You can’t mute your way to success.
If you want get ahead, you’ve got to get heard.
THE QUESTION IS: How do you have a voice when you’ve barely had any experience?
Well, you could always lie. Or be the ass-kissing, apple-polishing, precocious youngster everybody in the office secretly loathes.
But if you want to become well known (and known well) in your company, you might try a few of these suggestions for getting heard:
1. Be strategically dumb. They’ll never admit it, but all organizations need energetic, curious people who can come in and ask dumb questions they stopped asking long ago. People who can courageously step back from the corporate canvas and say, “Wait a minute. Does anyone else smell that?”
That’s how you rock the boat without sinking the ship. And if you want to create stunned silence at your next meeting, try a few of these: “Why are we doing this again?” “According to whom?” and “What evidence do we have to support that?”
That’s precisely the advantage of being young: Because people don’t expect much out of you, you can usually get away with asking dumb questions. What do you have to lose? They think you’re dumb anyway. May as well prove them right so they can prove themselves wrong.
After all, if you can make but a few people pause, you win. And so do they. Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you marketing your stupidity?
2. Convince people you can contribute right away. When dealing with skeptical coworkers who doubt your ability, you have to dress your truth in story. That’s the smartest way to make a point and the quickest way to have your voice heard, without involving automatic weapons. As Annette Simmons wrote in The Story Factor, “Storytelling is a pull strategy. It doesn’t tell people who you are, it demonstrates it.”
Your challenge is to tell a story that offers evidence of what people doubt. A story that makes people proud to take the first step with you. For example, if your narrative illustrates specific ways you’ve helped other companies move through problems in the past, people will be more likely to listen to your suggestions.
My suggestion: Keep a victory log. Compile a list of the strongest contributions you’ve made to other organizations in the past. Next, document the urgent, pervasive, relevant and expensive problems you solved. Lastly, practice telling these stories in a compelling, emotional way that demonstrates your ability to contribute. They won’t be able to resist you.
Remember: The earlier you add value, the longer you stick around. What stories are you known for?
3. Instead of ignoring the elephant, try riding it. Hair dye and plastic surgery notwithstanding, age isn’t something you can hide. Face it: You’re young and everybody knows it. The good new is, you can beat people to the punch by speaking directly to the age issue before it gets raised. That way you eclipse misgivings before they escalate into barriers.
For example, when I first started my career as a speaker, I would open my presentations with a quotation from the wise philosopher, Indiana Jones: “It’s not the years – it’s the mileage.”
After a nice chuckle, I’d proceed to share images of my own professional mile markers: Books I published, clients I worked for and results I enabled. And sure enough, people uncrossed their arms and paid attention. And that’s the secret: Before you convince people of your value, you have to understand and neutralize their resistance to that value.
Otherwise your listenability will plummet. How will you disarm the immediate preoccupation of people twice your age?
4. Accumulate acts of value. First, turn yourself into a futurist. Stay abreast of what’s on the horizon. Then, share those trends in a cool way with the people who matter. And be sure to attach why you think it’s meaningful for their world. By doing so regularly, without the expectation of reciprocity, people will view you as a resource – not a rascal.
Second, seek out opportunities to speak publicly about what you love. Both inside and outside the company. By allowing passion to fuel your voice and practicality to fuel your content, your message will become impossible to ignore.
Third, convert your online platform to an ongoing source of education. Instead of blogging and tweeting about your breakfast, ask disturbing questions that catapult people’s thinking. Share lessons learned from mistakes made. By practicing freedom of thought – not just freedom of speech – you position yourself as someone who cares for people and shares with people.
Ultimately, these consistent acts of delivering value will add up. And you’ll create enough good in the marketplace where people will begin got seek you out. Remember: Value is the engine of voice. Are you delivering random acts of kindness or regular acts of value?
REMEMBER: It’s not enough to be listened to.
If you want to get ahead, you’ve got to get heard.
Deploy your voice today.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!
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Friday, April 22, 2011
You can’t mute your way to success.