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Boosting Your Profile at Work Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

So what do you need to get going? It's easy. Just relax, sit back and let the games begin.

Objectives Your goal is to raise your profile internally better than your competition. Without being a braggart or coming off like Jimmy Fallon at the MTV awards. You want to make people aware of you at different levels in your company. This way you'll be on their radar screen when new projects and other opportunities pop up.

Rules Basically, it's a free for all. Friends versus friends. Foes against friends. All vying for recognition. Hey, that next rung up the ladder can only be occupied by so many people at a time. Which is why you should heed the following hints:

1. Find out who's important. What's the buzz on the movers and shakers at your firm? Get hold of an org chart and study it relentlessly. Then tap your grapevine and learn about who the real decision-makers are, and who they rely on for advice.

2. Tickle people's fancies. (I'm not referring to sexual harassment.) What you're doing here is investigating what makes people tick, and then catering to this. Example: if you know that Lucinda two levels above you in Media is the queen of interstitials, introduce yourself by sending her a DIGG about the latest development re: interruption marketing.

3. Build a reputation as an expert. The interstitial queen above: how'd she get known as that? Likely by going deep in this field and then letting others know that she's the go-to gal on this topic. You can do it too by assembling resources and making them accessible to others. Try moderating an in-house discussion group on your topic of choice. Write a worthwhile blog. Build an unbeatable URL list (and keep it updated). Make it available on the company LAN.

4. Volunteer for committees. Is there a new task force forming at work to oversee a special project? Does it need people from different departments? Jump right in and ask to be included. You'll meet new people, have a voice you might not get otherwise and learn more too. Show off your skills and you might just get noticed by the right folks.

5. Try for high-profile assignments. Not always easy, especially if your boss is a ''credit hog'' who hoards the limelight for himself. Things you can do:
  • Ask to present findings from reports at an upcoming inter-departmental meeting.
  • Get your name included on project summaries, reports, presentations.
  • Introduce the mucky mucks to new business prospects.
6. Be handy. Someone at work is always looking for something. You can become the point person. Colleen Clarke, a Canadian career expert and columnist, suggests ''keeping a list of contractors, technicians, equipment and transportation providers, caterers, travel deals and anything else that may help someone in your company some day, sometime.'' Then let it be known you're the source. And put this on your company's intranet so everyone can access it (or add to it).

7. Take a cue from the creatives. The ponytail and tattoo set know the score. Ever see their work portfolios? Impressive, for sure. You should have one too. Printouts of your latest campaign details. Evidence of any new media you've leveraged. Keep this handy for when you're out doing the meet 'n' greet routine.

8. Do the meet 'n' greet routine. I used to stroll around the office with a new issue of some funky magazine tucked under my arm and a bunch of file folders in my hand (for effect only). Nice way to create a chance to say Hi to people whose paths you cross. Or, if someone has an interesting feature on his desk or cubicle wall, stop in for a second and comment on it. It's a good discussion-starter. Other ways to meet others?
  • Ask your boss to introduce you to the honchos.
  • See if there's a mentoring network available where you work and take advantage of it.
  • Invite someone from work you don't know well yet for a professional lunch or coffee.
Eligibility* Good news and bad news here. The good news: anyone can be on the show. No matter who you are, or what your role and current level is, you can go prime time. The bad news: anyone can be on the show. This makes it mighty competitive out there.

Disqualifications Players will be booted off the set if they commit any of the following transgressions:
  • Being an obnoxious, in-your-face pest when it comes to self-promotion.
  • Whimpering away by failing to keep up the volume after starting off with a bang.
  • Overt back-stabbing, sabotage, public insults (leave these for your dating life).
  • Going over your boss's head without permission, and/or making her look bad.
  • Committing one too many mistakes that others see.
Waiver All players agree that by being on the show they give up the right to privacy and the illusion that merely doing your job well and being a decent employee is enough to keep you moving up the food chain.

The Small Print *Not everyone will win. Those who do rise in the ranks must keep up the game or risk obscurity. Limit three promotions per player. Cannot be exchanged or transferred. Winners must perpetually answer skill-testing questions. Purchase required.

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