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NOT Getting Noticed? The Inside Track on Making Your Mark

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on June 8, 2014

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." Bobby Unser

We all want to make our mark. We want to rise above the crowd, stand out, be recognized. We are often in competition for the one big project, the game changing initiative and the strategic breakthrough result. We want to be one of the "chosen ones", a top tier manager.

But what if you're not top tier?

There are other ways to make your mark. Are you willing to try something small, nonstrategic and commonplace?

I attend 2 big meetings every month. The executive team is there plus a host of people from every function. Almost everyone in the crowd sits waiting for their turn, head down, busily multi-tasking on their phone or computer. No one pays attention to any section but their own.

That's your opportunity to make your mark.

In a mundane meeting?! Yep. While everyone else has their heads down: look up and make your mark.

Think it doesn't matter? Think again.

Once upon a time I was a Tier 2 manager determined to compete without a Tier 1 project

I was often a head-down meeting participant. I wasn't assigned to breakthrough projects, so when I attended leadership meetings I would sit silently, shuffling through papers, and reading email while I waited my turn. I thought it didn't matter.

It did.

One day I asked for feedback. I wanted to get promoted and I asked for a breakthrough project. My boss' boss, Bob, told me that he hadn't really noticed me. I was "reliable" but not really "top tier." He had concerns about promoting me to the next management level because he didn't think I could hold my own. He cited examples from the leadership meeting and said I was too quiet.

I was stunned.

I thought I was being productive in a boring meeting. Turns out I was demonstrating how NOT to be a leader.

Bob's words became a challenge for me. I decided if I couldn't make my mark with one big project, then I was going to make my mark more often, maximizing the mundane.

And after hard work and a lot of determination, I got noticed.

Ready to make your mark?

You don't need a project or a team to demonstrate leadership, initiative and creativity.

  1. Create your own opportunities. Pay attention to the mundane. Don't sit quietly reading your email. Engage. If a meeting is unproductive - here's your chance to lead and make it productive. If something is broken, fix it.
  2. Capitalize on situations that others are not. When everyone else is head down - rise up. Volunteer when others don't. Speak while others are emailing. When your leaders compare you to your peers - it'll be no contest.
  3. Contribute even though it's NOT your turn, not your topic. Help facilitate, guide, and correct conversations. Connect the dots when people are missing the point. Demonstrate how well you engage with others and drive the business ahead through influence.

Make a mark more often. Maximize the mundane. And while everyone else is head-down, you'll be head and shoulders above the crowd.

It's nice to be noticed.

Looking for other ways to stand out of a crowd? Take a look at Exceed Expectations: Lessons from a High Achiever

Do you want to make a bigger impact in your meetings? Here's one of Evoke's most popular posts, How NOT to Present to the CEO

Wondering why your results aren't speaking for you? Read Career Myth BUSTED: Your Results AREN'T Speaking for You

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