Last week, I had the honor and pleasure of serving as a mentor at the IBM Toronto’s Women’s Mentoring event. The event allowed the participants the opportunity to ask all types of questions about various aspects of their work and careers, within a collegial and supportive environment.
Among the many things we talked about with the very bright and intelligent women who had gathered, was the importance of building one’s reputation within and outside the company.
During one of the sessions, I asked one of the participants the following question: “Would you ever ask a colleague to endorse, or recommend your work, or to nominate you for a specific company award – as a way to build your reputation within and outside the organization?”
Here was the candid response I received: “No, I would be too shy or I would feel awkward asking this of a colleague”.
Something tells me that this would likely have been the response of many of the participants had they been asked the same question.
From personal experience over the years, I am quite sure that if they had actually asked, their colleague would very likely have been more than happy to help with their request.
I have to admit that early in my career, I remember thinking along the same self-defeating lines. Over the years, however, with the encouragement of my colleagues, friends and family, my response and attitude has significantly changed.
So what stops us from asking?
Is it that we don’t want to inconvenience the other person or put them in an uncomfortable position?
Is it that we’re not confident or secure enough to see ourselves as deserving of praise, recognition or endorsement?
Are we afraid to be perceived as too aggressive, selfish or self-promoting?
Are there cultural barriers that make us uncomfortable to ask this of our colleagues?
What are your own personal barriers?
OK. But what if there was a way to approach our colleague(s) with this request but at the same time provide them a “way out”, so to speak – to present our request in a way that puts no pressure on them to act on our behalf? Would it be easier to ask then?
The old adage: “ask and you shall receive” – comes to mind. This is something I have definitely grown better at doing over time, but it still takes that little extra push inside of me to reach out and ask. Deep down, I know that in the end it will be well worth it!
So here is my reminder: keep asking for what you would like in your career and life in general. Whether it’s a recommendation, a nomination for an award, or just simply some help. And if you haven’t done this in the past, now is the time to start. This could be the real key to your professional and personal growth!
And what’s the worst that could happen? The answer could be, “no”, but then you are no worse off than if you had never asked at all. And who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised by the responses you receive!
How often do you “promote” or “endorse” yourself within your organization?
How often do you approach a colleague to help with building your personal reputation within or outside of your organization?
What do you think are some ways in which you could go about in building your reputation or “brand”?