How Visible Are You in the Workplace?

I attended an NAAAP (National Association of Asian American Professionals) ‘webinar’ entitled: “Idea Storytelling: #1 Most Powerful Way to Get Promoted”, and it brought up a lot of topics that, I think, are very relevant for young Asian professionals. I’ll do my best to recap the most pertinent points in this post.

As we all know, the perceived notion is that young Asian professionals may suppress leadership qualities due to their cultural upbringing. Asian traditional values and cultural expectations include traits such as humility, deference to authority, diligence, and sacrifice. And while these characteristics help to build success, they run counter to the demands and expectations of leadership. Leaders, in the United States typically, possess motivation, drive, and a strong sense of self-worth. They achieve leadership positions through self-promotion, networking, and risk-taking—actions that go against the grain of traditional Asian values.

Another way of thinking about this: is that you shouldn’t ask for a promotion or raise because your excellent work should speak for itself. This is a view held by many in the workplace. But it may actually be costing you and others. The question you should ask yourself is:

How Visible Are You in Your Job?

You may be your own best kept secret. In the modern workplace you must be seen and heard. And storytelling is an authentic way to do it. We’re talking here about Courageous Conversation. Find ways to ‘show and tell’ your accomplishments. For example, your year-end review is a perfect time to prepare your achievements over the year into a compelling narrative to sell to your boss.

There are three pillars for idea storytelling used in this webinar. Think, Triple S:

A) Study your stakeholders
B) Envision success
C) Build your story

Study Your Stakeholders

Knowing your audience is vital in all aspects of life; but never more so than in business. Here are the key questions you need to ask:

—Who are they?
—Why do they care?
—What worries them?
—How can I help?
—Where could they resist?

Envision Your Success

Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to come away with?

Get vivid: What does success look, sound, and feel like? Explain this to yourself and then use it promote yourself. Steve Jobs—an expert at using great idea storytelling promote himself and his vision—when introducing the Macbook Air used classic storytelling devices in his presentation; to the pinnacle of which, was when he pulled a Macbook Air from a boring, usual, everyday manilla envelope! It was the perfect visual for the occasion. It was vivid and got the point of his story across.

Build Your Story

Present what you are selling (in this case: yourself and your achievements) in a structured way:

1) What?
The answer to this should contain your core message – remember: simplicity rules here!

2) So What?
Here is where you put yourself in your stakeholders’ shoes

3) Now What?
Here is where your call to action comes in. This is where you turn your ideas into action. Don’t be afraid to make it clear to your stakeholder what they need to do next. Always have a clear call to action. If you are in your end-of-year review, don’t be afraid to ask for a promotion or to lead a team in a project you are excited by. This is what we mean when we talk about Courageous Conversation.

Using these tips and advice you can build a plan to show your good work to the right people and in the most compelling way, and perhaps get that boost you need.

For more advice and tips about getting ahead in the workplace explore our website and membership programs.

naisA Global is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping talented young Asian professionals unlock their potential and become great leaders.