestingness.
Consider these list strategies to become more interesting in the eyes of your coworkers and superiors:
- Distill your stories; don’t just “tell” them. Yes, stories are the most powerful way to get a point across. But you can’t just tell the story. Figure out the lesson(s) learned, universal human experience/emotion, and practical take-home value for your audience. People will start to pay more attention to you.
- Be passionate. Invest your daily encounters with passion. You will engage, excite, and inspire everyone you meet because the fire inherent in any type of passion is irresistible.
- Be predictably unpredictable. Position yourself and your actions so that people excitedly want to know what’s going to happen next. For example: What if every morning you posted a penetrating, though-provoking question of the day on the dry erase board outside of your office? People from departments you’ve never even heard of would start stopping by to meet you. Think Bart Simpson’s chalkboard. Think unpredictable.
REMEMBER: Nobody notices normal. Nobody buys boring. And nobody pays for average. Those who are interesting get noticed. Those who get noticed get remembered. And those who get remembered get business. How interesting are you? Is being boring costing you job security?
5. Volunteer to be a company blogger.
Whether your company blogs internally for its employees and customers or externally for the entire world, the blogosphere is the perfect venue for sharing your expertise and elevating your visibility to a whole new level.
Follow these steps for blogging brilliance:
- First, learn the ropes. Read Naked Conversations and The Corporate Blogging Book. These two best-sellers will equip you with the knowledge you’ll need to champion your blogging idea.
- Find out who’s in charge of the blogging function. Connect with them. Depending on the size of your company, blogging responsibility may lie in the hands of a team of writers, a few marketing people, or maybe just that 29-year-old wunderkind named Tyler who wears jeans and flip-flops every day.
- Prepare a list of five ways to make the company blog more value-driven, more engaging, and more viral. Then share that list with key players. You might even consider writing a few sample posts to demonstrate your expertise and writing style. Management will notice. Management will listen. Most important, people’s confidence in you will soar.
REMEMBER: Writing is the basis of all wealth. So, if your company isn’t currently blogging, you’re not just missing the boat—you’re missing the bank. Get with the program. If my Pitt Bull, Paisley, can write her own blog, so can you. And, how much money is your company losing by not blogging?
When executed consistently, the above practices will capture the attention of your managers and superiors, who will then have a greater awareness of the asset value you bring to the company.
About the Author(s)
Scott Ginsberg is a regular contributor to the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, INSTORE Magazine, PR Canada,and Expert Village. His articles have appeared in online and print publications worldwide and in dozens of textbooks and resource guides. His books include The Approachable Salesperson, The Approachable Manager, The Approachable Frontline, Hello, My Name is Scott, and Make a Name for Yourself.