Have you ever been told by someone you just met that “your reputation precedes you”? No? Well, it’s time to make some changes so you start to get noticed for all the hard work you’ve been doing. Being recognized as a competent professional is integral if you want to climb the corporate ladder. If your goal is to move up in the world, you can’t allow yourself to fly under the radar. Take the following words of advice if you want to start being noticed by the people who can help you reach your full potential.
1. Back Up Words With Actions
If you want to build up your reputation, you have to talk the talk and walk the walk. Obviously, you need to be competent in your job if you want to have any chance of a promotion. But you also need to be able to talk yourself up, as well. You might think it’s better to be humble about your performance, and for the most part you’re right—no one likes a braggart. However, there are definitely times when you need to step up and take credit for the effort you’ve been putting into your work.
Of course, you don’t want to be the person who spends all his time talking about all the good things he does for the company, either. Chances are, while you’re going on and on about what you can do to help the company, someone else is actively working on improving it. You definitely want to be able to talk a good game, but it’s more important that you’re able to put your plans into motion.
2. Help Others Reach Their Goals
It might be hard to do when you’re stuck in a cubicle by yourself for most of the workweek, but you need to realize that when you work for a company, you’re a part of a team. While your individual accomplishments certainly affect your reputation, your supervisors will also be looking to see how well you work with others. Your boss will notice that you’re always willing to help a colleague out with a project they’re struggling with, especially if you do so on your own time, such as during lunch or afterhours. Sometimes putting a little effort into helping others reach their goals will go a long way toward building up your own reputation.
3. Build Others Up
Along with helping others reach their goals, you should also be a highly motivational member of your team. Coming to work every single day with a “can do” attitude will almost assuredly put you in the spotlight within your company. Do everything in your power to be the opposite of toxic employee. Look for the positive in every situation you face. It’s especially important to keep a positive mindset when you or your team is faced with adversity or failure. Don’t allow yourself or your coworkers to get discouraged; it will only lower the team’s future performance. Keep your head high, and (hopefully) everyone will follow your lead.
4. Go Above and Beyond
You’re never going to get ahead in life by clocking in at 9, putting minimal effort into your work, and clocking out at 5. If you want to improve your reputation, you should be the first car in the parking lot in the morning, and the last one to leave at night. Skip your lunch breaks when necessary. Go the extra mile wherever possible in order to ensure that a project is not only done right, but is done to the best of your ability. Sure, you’re most likely not going to be paid any extra (at least for now), but by putting your all into every task you accomplish, you’re setting yourself up for huge gains in the future. Think of the extra time you’re putting into your job now as an investment that will ultimately pay off in the long run.
5. Dress for Success
Full disclosure: I absolutely hate the idea that you should have to dress “professionally” to get noticed. But unless you’re Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and your reputation really does precede you, you’re not going to turn any heads wearing a turtleneck or plain grey t-shirt to your office job. The way you dress tells a lot about what you think of the company you work for, and how seriously you take your job. Take the time every morning to dress to impress, and make sure you’re presentable otherwise (clean hair, clean shave, etc.). Consider the possibility that today might be the day you meet the CEO of your company. You want to make a good impression, right? And it won’t matter if nine out of ten times you wear a button-down shirt and tie; you know the one day you wear jeans and a polo will be the day the big man shows up. Don’t let that happen to you.
6. Exhibit Positive Body Language
This goes along with the last point about dressing well. How you present yourself is how you will be perceived. If you’re constantly exuding an air of grumpiness, or if you always appear frantic, your boss will notice. On the other hand, he’ll also notice if you appear nonchalant and aloof throughout the workday. Do all the things your mother taught you when you were younger: during conversation, sit up straight, make eye contact, smile and nod. Approach others with a hearty handshake and friendly vocal inflection. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.
7. Have Integrity
Your supervisors and managers got where they are because they are good judges of character. They can smell a phony from a mile away. Don’t be a brownnoser or “yes man”; you’ll be exposed sooner or later. And definitely don’t be that person who seems as if he’s putting in a ton of effort, but is really cutting corners everywhere he possibly can. While you most likely act differently when you’re at work than you do at home or when you’re out with friends, it shouldn’t be a complete transformation. Don’t just be the employee that deserves a promotion; be the overall person who deserves it.
8. Be Likeable
I suppose it’s pretty obvious, but if you’re not likeable, word will spread quickly to stay away from you. Like I said before, nobody likes a grumpy or gloomy Gus. You don’t have to be Chris Traeger or anything (I doubt anyone can be that chipper 24/7), but you don’t want to be Ron Swanson, either. Be approachable and genuine. Share in people’s triumphs, and be there when they’re feeling low. In short: be the person you would like to see in the position you want to have.
Every single person has some sort of reputation that precedes them. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on how that person acts toward others, how he presents himself, and how he carries himself throughout each and every day of his life. Though you can’t control what anyone else thinks, you should do everything you can to make them see the best of you every chance they get.