Updated: Nov 12, 2020
(Part of the Building Brand You series)
Developing your visibility in line with your brand, reputation or profile is essential. It's not just because it's good to be remembered. It's also good to have people remember how/where to find you so that opportunities, partners, customers can wing their way to you versus trying to hunt them down yourself.⠀ ⠀ It's time for you to step forward and be seen. Here are 4 simple ways to increase your visibility.
1. Stand up
Think about a time you were at an event and the audience was invited to ask questions. What did you do?⠀
A. Slide down in your seat - you have no intention of asking anything!⠀ B. Raise your hand but not get picked to ask your question. C. Raise your hand, got picked (hooray!) and asked your question.⠀ ⠀ If you answered C. that's great - you obviously caught the eye of the person at the front of the room. Did you ask your question from your seat or did you stand up?
Standing up in Q&As has been a gamechanger for me. I’ve stood up in rooms of 100+ people and ending up having great conversations with the speakers as well as having other attendees approach me afterwards – I usually connect with them on LinkedIn and ask to meet further with about an 80% success rate. Adopting this practise will give you unparalleled opportunities to be visible, to be easily remembered and to become a point of connection at the event - in less than 30 seconds.
All it takes is 5 easy steps:
Stand up and wait for the microphone (if there is one).
Introduce yourself using your first AND last name as well as your company.
Ask your question My question is…. ?
Stay standing and say thank you when they’ve finished answering your question .
This might feel scary and uncomfortable but you are building a new muscle and feeling uncomfortable is what happens when we develop new muscles. Just take a moment to think about how long it would take you to meet everyone in the room and assess whether they were good connections for you? Standing up can actually help you sift and sort.
If you are brave enough to build this muscle, you will stand head and shoulders above every other person in the room...simply because so few people do it.⠀
2. Stand out⠀
Standing out can take a couple of forms with the first being visually.
How would someone find you in a crowded room? Do you stand out? Is there something memorable about how you look? Do you smile at people? Do you wear something interesting (i.e. tie, jewellery, colours etc)?⠀
And there’s no excuse in the virtual world either. Think about how you look as one on the screen of many – can people see you? Is your lighting positioned so that your face is illuminated? And if you’ve got your video turned off, what do people see?
Or a good quality profile picture of you?
If you are using video conferencing at all, get a good quality profile picture uploaded onto Zoom/Teams/Skype...whatever system you use!
The second way to stand out is in conversation.
American poet Maya Angelou said that "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." We like to feel heard, interesting, valued. So being interested, asking interested questions and really listening to the answers leaves an impression that lasts well after you've left the conversation.⠀ ⠀ Earlier this year I sent a request to an online stationery supplier for a sample of their stock paper. A few days later a beautifully bound booklet arrived...with a small packet of Haribo Starmix.
What a conversation starter it was and not just with the company itself. Who do you think I tell people about when they ask me for a stationery supplier? And who springs to mind every time I see a packet of Haribos?
Think about great things you've seen others do that you could use to build your visibility:⠀
Who do you see when you first walk into a room? What makes you notice them?⠀
Who do you remember after an event? What makes you remember them?
Remember, being helpful is also a great way of making yourself visible to others so pay it forward. If something has worked for you, share it.
3. Stand in⠀
Have you ever been asked to stand in for someone else? What did you say?
... I don't know the topic.⠀ ... I haven't got anything prepared.⠀ ... I have too much to do/need more time.⠀ ⠀ What might have happened if you’d said yes?⠀ ⠀ A couple of years ago, I received an urgent call from an entrepreneur lab I'd been doing some Storytelling workshops for - their instructor was unavailable for the Leadership session to be run in two days time. Was this something I would step in and do?
I had no material prepared. I was booked solidly with meetings, client coaching calls and proposal preparation. And I was going to have to travel back to London on that very morning to do it. But I said yes, made it work and two days later I led six start-up founders through a 3 hour masterclass on Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Not only were they hugely grateful but as a result:⠀
I was invited to do an extra 3 hour session with the next cohort, so I got more work;⠀
I had calls booked with potential coaching clients, so I got more prospects;
I got a speaking gig at their sister organisation a week later, so I got more visibility; and
I had a set of Entrepreneurial Leadership masterclass materials ready to go.
Saying yes can open up opportunities that were never on your radar. Don't wait to be ready - just say yes!⠀
4. Stand for something⠀
Have you seen the movie Moneyball? It’s one of my favourite stories about standing for something, the tale of ex pro-baseballer Billy Bean who believed that there was a different way to play the game of baseball. As General Manager of the Oakland A's, the team's continued languishing at the bottom of the leader board prompted him to fight for a new approach - he fought the Oakland A's scouts, the team coach and the players - and for some time it looked like nothing was changing. ⠀ ⠀ Then it did. Under Billy Bean's stewardship, in 2002 the Oakland A's achieved a 20-game winning streak, a record that remained unbroken for 15 years. And while Billy Bean never achieved his dream of seeing his beloved Oakland A's win the World Series, in 2004 the Boston Red Sox won the Series using his pioneering technique.⠀ ⠀ I will never forget the story of Billy Bean because I understood exactly what he stood for. Think of others who've been visible by standing for something - Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Florence Nightingale, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs...the list goes on. It's not that you like them or agree with them but you know exactly who they are because you know what they stand for.⠀ ⠀ What do you stand for? You may not know what it is yet but take some time to dwell on the things that light you up, where you feel you can make a difference. It may not feel like a perfect fit straight away but sometimes a favourite jumper achieves its status with some "wearing in". And just like a jumper, if it still doesn't fit you can always take it off and try on something else.
If this year has taught us nothing else, it is the importance of being visible. And the more you build these four visibility muscles, the greater the chance will be that opportunities will show up for you - and probably when you least expect it.⠀
Thank you for reading - if you've enjoyed this please share.
This article forms part of the Building Brand You series.