Playing the Game


How many times have you said or heard, 'Oh no, I won't suck up to people, it's just not me. I won't do it." It's almost like a badge of honour. I did, say that I mean. But do you know what? This is just biting off your nose to spite your face. The title 'sucking up' doesn't help, and immediately brings to mind connotations of the guy in the office who laughs too loudly at the jokes, nudges into the drinking circle next to the boss at the pub, cuts his team out of discussions and takes the credit...He got away with murder (oh, sorry, i was pretending this was theoretical wasn't i?), got promoted, got all the free tickets. Infuriating!

But then there was another colleague who was brilliant at it, and no-one knew they were doing it. They actually didn’t like to go to the socialising events (I know! What?!), but they could (and would) talk to anyone. They knew everyone’s name. They did a fantastic job and made sure people knew about it – not in an arrogant way, just a bit of personal branding. They were themselves and authentic, but still had to step outside the comfort zone and think about how and when and what to say to the right people at the right time.

It all comes back to your goal, your plan and your (buzz word alert) personal branding. Or more specifically, what you're doing about achieving your goal.

Who cares how anyone else is raising their profile at work. What's it got to do with you? Don't worry about what anyone else's methods are, or what they're getting out of it. Don't compare yourself to others, and stop thinking of it as 'sucking up'. And for goodness sake, don't let your frustration at their methods make you take another step further away from the internal networking.

You need to find a way to be your own cheerleader at work.  If you're not part of the boys club, or you're not comfortable in group situations, or you never get to speak to the MD - find another way.

Who makes the final decision in your career? Not your line manager. Who says yes or no to any proposal your line manager makes?

The Big boss needs to know who you are.

If they send an 'all staff' email, send a reply.

Talk to them in the kitchen.

Be confident, but not cocky. And if you can't be confident on-the-spot, plan in advance what you're going to say next time you see them in the kitchen.

If someone knows who you are, likes you, and you’re doing a good job – it makes those 'raise' conversations much easier.

People want to work with people they like. But more than that, at the end of the day, they also find it bloody hard to promote people they've never heard of.

What's your personality style? What's theirs? Use it to your advantage. Play to your strengths. A tactical email to the MD can do just as much good as a whole night at the pub laughing at their jokes. 

Sometimes that does mean drinking XXXXGold instead of Carlton Draught (real story: my first day, first lunch with MD, public shaming). Sometimes it can mean staying an extra 10 minutes at an event. It doesn't mean ignoring your values, or letting go of any leadership traits or forgetting the people around you.

But 20% of the people make 80% of the decisions* – you need to know who’s who, and not be afraid to let that 20% know what a great job your doing.

Find your direction. Increase your confidence. Achieve your personal branding goals.


*i made that up, but you know what i mean!

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