The modern job market has led many professionals to believe that, in order to gain visibility, recognition and advancement, their efforts would be best spent transitioning from one company to the next. However, according to a recent Women of Martech survey, many female professionals do not want to depart their current companies or roles. In fact, 47% of survey respondents claimed their professional goal for 2020 is to advance their positions at their current companies or organizations. Additionally, 57% of Women of Martech members who completed the survey agreed that furthering their positions in their current organizations would provide the most positive impacts for their career goals. Just over one-third of respondents claimed that a lack of visibility, confidence issues and under-representation of women in senior leadership were hindering their career advancement.
The National Bureau of Economic Research released a report in 2018 noting that, in a professional context, women are less likely than their male colleagues and counterparts to promote their abilities. A lack of personal amplification was found especially when women were told to evaluate their own performance. According to professional career counselors, many women feel that heavy self-promoting is a “masculine” way of doing things and “good girl” conditioning has reinforced negative sentiment around the way women discuss their successes and achievements. Some of the ways the discrepancy in the behaviors of men and women can be noted is through common language or verbal communication and physical body movements. For example, men tend to be more comfortable using the pronoun “I” when discussing their contributions and accomplishments, while women are more likely to use “we.” Similarly, it is not uncommon to find that a woman’s body language presents a more subdued projection compared to her male colleagues.
As women continue to navigate the road to advancement within the marketing technology industry or any other field, it is imperative that women identify the behaviors that could be holding them back subconsciously. There is a constant need for women to take note of their behaviors, habits and professional traits to amplify those that can help them gain positive visibility and recognition. During the Women of Martech virtual membership meeting on July 16th, Steering Committee leader Lauren Curler, VP, Account Director for the global agency MRM//McCann, described a few ways female professionals at all levels can amplify their presence, in person and virtually, during interactions taking place every day as part of their current roles.
#1. Be Present & Prepared
Curler noted that internal company interactions give women more time to develop their professional brands and create positive impressions within their current roles. The time you spend interacting with your team and leaders creates an opportunity to enhance perceptions and reputations. Curler said, “The earliest impact I made in my career was becoming known for being prepared and getting to the answer quickly.” She explained that women should not feel the pressure to know everything, but they should be as prepared as possible.
Curler stressed that women should never underestimate the importance of being present and prepared. Whether they are participating in virtual discussions or in-person meetings, women should be aware that their body language is communicating active attention.
Avoid checking your phone or multi-tasking. Don’t sink into your seat or keep your head down. Make eye contact with the presenter or anyone speaking in the room. Even when attending virtual meetings, be sure to sustain eye contact with the camera. Being prepared for a meeting includes everything from being on time to knowing the topic or reason for the meeting to taking notes. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, your visual presentation and tone can help you appear present. Speak loudly and clear enough to be heard. Make sure your head and shoulders are in the frame of the video. Use a tone that commands respect, and don’t be afraid to be seen and heard.
#2. Enter The Conversation & Change Your Language
Being present, both in person and virtually, also means being ready to contribute. During the Women of Martech virtual meeting, Curler mentioned the importance of capitalizing on the moment when “opportunity meets preparation” and speaking when it is appropriate. Although you may not have a speaking role at every meeting, if a woman has the chance to join the conversation and contribute, she needs to use it. Curler noted, “When you do enter the conversation, don’t undersell yourself.” According to Curler, many women use justification phrases like “It might just be me” or “I’m sure this isn’t right but…” Be confident when offering your insights and opinions, there is no shame in being knowledgeable. Author of We Should All Be Feminists Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie famously said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.”
When entering the conversation, avoid language that could support uncertainty and doubt. Career Contessa, a career site created exclusively to offer tips to women recommends replacing the phrase "I feel like," with any of these phrases to promote expertise and assurance:
Curler mentioned the importance of shifting vernacular to use inclusive and collaborative language when navigating through conversations. However, inclusive language does not mean discounting contributions. Instead, when engaging in internal discussions, work groups or meetings, take advantage of the opportunities to support other women in the room. Use phrases like, “I love that idea, I was thinking something like this...” or “That is a really good point, Jane was mentioning this recently.” Changing the way the approach is used when offering insights can help women feel more confident while also building in acknowledgement by offering micro-compliments that encourage others. Even when you disagree with a colleague, changing your language could alter the way you present yourself, and the way your message is received.
#3. When You’re Not In The Center, Volunteer For A Role
Not every meeting requires a presentation from every attendee. But, if you find yourself without a defined role, there may still be an opportunity to present yourself. It is simple, but many women overlook the power of the “ask.” Based on the results of three separate Harvard studies, one reason women typically are offered fewer opportunities in the workplace is because they do not ask for them. Volunteering for tasks and asking to be involved can positively position women and help them promote themselves to build visibility and gain recognition. Although you might not always get what you are asking for, by putting yourself out there, you are leaving the impression that you are interested, involved and willing to do more.
When reviewing how she encourages her team to elevate themselves, Curler said, “When they are not front and center in meetings or presentations, I encourage my team to find other ways to get involved.” She recommended that mid and entry level team members specifically ask to be involved in tasks like, presenting the latest case study at the next staff meeting or requesting a lead role in organizing an upcoming meeting. Curler also mentioned the importance of volunteering for non-speaking roles and asking to be involved in projects or tasks that need writing or content support. No matter what tasks you volunteer for, asking for the chance to do more can help you get positive attention from your supervisors and gain more recognition.
Amplification within a woman’s current role can be a positive factor towards career growth and advancement. During the Women of Martech virtual membership meeting, women leaders discussed amplification strategies for both internal and external promotion. To hear more insights, click here to become a member and watch the full recording.