Why You Need to Fill Your "Visibility Bank" and Why It'll Make Your Job More Creative
Remember that 60’s song?
Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’...That won’t get you into his arms...
Now, I’m not saying that you’re sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring… But it’s possible you’re channeling that 60’s chick energy in you career or business. that you’re waiting to be picked.
Show him that you care just for him….
As much as I’m belting that out for myself right now, it’s not the answer.
If you feel like you’re waiting to be chosen at work, like you’re seeing other people get the opportunities you want, other people get promoted while you’re just, like, there. Or, if you see other business owners landing the platforms and projects that you want.
It’s possible you haven’t filled your visibility bank.
What is a Visibility Bank?
In 2011, a Catalyst study investigated the common career tactics suggested to women for how effective they were. The one tactic they found that really has an impact on women’s growth is the communication of their achievements.
But here’s the thing, communicating your achievements is not something you do once and then check it off your list.
Excuse me everyone, but I want to announce that 95% of my projects last year were under budget. Can I get a raise, please?
The perception of you and your “brand” get’s built over time.
It’s a slow burn.
Each time you communicate an achievement, it’s like making a small contribution to your visibility bank.
But then, like a bank, that reputation starts to pay interest.
Because when that “brand” builds up, and people know about you and the value you bring, all kinds of things start to happen.
Your firm lands a career-making project and your name comes up as the woman to lead it.
Someone looking for a tiny house designer hears your name from someone else.
You get a raise and get the invite to the steering committee. This happens because you’re so great at managing projects that they’re afraid to lose you.
Why We Hold off on Getting Visible
So having a “visibility bank” is an incredible career and business asset for women, but there’s reasons why women — especially creative women — don’t get started on building one.
It feels skeezy and awkward to be too self-promotional.
And if you feel that way, you have reason to. As Sheryl Sandberg writes about in Lean In we are more comfortable with men who talk about their accomplishments than women who do.
We’re not sure what we want to get known for.
When you ask a creative woman what her five year plan is, what she hears is:
“What one thing do you want to do over and over for the rest of your life?”
AKA, what will you choose to be bored by forever? We hear the words “specialize” or “get known for,” and we think, “trapped forever!” So we often avoid choosing or can even say we want a plan or direction, and then self-sabotage our efforts to choose.
We’re too wrapped up in the work that’s right in front of us.
The women I work with are often working 50–60 hour weeks. Then, they pull “the second shift” in the family or social lives they have outside the office. They’re sometimes expected to be 90% billable while making all the lunches and doing 40 sit ups a day.
They just feel like they don’t have the time.
And it’s not really about the time, it’s about the mental space. It’s about being able to get out of the story you’re living so you can tell the story on occasion.
It can feel overwhelming or like something we’ll get to someday.
Every day that goes by, we put off filling our visibility bank, and building that “interest” over time.
Because there are ways to communicate your accomplishments that don’t come off as self-promotional (and don’t feel that way either.) There are ways to choose an expertise and to think of it not as “your story forever” but instead as the next chapter in your book. There are ways to take a little time now to plan out your visibility strategy and set yourself up to take action on it when you don’t have the mental space.
And there are incredible benefits to doing this, because not only can it fast forward our careers and businesses, it can make us more creative and satisfied by our jobs.
But here's why building your visibility bank is worth it.
Carrie Niemy, one of my coaching students, did this when she identified her interest in bringing a human-centered approach to the program she runs at a national affordable housing nonprofit. Within a few months she got her first acknowledgement of a job well-done from senior leadership. When she got the promotion into director of her program, she felt confident going into her performance review, and like she “earned it.”
“I changed the way I talk about myself to colleagues here and colleagues outside, having a clear vision about how I want to contribute,” she says.
But she’s also happier at work. ”I’m creating the job I love inside my job and making sure that I’m doing things that I really value at work,” she says.
Nina Chase, a former student of mine’s visibility strategy was social media, which she posted on consistently in the years before founding her business, and after opening the firm she co-founded, Merritt Chase. Nina and her cofounder secured press in a national magazine directly because of an Instagram post, and they have been able to recruit nationally competitive interns and staff because they have seen the firm’s work. Today her social media strategy helps her stay top-of-mind with architects who they are currently working with or would like to work with.
It recently happened to me.
I recently got this email from someone who heard about me in one of the communities I’m in.
There are so many amazing women out there who I don’t know personally who could use the help I give — and who I would adore working with. This is exactly the kind of situation I love to work on. And it came to me.
Because one of the other benefits of filling your visibility bank is that it not only helps you find what you’re interested in, but it’s a way to stay creative in your job.
So start building your visibility bank.
Really, all you’ve gotta do is…
Wear your hair just for him, do the things he likes to do.
No, Dusty Springfield, your 60’s vixen tricks are of no help here.
What you’ve got to do is stop waiting to find the perfect thing you want to be known for, and get started telling the story of what you at least you know you like today on a more consistent basis, and to make sure that others know about the great things you’re accomplishing.
Make that little investment in that visibility bank…. And keep on investing.
Want to stop overthinking and start building your visibility? Want it to feel creative rather than self-promotional?