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Building your profile without burning any bridges

Last month I worked with a group of leaders who were keen to be more influential within their business. Not that there was a noticeable business problem…these guys were all good performers, often picked to work on strategic projects within their area and liked and respected by their teams. So where was the need?

In their Words:

“I know I’m valued within my area, but I’m not good at getting my name and face out there which means others are bring promoted above me.”

“My team and my boss rate me, but I’m struggling to make in-roads with other areas of the business who have different priorities and a different boss.”

“I know I need to network more, as ‘it’s who you know not what you know’ but I hate doing it as I feel like I’m sucking up to others and that’s not who I am.”

“I rely on my results to do the talking for me, but it always amazes me how little people know about what I’ve done or what I’m working on.”

It’s a familiar theme: How to balance being known with delivering results; how to build a bigger profile particularly if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to shout about their achievements; how to network without being seen as a “brown noser”.

There’s a simple and powerful tool that will help. It’s called: ‘PIE’

Here’s how it works.

PIE is an acronym that in my world of influence and impact stands for Performance, Image and Exposure. Put simply: Performance relates to what you deliver, Image describes how others see, think and feel about you, and Exposure refers to who knows you outside of your area/function/team.

All 3 matter in leadership and when aspiring to be promoted, and/or when others have strong Performance, it’s the I and the E that take offer the degree of differentiation that makes the difference between who gets the promotion and who stands out as influential.

Know and protect your image

So if you want to notch up your Exposure, start by thinking about your image and the impact you want to have. If I was to meet those you were introducing yourself to soon after you had met them, what would you want them to be saying about you?

Make growing your network part of your day to day work

Not every networking opportunity needs to be scheduled or scripted. There are lots of opportunities to network every day. When you walk from the car or tube to the office, wait by the lift, stand in the coffee queue, minutes before a meeting starts, having coffee prior to a conference starting, walking between departments. Networking is about making a connection. Opening up a conversation. It may last for seconds, it may last for minutes or indeed hours. Every connection you have started with an initial contact. Don’t waste the opportunity to spontaneously connect on a daily basis. And try not to overthink it … “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met” might suffice prior to going into a meeting, “Which floor do you work on?” for a conversation by the lift.


Sometimes we want to select certain people to network with rather than leaving it to chance. Thinking about the who you want to meet and the mutual value for you and to them is key to making a connection rather than just having contact. One of the quickest ways to make a quality connection is to find someone (this could be your boss or a peer or a sponsor) who you trust and who rates you, who also has a good relationship with the person you wish to network with – and get them to introduce you. We tend to receive people with the same level of rapport that was used to introduce us. So get your allies to introduce you.

Scale things up

Exposure can be built very quickly. Speaking at a conference, being interviewed for an industry magazine, featuring on the intranet/in in-house e-communication, leading a project that is a “hot potato” for the organisation, publishing lessons learnt from a recent project for other business units to benefit from, promoting a company campaign linked to a relevant cause … are ways that for a relatively small amount of time you can promote awareness of who you are. Think about your PIE. How well are you managing each of the components of Performance, Image and Exposure? Is one dominating more than another? Are any of the areas neglected? Is your network growing though both the spontaneous and scheduled route? Is your image being reinforced every day through how you show up and contribute?

Helga is our Influencing and Impact Specialist. Helga has over 20 years’ experience supporting leaders and their teams in large multinational organisations to polish their influencing and impact skills to improve overall business performance.

Further reading

Nick Craig & Scott Snook – From Purpose to Impact, Harvard Business Review

Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability – Ted Talks

Influence – Jenny Nabben

About Aziz Corporate

Aziz was founded over 40 years ago by Khalid Aziz, a media pioneer of his day who at 21 became the youngest ever appointed BBC producer.

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