How to raise your profile
With the rise of social media there are significantly more ways to raise your personal profile. You can set up and maintain your LinkedIn account, tweet regularly and even build a personal website if you choose to do so. The internet will find you and your peers, clients and future employers will be able to learn more about and find you when they need to. At least that is the theory.
In practice, social media has made it more challenging to stand out from the crowd because the internet has made the pond much bigger. Whereas twenty years ago your market, network and circle of friends was more manageable and contain very few people with your name, the global reach of social media means that there is a vast amount of white noise to rise above before you can make an impact. That said, it is still possible to make yourself visible to the rest of the world and to your target audience. Achieving this, like anything else worth doing generally requires some careful planning and a strategic approach.
Stepping out from the crowd
Like anything else, raising your own profile whether it is digitally or physically requires you to be clear on what it is you are trying to achieve and for what reasons. ‘Raising my profile’ is one of the most common personal goals I come across in coaching sessions but the practicalities of achieving this (or even what ‘this’ is) have rarely been thought through in any more detail.
So question number 1 is: Where is your profile now and where do you want it to be? Like with any personal goal a clear understanding of where you are starting from and what you would like the outcome to be is an important first step that will shape your strategy. Are you not being seen at all or are you seen, but not heard i.e. your opinions and views are not being listened to or are you being heard, but not having the impact you would like?
Similarly, what do you want to achieve in raising your profile? For example, a promotion, more business or greater credibility in your existing role. Raising your profile is an ineffective statement without a clear understanding of the desired outcome.
Question number 2 then is: Who are you raising your profile with? This will help you to determine your modus operandi. You could be looking for senior managers in your organisation who will give you opportunities to progress or, alternately, a wider market base that will take your business to a global level. In some cases this could simply be to connect with influential peers and create the potential to develop new ideas.
Question number 3 is: What do you want them to remember you for? There are three impressions that you can leave behind when engaging with people – Your picture, your music and your legend. Your picture is what people see in their minds eye when they hear your name; your music is the way that you engage with them – do you speak a language where the glass is half full or is it half empty; your legend is what they will remember as your contribution.
Leading nicely on from this is question 4: What is your message? What do you want to say to your target audience? This is a crucial element of the strategy and cannot be left to chance. Do you have a particular ‘hobby horse’ that you consistently talk about with a view to positively improving the organisation. Whatever the message is it must be positive, relevant and consistent if it is going to be heard and in addition it should be challenging and thought provoking if it is going to be remembered.
Question 5 then is: How will you go about it? Will you use social media for this or can you engage physically. The answer will largely be determined by the size and location of your target audience. The tricky part here is standing out from all of the other people who are trying to achieve the same goal. However, your advantage is in having worked out the answers to the earlier questions, so you are in a much better position to determine how to reach your target.
Question 6 is: How will you know if you have achieved it? This question really has to be answered much earlier in the process and covers the metrics you will need to determine whether your efforts are paying dividends for two reasons. Firstly, is it worth continuing to invest your effort in this and secondly are you achieving the goal you originally set. The effectiveness of soft skills is very hard to measure and you will have to accept a little subjectivity here, but assuming you gain the new job or promotion, extend your global sales or increase your network of contacts then you should be able to objectively measure success.
Finally be prepared to adapt your approach as things change. New media will emerge and this will both create an opportunity to adapt your strategy and put your current approach at risk.
Eddie Kilkelly is Managing Director at insynergi, a provider of bespoke coaching, mentoring, training and consulting support to develop high performing teams at all levels within an organisation.