You’ve had enough…you’re fed up celebrating other people’s promotions and successes.  when’s it going to be your turn?  If you’re feeling like you’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride, read on…

I work with women to help them get the promotion they want, and 60% of the women I work with achieve that within 3-6 months of working with me (and not all are there for the promotion).  

So here are some tried and tested approaches to put you in the driving seat to get your next promotion.  You’ve probably worked out by now that working as hard as you possibly can and hoping for the best isn’t a great option.  Putting some thought into what you do and how you do it is a must.

Be clear on what you want

Your starting point is always where do I want to get to?  You wouldn’t get far in a taxi without giving the driver a destination.  Your career is the same.  Without a vision you have no idea of where you need to be heading and how you need to get there.  It really is the cornerstone to achieve your maximum potential.  Imagining things that don’t exist yet is a powerful tool that the world most successful people often embrace. 

Start by asking yourself; what do I really want?  What would my ideal step up be (no point aiming for something less than ideal)?  I recommend my clients create a vision board to make it clear and exciting.  It’s important to also note that a vision can change as time goes by and what is important to you now may be entirely different in a years’ time.

Then, ask yourself is this (action, next step etc.) helping me get where I want to go? If it isn’t, should you really be doing it?

A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Know your brand

I spend a lot of time with the women I work with to help them get to grips with their brand. Why?  Well your brand is what people understand about your skills, your potential, and where you want to get to.  When you get it right and people ‘get it’, it’s the key to your success.  Think about your senior leadership team in a meeting, and your ideal project is being discussed…what do they need to know about you for your name to be in the box?

Figuring out what motivates you, what traits are you complimented on and what you DON’T enjoy doing can help to define what your brand is. You also need to understand how people see you now.  How do your colleagues and leaders see you? The best way to do that is to ask for feedback.  Questions like…

  • How would you describe what I do?  
  • What do you see as my key strengths?  
  • Where do you see me in 3 years time?

Their answers will help you understand your brand in others’ eyes (make sure you only ask people you trust and respect!)  Then you can understand whether that’s aligned with how you want to be seen.  If it is, great, you’ve communicated your brand well.  If it isn’t, then you’ve some work to do.

One of the ways you can really confuse people about your brand is if you’re the type of person that says yes to everything. People don’t get a clear message of what you’re really good at, so be more careful about what you get involved in and the work you take on.

When you’re in meetings, put yourself forward for activities that align with your brand. 

Shine a light on your brand strengths by highlighting them when you’re giving updates (and feel free to omit or minimise the things you don’t want to be known for).  Learn to say no to and delegate the work that isn’t right for you and your brand.  Make sure you communicate what you want and how you see you would be best utilised to your manager – if you can sell it as a benefit to the business they’ll be behind you.

Using LinkedIN to define your brand can help streamline the process, you can totally cultivate your desired image.  You probably put a lot of thought into your posting (and if you’re not doing any it’s time to start), so it’s time to put that same care and attention into your in-person brand.  Paying attention to the public face of you is the difference between getting noticed for the right things or not being noticed at all.

“Your brand is your public identity, it’s what you’re trusted for.”

Lisa Gansky

Get comfortable talking about yourself and your impact

Do you have a tendency to minimise your input when it comes to updates?  You say something like “it’s all good, we’re on track and we’ll be completed on time” or something equally no-fuss and minimal.  Or you’re quick to give the credit to others and take little for yourself.  The problem is nobody learns anything about you from that type of communication.  And they certainly don’t see your impact.

If you’re on one of my programmes, something I hammer home is…Every communication is an opportunity to grow your brand and help people learn something helpful about you that can result in a future opportunity.  There’s a reason the moaners and mouthpieces usually get the best opportunities, they are memorable.  They communicate (albeit badly), and annoyingly that’s better than too little communication.  They get heard and get remembered.

Now I’m not advocating that as an approach!  But if you communicate what you are doing, the impact you have, and the value you add…then you’ll be remembered for the right reasons.

To get what you want you must help others see it. If you show you’re the obvious choice, then it will happen. You do that by communicating your value and impact. 

Get comfortable communicating…

  • your vision and how you could have a positive impact
  • what your strengths are and how they can be better utilised in the business you’re in
  • your results – quantify and evidence whenever you can
  • and when you’re giving an update shine a light on the challenges and problems you’ve resolved to get the result
Remember, nobody will know unless you tell them!  Use your time, take up space.  Minimising your impact doesn’t serve you or your company.

“You have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus and what you believe in.”

Anna Wintour

Invest in the right relationships

We’ve all heard ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’.  It’s true, we only go far when we have the right people in our corner.  Your relationships are crucial.  Effective networking isn’t about connecting with hundreds of people, it’s about investing in the important people in your life, and they will reciprocate.

So where should you focus your attention?  Here’s the top 3…

  1. Top of the list has to be the relationship with your manager. They have the power to make or break you in your current role (if they do the latter…run, fast!).  Spend time understanding how they like to work, to be communicated with, what their priorities are.  And of course let them know what you want and how you can help them achieve their goals (and you yours).
  2. Identify the senior people you need to see you and who can help you make things happen. How can you get more time with them?  What can you do to be seen by them?  Go for it!
  3. Identify a mentor that you respect and that could potentially become a sponsor. I like to audition mentors by asking various people for advice and seeing who inspires you and who you connect with.  You can build this into an ongoing relationship by following up and feeding back the impact of their advice and asking for more.

What’s most important is that you make time for relationship building.  Put it on your to do list every week!

In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.

Zig Ziglar

Increase your visibility

So you’ve got your brand nailed, you’re communicating it, you’re working on your relationships…now it’s time to get more VISIBLE.  Everyone is busy and few people are paying anywhere near the attention you need to be seen. Time to take it into your own hands. There are so many things you can do, so here’s my top 3 that I challenge my clients to do to get started…

  1. Get on LinkedIn. Get your profile in shape.  Connect with people.  And comment and post!  It’s a social platform, be social.  Think about what you want to be known for and act on it.
  2. Present as much as possible. It’s a smart way to advertise your brand and your brilliance.  Present to your team, to the business, to the leadership team.  And take it beyond your organisation.  What conferences and other platforms can you make use of?
  3. Set up 121’s with people – especially your manager and senior leaders.  Make sure they know who you are and what you’re doing!

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.”

Margaret Cho

Taking that next step up requires you taking responsibility.  If you want great results, make it a priority.  Investing in your career is something that will pay dividends forever.  I’ve had clients go on to have multiple promotions in a year because they have mastered how to show their impact. 

If you want to know why you aren’t getting promoted, take this Quiz, it can offer you some clarity and strategies to make it happen!

And you really should check out my Career Audit, where I can help you get a clear plan for career success!