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Question: I can’t seem to get promoted, even though I am well-qualified. My performance evaluations are excellent, and I have received numerous awards. The company posts promotional opportunities so that anyone can apply, but the “winning” applicant always seems to have been selected in advance. Obviously, politics plays a great part in these selections, and I am not a political person. I do interact with people, but I just don’t do it with an agenda in mind. How can I get ahead? —  No Way Out

Marie’s Answer: If you have been passively waiting for management to notice your potential, then that strategy obviously isn’t working. To increase your odds of moving up, consider these suggestions:

•    Job posting can ensure that vacancies are advertised, but familiar candidates often have an advantage. It’s simple: The more we know about someone, the more comfortable we feel predicting his or her behavior. If the people making promotional decisions are aware of your abilities, you are more likely to be selected. 

•    Start thinking strategically about your career instead of just watching the job boards. What positions interest you? Do you know the key managers? Are they aware of your accomplishments? Have you discussed your career goals with them? 

•    You say you don’t interact “with an agenda in mind,” but that’s exactly what you must do to increase your promotional chances. Seek out opportunities to demonstrate your leadership potential. Use key managers as advisors and mentors. Find appropriate occasions to ask intelligent questions or share interesting information.

If you are quiet and reserved by nature, raising your profile may feel uncomfortable. But people, who quietly wait to be discovered, often wait a long, long time. 

To evaluate your own networking abilities, see How Good Is Your Network at Work?

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