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Get on the Boss’s Radar


By Sara Eckel

In the perfect world, the people who quietly toil away in their cubicles would be paid just as well as those who constantly broadcast their amazing achievements. But the truth is that shy, unassuming types are often overlooked at raise time. That’s why it’s important to be sure you’re visible to your boss and other higher ups. “You need to be seen, and your boss needs to be very clear about your contributions. Otherwise, how can you expect to be recognized for your work?” says Nancy Ancowitz, a business communication coach and author of Self-Promotion for Introverts.

Here’s how to raise your profile in the office:

1. Speak up. A University of California, Berkeley study found that people who speak up in meetings were seen as more competent than their quieter colleagues—even when they added nothing to the conversation. If you’re having trouble getting a word in over chatty colleagues, Ancowitz suggests making eye contact with the person leading the meeting and raising your finger. “Or sometimes it pays to just lean forward and say, ‘Yes, Joe, great point!’ and then dive in,” she says.

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2. Become an expert. Contributing to the company newsletter, web site or blog can help establish you as an expert in your particular specialty. It’s also a good idea to come to meetings armed with facts and figures. “Be seen as the knowledge bank repeatedly so that your name is connected with your area of expertise,” says Ancowitz.

3. Eat in. By dining in the company lunch room, you’ll open yourself up to casual chats with your boss and other high-level executives. But don’t squander it on your opinion of the weather. “To utilize the lunch room properly, one has to have information to share,” says Paul Klein, the director of Cleveland State University’s Career Services Center. Read the periodicals and blogs that cover your field. Keep tabs on your competitor’s doings and on new processes in your industry. “This will enable you to talk to your boss on a higher level, while projecting an image beyond what you’re already doing,” says Klein.

4. Enlist help. If you’re generous about giving credit to others—and you should be—then ask for a little reciprocity. “There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘I’m up for a promotion or a raise, and I would love it if you would acknowledge my contributions at the next department meeting,’” says Ancowitz.

5. Step away from the screen. The best way to be visible is to make sure your boss sees you, not just your screen name. “Don’t assume that your brilliant emails are telling your story. Your boss is human, and human beings look for connection,” says career coach Darcy Eikenberg. So make sure your boss gets to see your beautiful mug once in while. If you work remotely, schedule occasional meetings or lunches. “Face-to-face conversations are not passe in our high-tech businesses; they are still the gold standard for developing trust—which is essential for moving ahead,” says Eikenberg.

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