For people willing and able to navigate the politics and complexity of a large organisation, the career benefits can be enormous. Often they come with leading edge technologies, recruit the sort of talent that can provide you with access to mentors and colleagues to drive and inspire you and offer the back office support that lets you get on with your actual job. The trade-off we hear about regularly from our clients is that it’s easy to get buried and hard to make your mark. If you’re considering your next move and wondering how to avoid looking like just another Account Executive, Program Manager or People Leader, you may wish to consider the following strategy..
Excelling at your job, whilst collaborating rather than competing with your colleagues, is a critical platform on which to build any career development strategy. With that in mind, another strategy, which should ideally be started at least a year ahead of any major career move, is to build a niche. In the face of the generalism of a large organisation, the niche strategy is a way of ensuring that there is a subset of roles for which you are the unassailable specialist. This can be equally effective whether the next move is an internal promotion or a bid for a different organisation.
This niche needs to be something you really care about. As you will see, the strategy involves staying engaged with the area across a range of online forums as well as providing commentary and even sometimes pro-bono expertise. This will get old pretty quickly if it’s an area of only marginal interest.
As well as taking up opportunities internally, this strategy involves developing your own perspectives and theories about the subject and then using a forum such as LinkedIn to begin regularly posting about the subject. In the most labour-intensive version, some people launch their own websites, not promoting themselves directly but hosting a forum, with themselves as the convener and arbitrator, gradually becoming seen as an authority. This tactic can be further developed by providing free advice, in a limited way, so that they begin to be seen as the go-to person on the subject.
This sort of work is at the heart of how we approach personal brand management at Wordsmith Consultants. Rather than trying to figure out what kind of shirt you should be wearing and taking up each and every opportunity to speak on any subject in front of those further up the food-chain, this plan requires selectivity, specialisation and persistence. It’s not going to get you every job out there but it may just be the difference in building a unique value proposition.