How to get oth­ers to see your po­ten­tial

DORIE CLARK

Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

Over­com­ing peo­ple’s past per­cep­tions of you isn’t easy. Years af­ter I l aunched my con­sult­ing busi­ness, I was as­ton­ished to find that ac­quain­tances and even friends hadn’t kept up with my ca­reer tran­si­tion. They’d ask about my past work in pol­i­tics or non-profit ad­vo­cacy, obliv i ous to t he changes that had been con­sum­ing my life. It wasn’t their fault; it’s just not re­al­is­tic to keep up with ev­ery­one’s lat­est de­vel­op­ments. But the fact that they weren’t aware of my new busi­ness meant I was los­ing out on re­fer­rals and po­ten­tial clients. I re­alised I had to en­sure that they took no­tice.

Of course, you can’t just force peo­ple to read your white pa­pers or watch your we­bi­nars. So how do you get oth­ers to re­alise and re­mem­ber what you’re do­ing now – and grasp what you’re truly ca­pa­ble of? mote,” says Jef­frey Pf­ef­fer of Stan­ford Univer­sity. “But iron­i­cally, if you self-pro­mote t hrough t he mouths of other peo­ple, some­how that stigma doesn’t get as­so­ci­ated with you. It’s much bet­ter to have some­one else toot your horn.” If you can af­ford one, you could cer­tainly hire a publi­cist. But an­other op­tion is to find a like-minded wing­man and take turns pro­mot­ing each other. At cock­tail par­ties or con­fer­ences, you and your friend can make a point of men­tion­ing each other’s ac­com­plish­ments or bring­ing up con­ver­sa­tional top­ics where your part­ner ex­cels. It may sound ar­ti­fi­cial, but it doesn’t have to be. Just con­sider it a chance to help your friend shine – and let him re­cip­ro­cate.

In a fre­netic world where we’re all stretched far be­yond Dun­bar’s num­ber (the idea that hu­mans are op­ti­mised to han­dle about 150 so­cial re­la­tion­ships), it can be ex­ceed­ingly hard to get no­ticed by oth­ers – and es­pe­cially hard to en­sure that they’re think­ing about us in the ways we’d like. But we have to take ac­tion some­how, or we risk miss­ing out on pro­fes­sional op­por­tu­ni­ties. By cre­at­ing ro­bust and reg­u­lar con­tent, mo­bil­is­ing so­cial proof and find­ing a wing­man to help spread the word, we can be­gin to break through and take charge of our rep­u­ta­tions in the world.

Dorie Clarkis a strat­egy con­sul­tant and the author of Rein­vent­ing You: Define Your Brand, Imag­ine Your Fu­ture.

© 2013 Har­vard Busi­ness School Pub­lish­ing Corp. Dis­trib­uted by The New York Times Syn­di­cate.

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