Wednesday, February 28, 2024

It’s Who You Know: How to Market yourself

Whether it’s a quick promotion or someone that’s struggling to get their foot into the door, there is a common adage that we nonchalantly use use, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Everyone knows a diligent worker that comes on time, gets their work done, has proactive habits and stays back late for the good of the company. Alternatively, we all know someone which arrives late and procrastinates whilst chatting to everyone around them, yet somehow they end up with the promotion.

It’s almost like a scene from a Hollywood movie, except this is often a reality. This raises the question, is competence not necessary? And is success purely dictated by who you know?

Painting the Picture

As of January 2023, major technology companies including Google, Amazon, Tesla, Meta and Microsoft have collectively made more than 45,000 people redundant. A year later, this still continues with other tech companies such as Tencent letting go of a significant portion of employees.

 Why? Because the current state of the economy has placed them in unfavourable position to sustain the number of roles they have.

As a result, they have axed many jobs and are seeking to double-down their investment in artificial intelligence. No surprise, this has been accelerated through the newly trending Chat GPT.

But what does this have to do with who you know? It’s simple, individuals who have created strong and meaningful connections with managers or powerful people are able to quickly get back on their feet or, not lose their jobs in the first place!

This doesn’t imply competency is worthless, in fact knowledge and skills will reward you in numerous situations. While knowing people can help secure yourself a spot, real competency is what shines in the long-term, especially when the time comes to display your knowledge in a complex project.

What if I don't Know Anyone?

Seeing a less qualified person getting your desired job position is a crushing feeling, although it’s not very common. Eventually, these favours will reflect in the person’s performance and negatively impact the business, but if you are concerned about experiencing this, here are a few suggestions.

If you are already a competent person then you have completed 50% of the hard work, the rest entails a few practices to help you stand out.

Firstly, you need to be liked or likeable.

How do you do that? Treating everyone kindly and respectfully is the first step in being likeable, but the process afterwards can be challenging for introverts.

In every business environment, you will notice a few co-workers that get along with everyone and are able to hold conversations, whilst also bringing out a few laughs.

Think of this as internal networking.

Speaking with your co-workers and being on positive terms with all of them is a great method in spreading the good word about yourself. Many jobs are never advertised publically, and are instead filled through the word-of-mouth or via personal connections. 

By creating strong internal linking you vastly increase the chances of hearing about a hidden job opportunity that you might otherwise miss. This doesn’t imply you have to become the party-animal at every gathering, but finding a balance of being professional yet open is essential.

People which can seamlessly do this are known to have higher emotional intelligence, and luckily this is a trait which can be developed overtime.

Sell yourself

Similar to selling a product, service or idea, as an individual you must be able to sell yourself. This means selling your personality and the value you bring to the workplace, which combined presents a powerful proposition.

On a daily basis, we use our abilities to sell and everyone has a unique selling point.

Whether it’s an idea to a friend or a business proposal to your manager, we utilise our best tonality and persuasive ability to accomplish the desired outcome. As an individual looking to stand out in a crowd of employees, taking this approach while networking will make your presence known but keep it subtle and genuine.

Take the Initiative, but Make it Known

Performing your job diligently is an accomplishment in itself and shows your commitment to the company. But sometimes, taking that extra step will push you an inch closer to the spotlight.

Taking additional responsibilities or presenting an idea which becomes successful will do wonders for making your competency known – but only if you make it known. Informing colleagues and other managers of your initiatives will help them to remember you positively when needed, but this is best done casually.

Bring it up in a conversation and don’t brag about it, or else it reduces your likeability.

Use the Tools Available

When you are able to combine likeability, selling yourself ,and taking the initiative, then social media becomes an ideal tool to display it all.

Professional facing social media platforms such as LinkedIn are great for building your own brand. People are more than willing to engage with individuals which know how to market their unique selling point, whilst also increasing your network as more people discover you.

Assert your Intentions

State what you want and how you are qualified to achieve it.

Being direct yet respectful with your communication will lead your manager to reciprocate this towards you. Sitting with uncertainty and letting nervous energy consume you will hinder succinct communication.

Sit down with your employer and establish transparency by making them aware of your goals, then follow-up by asking how you can achieve this. Your direct communication will illustrate motivation and give guidance on the path to reaching your goals.

Afterwards, remember to always thank them.

It Takes Time

Finally, have some patience.

As long as you actively use some of these suggestion, you are bound to step onto the path of a positive trajectory. It won’t happen straight away, but soon enough you will be able to create a balance of what you know and who you know.

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