8 Steps to Cultivating Your Value to the Business

By Michelle LaBrosse

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You know the riddle that “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If you apply that thought to your talents and strengths, the question then becomes: If you’re doing great things, but nobody knows about them, do they matter? In other words, you need to make some noise in your own forest and make sure people know about it.

Maintaining your image and promoting your work within your organization has many benefits. It will keep you in the game as a must-have player and, perhaps, lead you to additional opportunities and challenges. Before you start promoting your goods, however, you must make sure that you’ve got everything in place.

The best place to start checking your inventory is by pulling together facts and ideas that will position you as a leader in your area of expertise. Knowing and understanding current trends in project management and then finding ways to apply those trends to improve or grow your organization’s business will help you get your name on the “wanted list.”

I’ve put together what I consider to be these eight steps to help you get heard:

1. Aim High - Networking with successful higher-ups offers you two opportunities: free advice and an ego boost. People love to talk about their successes and you can really learn a lot from listening to the journeys of those around you. It’s also an ego boost if someone “discovers” your talents and enlists your help on a visible project. Seek out informal networking events where people are more approachable and able to take the time to talk. These events provide the perfect platform to promote your own successes and put yourself on people’s radar for future projects or considerations.

2. Eat, Drink and Breathe Technology - While each industry varies in the level of technology know-how, your understanding of what issues need to be solved and which technology to turn to will position you as a thinker who is always looking ahead. It also demonstrates your ability to change and be productive in many settings.

3. Know More Than Everyone Else - You can reinvent yourself by researching job postings in your industry and seeking out any buzzwords or new trends in preferred skills. Take classes, seminars or simply read up on the subject so you can speak intelligently when making your case for a promotion or if you are interviewing for your next move.

4. Practice Clear and Concise Communication - Don't make the mistake of thinking that only marketers or communication people need great communication skills. We all need them! How you present yourself makes a statement about you as an individual. You want to come across as knowledgeable and confident, not scattered, unorganized or insecure. If your presentation skills are troublesome, take a course and hone them to perfection. Many jobs are won or lost based on how people present themselves.

5. Protect Your Rep - Your skills will take you pretty far but your reputation will take you even farther. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool. Treat your reputation like the gold that it is. Always promote your recent successes and keep them fresh. You want to be known for always thinking, solving problems or learning something new. Keep yourself in good graces by sending thank you notes after being taken to lunch or participating in an interview. Lastly, be thoughtful about your profile on places like LinkedIn and Facebook. This all contributes to your reputation.

6. What’s Your Story? - You should always look critically at your resume and make sure it weaves a story that sets you apart from others in your industry. Keep your resume updated and ready, even if you are not actively looking for something. Discover and promote your unique selling points and, above all, make sure your resume showcases not just your skills, but also that you are tuned in to what is happening in your industry. Your resume should also give an employer a sense of you personally. If you run marathons or are a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, make sure those things are noted at the end of your resume in the personal section.

7. Negotiate and Navigate - Anyone who wants something should know how to negotiate and navigate. These skills should be developed in a classroom or while taking an online course not in critical moments. Negotiations can help you with anything from securing a job, to buying a car or even getting your spouse to rent the movie that you want. Imagine the possibilities!

8. Have Laptop, Will travel! - Speaking of online courses to prepare you for great things, the wave of online classes provides users with the flexibility and freedom of learning what they want, wherever they want. Do not let the fear of time prevent you from taking a class or getting some training you know will benefit you in the long run.

Make Some Noise

Once you’ve spent adequate time checking your inventory and stocking your shelves with new and improved skills, you are ready to get out there and make some noise about what you’ve got. Be diligent and continue to spread the word about recent successes, newly tuned skills and cutting-edge solutions and you’ll find yourself thriving and succeeding in all that you do.

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.