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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Why They’re Not Promoting You

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You're at the top of your game. You have a great degree from a respected institution. Maybe you were even at the top of your class. You have all the certificates and you knock every project they give you out of the park. But they're not promoting you.

I've met with many clients in this position, and I know how frustrating it can be. It happened to me in my career, too. I saw people who didn't work nearly as hard get tapped for projects that I felt strongly I was a better candidate for.

My clients get so frustrated and discouraged seeing others advance while they stay still that they considered leaving the position, the team, or even the entire company.

But there's a secret sauce that these folks are missing: social capital.

Social capital is the grease that makes the wheels of promotion turn, and before you get too worried, I'm not talking about cheesy schmoozing and office shark politics here. I mean mutually beneficial relationships that keep your name top-of-mind for the movers and shakers at your job.

Here's how you cultivate it.

Connect with others as individuals

When I was young in my career, I was an extremely "heads down" worker. I kept my eyes on my work and tried to do the absolute best job that I could, assuming that the best output meant the fastest growth.Not the case.

I had no network, no advocates, no friends in the office, and that held me back because nobody had me in mind or threw my name in the ring for promotions when I wasn't in the room to do it myself. People liked my work, but they didn't know me. Make a point to express yourself and connect to others on an individual level at the office.

Be collaborative

Making friends is one thing, but you also need to be a great team member. I know it can be tempting to go rogue on a project to remove the team coordination element, but if you're stuck in a rut, try reaching out. Collaborate. Facilitate a workshop. Host a joint working session. Grab a coworker and put your minds together.

Showing your skills as a collaborative team member makes people feel like they can trust you to lead. Fundamentally, leadership is all about leveraging peoples' skills to get more done together. Live that principle by being a collaborative partner.

Get a mentor

Are you sensing a theme? Getting unblocked in your climb requires help, but it can't all come from your peers. Find a person who you respect to advise you. You want someone outside of your team who's a straight shooter.

Mentors coach you, but they also encourage you. If you face a difficult problem, they can give you an impartial outside opinion that can help you get unstuck.

Don't be afraid to reach out here; even if it's someone you've only met once or twice, there's no harm in asking them for a coffee to talk about career development. Ask for 15 minutes on their calendar to talk, and once you've had that first meeting ask to set up another one.

If you want further guidance, you may benefit from speaking to a career coach. I'm available for consultations if that's an avenue you're curious about, so click here to get a one-on-one with me on your calendar.

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