There’s always been tension between visibility and credibility in both our personal careers as well as the communications profession. Visibility without credibility is “spin” and credibility without visibility is Too Quiet, Church Mouse, Who Knew? For example, when people learn that I was in the Peace Corps after college, they find that idealism adds to my credibility. Without knowing that fact, I can appear to be just another hardened industry executive claiming idealistic goals. So, how can we ensure our work is both credible and visible?
Here are three tips to balance credibility and visibility in your career:
1. Be Humble but don’t be Quiet: Done something important at work that you’re really proud of? Don’t be too humble about it – the world can’t beat a path to your door if they don’t know what you’ve done. Tell everyone at work what you did and why you’re proud of it. It’s not bragging if you position it as sharing useful information. Avoid making it all about you and focus on the work and results – people will get that it was you that did it.
2. Beware of the Lion’s Share: Been claiming overall credit for something you were only a part of making happen? Be careful – visibility without credibility is simply setting yourself up for a fall. Share the overall outcome, give credit to those involved, and note your pride in the part you played in making it happen. People will associate you with the overall outcome and reward you for sharing in the glory.
3. Clarity is Key: Someone else claiming credit for your work? Clarify the claim – if not directly with the person then with the appropriate audience. Let them know what you did without condemning the person claiming credit. There’s no advantage in attacking someone’s claim, but there is a clear advantage in asserting your role in this profession.
Make sure what we make visible is set on a foundation of credibility. We need to know about it…and we need to know about you! As Maya Angelou said, “If you have a song to sing, who are you not to open your mouth and sing to the world.”
Don’t be a mouse – don’t be a louse – sing your song.