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Stand out by boosting your visibility

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

When Frank Battiston, a Microsoft Canada executive, meets with managers to discuss succession planning, his focus might surprise you. As his team proposes internal candidates for promotion, Battiston ponders what he knows about each of these employees.

“My first thoughts aren’t usually about whether the candidate is any good at performing their job,” he says.

“I assume they are, otherwise why bother putting forth the name?”

The extent of Battiston’s awareness of a candidate’s work product underscores the importance of exposure as a key to career advancement. Leaders tend to assess employees largely by their familiarity with them—both firsthand and through third parties.

Harvey Coleman, a management consultant, has found that three factors contribute to an individual’s professional success: performance, image and exposure. Coleman argues that performance determines only 10% of one’s success, while image accounts for 30% and exposure governs the other 60%.

Battiston illustrates Coleman’s point. Like many leaders, Battiston oversees lots of superior performers. That’s why he asks himself questions such as, “Do I know what they’ve accomplished?”, “Have I heard others talk about them?” and “In a nutshell, are they visible?” He favors candidates who have written impressive reports or that he’s observed in action.

To raise your profile, apply Coleman’s findings. Take steps to boost your visibility. Examples include speaking at conferences, increasing your online presence and networking more aggressively.

— Adapted from “How To Work Smarter: Three Keys to Career Success,” Denise Cummins,

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