“Bodacious” means to be bold, outstanding, and remarkable. Take those attributes to work and you’re on your way to building a fulfilling, bodacious career. Does having a bodacious career sound exciting to you? It is! After starting as an $8 an hour customer service rep, I rose through the ranks of AOL, accepting four promotions and surviving over six layoffs to become the head of corporate training for 12,000 employees. Along the way I learned I needed to be bodacious to achieve the career I wanted. Out of that experience I created my “cheat sheet” of ten essential Bodacious Career Builders. Here’s number four: Actively Market Your Value
One day while I was driving north on the interstate to speak at Princeton University, a billboard suddenly caught my attention. Amongst all the other colorful billboards promoting products and services that to this day I can’t remember, this billboard was white with some simple black lettering. In large letters it read: Don’t Advertise! “Huh?” I thought. Then I read the smaller writing below the alarming statement: Success is Overrated. “What?! No, it’s not!” my mind was screaming. Now thoroughly engaged, I noticed the smallest print on the sign: If You Disagree, Call This Number. “Brilliant!” I said out loud to myself, “Just brilliant!”
Why did I consider this contrarian statement brilliant? Simple. Because if people don’t know who you are and what you offer, they can’t buy from you. And, without customers you don’t have a successful business.
The same is true for your career in an organization. If people don’t know who you are and your abilities, they can’t consider you for new opportunities or reward you for your contribution.
So, just like a business selling a product or service, you have to actively market yourself in and outside your company to be known. No one can do it for you. If others start bringing up your name it’s because you made yourself known in the first place.
This is where your internal girl good alert might be going off. “I don’t like talking about myself! That’s bragging, selfish and distasteful!” Well, I’m here to say no it’s not! Bragging is being arrogant and big-headed. There’s nothing big-headed about stating what’s TRUE about you, your abilities and your accomplishments. It’s all in the way you say it.
We are all tuned into the same radio station, whether we realize it or not. The station’s call letters are WIIFM what’s in it for me. If you want to be viewed as a valuable player in your company or work group, you must proactively communicate what you’re doing and how it’s helping others. How it helps your boss or an individual. Or, how it helps the organization achieve its goals. Make it about them, make it clear the part you play, and make it positive.
So often I see women (and men) who assume that others know who they are, understand their role, and how they’ve contributed to the company. Most of the time, this isn’t the case! The reality is that most people you work with or reach out to have their heads filled with all that’s going on in their lives and haven’t given you one thought! They aren’t being mean or rude. Their lives are just extremely busy. So, to market your value, you have to do the thinking for them. You have to proactively inform them about you in ways that help them out.
For example, if your dream is to get promoted to the next level in your company, how do you promote the value of your work to your boss? I wrote weekly reports to my AOL manager that marketed my achievements and value to the department. I also photocopied thank-you letters for a job well done and forwarded similar e-mails to my boss. These actions helped him know that I was getting the job done, so he didn’t have to worry, and how people were responding, which would ultimately reflect upon him.
An effective marketing plan doesn’t just do this once or in one way. That’s why I sent weekly reports. I needed to keep tying my latest accomplishments to the department’s goals. In addition to my weekly e-mails I also repeated the same information at in person staff meetings and with individuals when it was relevant to the conversation.
Marketing your value may feel a little awkward at first, but with a little practice to make it feel authentic, the initial discomfort will melt away. Your reward is others viewing you with greater esteem, which sets you up for even greater success. Because, after all, success isn’t over rated, it feels fabulous!
BODACIOUS CAREER BUILDER #4: Proactively communicate who you are, what you do, and how it’s currently benefiting your manager, department or the company.
Copyright (c) 2007 Mary Foley