Build Your Visibility

Feeling a little invisible at work? Looking for ways to stand out and distinguish yourself from the crowd? It’s difficult to create a strong executive presence if no one knows who you are or what you do. Here are some strategies for building your visibility: 

Daily – 

Nurture your network by making one non-required contact each day. Make a call or send a note.

Weekly – 

For the required meetings you go to, ask what you can bring or how you can help, like taking the meeting minutes.

Find out if there are other meetings you can attend outside of your department. You’ll benefit from other perspectives and can build your business acumen and value to the organization.

Monthly – 

Attend events in your industry both large and small. You can reap different rewards from each.

Volunteer for your professional organizations and be more than a good volunteer, be great. Consider volunteering first for the membership committee. You get to know everyone and can serve as the master connector. 

Search out the associations your clients belong to and go to those meetings, too, to stay current on happenings in their industry.

Arrive early to any meeting, if you can. It’s a prime opportunity to introduce yourself to the board members and speaker. Volunteer to help them with setting up or with the registration table.

Quarterly – 

Get your name in print. Write for trade publications, op-ed pieces, client newsletters. 

Consider attending an event outside your industry. Be the only one there who does what you do!

Annually – 

Attend at least one conference in your field. Conferences provide valuable relationship-building opportunities and can bring you national and international visibility.

Do a presentation or panel discussion at the conference. Opportunities abound for those who can deliver a solid presentation. 

Additional Ideas – 

Volunteer for a special project or task force.

Chair a committee (and chair it well!)

Develop a diverse network of people, including people from all areas within your organization. Be the person who knows where to go to get answers.

Adapted from “It’s Your Move: Dealing Yourself the Best Cards in Life and Work,” by Cyndi Maxey and Jill Bremer.

Free Speech + Civility = A Good Combination

BusinessMeetingDebate061411iStock_0A big dose of civility is what America needs right now, especially when our freedom of speech is under as much fire as it is these days. A civil society encourages dialogue and creates an environment where people feel free to express their views and not be silenced because of them.

Incivility is rampant in our current political process, along with our workplaces, sporting arenas, and roadways, but I’m even more troubled with what I see happening on America’s college campuses. They used to be places where free speech was celebrated, where a diversity of ideas was welcomed, nurtured, shared, and debated. Protests and civil disobedience were not unusual occurrences where a big, messy marketplace of ideas was available to all. Yes, I realize they didn’t always end peacefully, but these voices weren’t shot down by dissenters before they even started. People were given the opportunity to learn and then make their own decisions.

Now, many universities are either being forced to change their policies or have jumped on that bandwagon willingly—cancelling speakers that might have a different worldview, silencing student groups, and turning free spaces into “safe spaces”. Many campuses now have “bias response teams” to investigate claims of students’ feelings being hurt. When did we develop such thin skins? When did we lose the ability to hear others’ opinions and not be personally violated? It’s been reported that at one Big 10 university, resident advisors are being pressured to coerce students into signing an overly-broad “civility pledge” which, when combined with their new “Inclusive Language Campaign”, can lead, in my opinion, to administrative overreach and senseless investigations. Please—do not tarnish the magnificent concept of civility by attaching it to something that borders on intimidation.

Wouldn’t it be better if we encouraged free speech and exposed students to all ideas and worldviews? Wouldn’t it be better if we taught the art of civility which teaches people how to listen well, ask insightful questions, seek to understand, and then ultimately respect the other person’s opinion—even when it’s different than their own? Wouldn’t it be better if we had the skills to handle a diversity of viewpoints and disagreements ourselves, instead of running off to administrations, HR, or the government to step in and regulate it?

I agree with John Marshall, Vice President of Student Services at Colorado Mesa University, who said, “We need to help challenge our students. You don’t have a right not to be uncomfortable. We don’t always need to create these ultra-sensitive responses. We want [students] to think critically and deal with each other with respect and civility.” And I applaud the recent event at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where professors and authors spoke up about the failure of college administrators to respect free speech. http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=7797

Civility is not about silencing other’s views or even successfully convincing them of yours. Civility has nothing to do with coercion, regulation, or pointing fingers. It is about encouraging a marketplace of ideas, where diversity of thought and worldviews is encouraged, and interactions and disagreements with others are handled with respect and grace.

If you need more civility in your workplace, please check out http://theedgeexecutivecoaching.com/training-workshops/civility-in-the-workplace/

© 2016 Jill Bremer

7 Reasons to Put Pen to Paper

thank youThe impact of a handwritten note is often overlooked in today’s “why-write-something-when-I-can-email-it” world. A note written promptly and sincerely is more impactful and appreciated than a phone call, email, or text. Yes, we have a lot of technology at our fingertips, but just because we can do something that way doesn’t mean we should

Handwritten notes and letters are a rarity, which makes them that much more meaningful and cherished by the recipient. When you take the time to write a note by hand, it shows the other person that you cared enough to pull out the stationery and choose your words without the conveniences of the grammar tool, spellchecker and auto-fill! Written notes are also permanent, which means they’re often saved by the recipient and even shared with others.

Before you begin, you’re going to need nice stationery. Business letterhead or a fold-over note card with the company logo on the front are fine to use for relationships that are just getting established. Once you have a closer working relationship with that colleague or client, you can switch to personal stationery.

Here are the 7 along with suggested reasons to send:

  1. Thank You – for the meal, opportunity, gift
  2. Letters of Congratulations – for reaching that work milestone, winning the election, getting married
  3. Good News – for the new job, being promoted, for their child’s accomplishment
  4. Complimenting Someone – for the great presentation, negotiation success, work performance
  5. To Consolidate Contact –you enjoyed meeting them at the conference, you’re looking forward to working together on the new project
  6. To Encourage – if they’ve come through a difficult time or crisis
  7. Condolence – for a death in their family

Do you really want your “thank you” email to be buried within the 300 they’ll receive that day? Your words will have real impact and you’ll stand out as someone with class and sophistication if you put pen to paper!

© Jill Bremer 2016

Test Your Presentation Skills!

th0RV633LPHere’s a quick quiz to test your presentation skills savvy:

1. It’s impactful to walk around as you present. True or False?

2. It’s important to try to make eye contact with each set of eyes in the audience. True or False?

3. It’s a good idea to put an entire idea on a single slide. True or False?

4. Don’t waste time adding in transitions from point to point. Just get on with it! True or False?

5. Articulating the relevance of your topic to the audience is crucial. True or False?

Click here to see the answers (Hint: scroll to the bottom of the page).

Are Emojis Appropriate in Business?

Emojis

The answer is yes—with two caveats that I’ll explain in a moment. Thanks to millennials, which are now the biggest generation in the American workforce, our future communications will likely be loaded with emojis and emoticons. In 2015 alone, the use of emojis tripled over 2014. The beauty of emojis is that they can add what’s often missing in our texts and emails – intention and tone.

A Scandinavian study on email in the workplace found that emoticons/emojis “provide information about how an utterance is supposed to be interpreted.” They serve as cues to context—as markers of positivity, jokes or irony, and as hedges to strengthen or soften our thanks, greetings, requests, and corrections. In the absence of body language and vocal inflection, people will often read a negative tone into our electronic communications. Enter the emoji! They can relay our intention in a straightforward manner when we are unable to do so face-to-face.

Now for the caveats. First, choose your emojis wisely. Stick to the basics, nothing flirty or rude. Second, don’t use them with a client or superior unless they use them first. This is new territory in the workplace and with all new things, my advice is to always be the second to try something new, not the first. 😀

© Jill Bremer 2016

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