Top 10 Ways Successful Technical Women Increase Their Visibility
Increasing your visibility is important for advancing your career. Below are ten things that highly successful women say they do in order to increase their visibility throughout the company, industry, and technical community.
- Work on projects with direct business impact
- Take risks and "step outside your comfort zone"
- Choose or ask for assignments that allow you to demonstrate your technical abilities
- Seek mentors and sponsors that have organizational clout
- Develop a strong network and continually look for ways to diversify it
- Look for internal and external opportunities to speak and present
- Serve as an internal advocate and mentor for others -- both women and men
- Know what you are good at and promote that about yourself
- Try to work with and for managers who have a reputation for considering their employees' perspectives, needs, and talents in decision-making
- Keep up with emerging trends and technologies so that you can take advantage of key opportunities when they arise
Choose roles that are strategically important to the business, and be clear about how your work fits in with company goals. If you are not clear, ask mentors who can help you understand the big picture.
Ask for opportunities that will stretch you professionally. Research shows that women can be harsher critics of their work than men and that this can prevent them from applying for positions even though they are highly qualified. Remember that, when taking a new role, you are expected to grow into it; you don't need to have all of the answers before beginning.
Look for opportunities across the organization where you can use your technical strengths to add value to a team.
Mentors help advise you on your career and company culture. Sponsors advocate for you, making sure that your work is visible to influential people in the company. It is important to have a variety of mentors and sponsors. Make sure your manager, mentors, and sponsors know your career goals.
Ask yourself what kinds of skills, knowledge, or opportunities are missing from your existing networks. Participate in cross-functional, cross-organizational projects to diversify these networks in ways that close skill and knowledge gaps and accelerate your future opportunities.
These opportunities can help you demonstrate leadership and raise your visibility. Let mentors, sponsors, and colleagues know that you are interested in these opportunities and ask for suggestions for appropriate speaking venues.
Junior women and men benefit from having male and female mentors. Mentoring also can be a rewarding way to grow professionally and to expand your leadership skills. Make mentoring a part of your performance goals so that you are recognized in performance evaluations for this contribution.
Consult with mentors, your manager, and other colleagues you trust about different wording or ways to "pitch" your talents. Develop a succinct way to describe your strengths in a variety of situations.
Your immediate manager has a significant impact on your daily work life and ultimate career path. Talk to other employees you trust to get a better sense of how different managers and teams operate.
Tell your manager about skills you'd like to develop. Together, create performance goals for developing these skills and make a plan to meet these goals. See if your company offers flexible time, monetary support, or other kinds of support to attend professional development opportunities.
This resource was produced in partnership with the Visibility Team of NCWIT's Workforce Alliance.
The Anita Borg Institute provides a wealth of information for technical women. Check out their "Ask Jo" columns for more career tips. Also visit www.ncwit.org/midcareerguide for more NCWIT resources for improving conditions for women in technical organizations.