How do you raise your visibility and become more valued at work in times like these – when things seem dark with the potential to get worse?

I’ve been through my share of recessions and seen people’s careers rise and fall based on how they responded to the challenging situations.

The biggest mistake people make is to fear the worst, hunker down and play small. But when you focus on avoiding the negative, it doesn’t bring the energy needed to be visible in a career-enhancing way.

The key to raising your profile is to be intentional in your approach.

How you respond in a downturn determines your future

In times like these, the best thing to do is focus on creating value. When everyone is fearful, pulling back and waiting for things to change, creating value allows you to raise your visibility with your stakeholders. And that can open the door to opportunities.

Here are three steps you can take to create value and be more visible in a downturn:

  1. Tap into your curiosity
  2. Learn new things
  3. Communicate what you’ve discovered

Tap into your curiosity

When the environment feels challenging and even negative, it’s easy to discount new ideas or opportunities. The temptation is to stick to what you know, turn inward and avoid taking risk.

But while it’s a natural instinct to hunker down or run and hide when things get challenging, it’s a mistake to give in to fear.

Instead, the best thing you can do is to tap into your curiosity, be courageous and try something new. Whether it’s experimenting with a new way of doing what you already do or starting a whole new line of exploration, you create positive momentum when you take action.

Like the time I said yes to being on a panel that led to meeting someone who offered me an exciting new role. And the time I joined a non-profit board and discovered I didn’t like being an advisor and still wanted to be in the trenches doing things.

You don’t have to make sweeping changes. Just take a small step to check out a new possibility and see where it takes you. Even if you try out 20 new things and end up pursuing just a couple of them, you win because you’ve opened yourself to new experiences and learned.

And you might just uncover an opportunity you’re really excited about.

Which brings us to the second step.

Learn new things

Downturns and challenging times are the perfect moment to invest in yourself. If there’s a skill you’ve been wanting to develop, this is a great time to take a step toward learning it.

If there are people you’d like to get to know, it’s an ideal time to reach out and learn about them while most people are distracted by their own issues.

What you choose to learn depends on what’s of greatest interest and value to you. What would you find joyful and motivating to learn about? What skills will set you and your organization up for future success?

It could be learning to be a great public speaker so you can raise your profile and be seen as a confident executive. Or developing your leadership skills so you’re seen as ready for that next promotion opportunity.

Maybe you’re in an industry that’s based on old technologies or methods that are at risk of becoming obsolete. In which case it’s a good time to learn about the newer ways of doing business to see what the implications are for your company.

For example, understanding how blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could affect your clients and therefore your organization.

The new skills and markets you learn about could open up a whole new set of opportunities for your organization and for your career. And by choosing your topics wisely, you’ll also have fun while you’re learning new things.

This brings us to the third step.

Communicate what you’ve discovered

As the saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound?

Similarly, once you’ve tried and learned new things, don’t keep it to yourself. It’s important to let others know, especially senior stakeholders.

If you’ve discovered a new process that’s more efficient than the old way, share it and advocate for making a change. If you’ve learned about a new technology that could transform your department’s offerings, let management know and create a new opportunity for yourself and your team.

Your managers aren’t mind readers, so it’s up to you to clue them in on what you’ve tried, learned and discovered. As you communicate, do it in a strategic way that shows your leadership and initiative.

Just don’t make the mistake of sitting and waiting for direction

In my experience, the people who are frozen with fear, like a “deer in headlights”, are the ones at greatest risk of losing status – and perhaps even their jobs – in a recession.

This is the time to raise your visibility and become seen as a leader and not someone who’s passive, afraid or hunkered down in their comfort zone. 

When you take action and stay in motion, you show people you’re actively learning and growing. That you’re creating value and deserve a seat at the next table regardless of the environment.

And when you invest in yourself, your managers will be more likely to invest in you too. Like my client whose senior management finally took him more seriously when he shared that he had joined a coaching program because he aspired to keep advancing.

How will you raise your visibility?

This is the time to create value and communicate it to the people that matter for your work and career. When others around you are worried, fearful and pulling back, it’s time to press your advantage and demonstrate your leadership.

So, as you take action to create value and raise your visibility, remember to:

  1. Tap into your curiosity – when you’re open to new ideas and take action, you create positive momentum for your career.
  2. Learn new things – open up a new set of opportunities by investing in your future.
  3. Communicate what you’ve discovered – share your discoveries with your stakeholders in a strategic way to show your leadership and be more visible.

What steps will you take to create value and raise your visibility, especially in a downturn?

Leave a comment and let me know.