Impacting the critical career discussion you’re NOT in

Yup. It’s true. You are not in one of the most important conversations of your career. It’s the kind of conversation that gets you promoted, earns raises, or keeps you around when layoffs are in the air.

The one that might even be happening right now, as you read this. I’m talking about the chat happening between your boss and your client’s boss about you, you, you. Or maybe’s it’s your boss’s boss. Or boss’s boss’s boss… It’s between two people that may or may not really know you and what you do on a day-to-day basis.

Story time!

Before yours truly got into new business… And before I started helping agencies find senior-level leaders, yours truly was an account guy. I’d worked at big agencies on big, household name brands for many years. And for the most part, really enjoyed it! It was fun. But that ended when the CMO at my client told the senior-most account guy (my boss’s boss at the time) said, “I like Steve, but he sells too much.”

Uh-oh. This, my friends, is a body blow. Not fatal, mind you. But not good. Basically, I was told that while I wasn’t being asked OFF the business, I was not going to get promoted ON it.

The point to this tale is that you aren’t in that room when that quiet conversation is being held. But you CAN do things to help make sure the conversation is a positive one versus a negative one. Two quick thoughts:

Do good work

So much easier said than done, right? But pretty damn important. And it really doesn’t matter what discipline you’re in: account management, account planning, creative, media, digital… Heck, even client side.

Of course, quality in our business can be a very subjective thing. But generally speaking, it’s going to be something you’re proud of and excited about. And there’s always the non-subjective side: results. I’m NOT talking just about revenue growth. There are PLENTY of other ways to identify success. Think about your target here. What does your target consider success? A blog post for later, perhaps.

Don’t be a jerk

Man, does it make a difference. The reason I was moved into new business at that agency was because those around me perceived me as a good guy and I kept my nose clean. I wasn’t a jerk. People who charge more for their time might call this “reputation management.” Whatever you call it, it’s a crucial part of your career if you want to earn the big bucks. Particularly in the world of professional services.

I did a little bit of research on The Google, and was surprised by two things: #1: being a jerk seems to be male gender-specific. And #2: there’s no writing on how to not be one at work. Just lots of advice on how to deal with them when you run into them. Both topics are blog-worthy. But again, I digress.

So, is it really that simple? Well, no. But if you can do the two things listed above fairly consistently, the conversation you’re not in about your career prospects could go pretty well.