With potentially dozens of people in the office and thousands looking for work, it's easy to become just one more needle in the haystack nobody really sees. There are ways to get noticed and get others singing your praises, however.
1. Give basic updates.
You don't need to ping your coworkers or boss every three minutes to tell them you sent an email. (For real, OK?) Still, others on your team will appreciate unsolicited, brief updates on more critical issues if those updates allow them to do further planning or can relieve stress. Volunteer where you're at instead of forcing others to interrogate you when they're pressed for time. Others knowing that you're making progress also can build trust and deter them from feeling the need to micromanage you.
2. Stay neutral.
Office politics can get pretty heated. Keeping your cool and not taking sides provides a stabilizing foundation for others that real leaders will understand matters to the bottom line. When others pick at each other, acknowledge how they're feeling in empathy but try to draw their attention back to the task immediately at hand. Ask what others need to progress with that task and do your best to provide it.
3. Make small gestures.
Probably more than anything else, contemporary workers just want to be seen and acknowledged. It doesn't take much to fulfill this need! Water their parched desk plant or grab them a cup of coffee while you get one for yourself, for example. Compliment them casually in front of the boss. The more you show care and attention, the more attractive and magnetic you'll seem.
4. Become an expert.
Now more than ever considering the gig economy, leaders go to people who can provide specific knowledge or skills. Even if you're just known as the person who's really, really good at smashing the call queue, find a passion you can use to become more in demand and less dispensable. While side projects shouldn't dominate your conversations and social media feeds, it should be easy for others to learn about them.
5. Stick your neck out.
This doesn't mean you go out of your way at every left turn. It just means you're willing to take chances. Ask the necessary question you can feel that everyone else is too afraid or embarrassed to ask, for example.
6. Note discrepancy.
Not all policies are going to stand the test of time. That's OK. But politely asking for clarification when you see different standards floating around can help others feel like they have an advocate and force management toward greater integrity, fairer practices or new standards. Discrete attention to discrepancies also may alert management to issues like the need for training or even instances of fraud. Be sure to offer documentation or third-party verification whenever possible to support your case, rather than making plain assertions.
7. Follow through.
Your word means something. So don't mouth off and make promises you can't keep. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you absolutely have to quit something, provide a clear cost-value case for why you took another direction so others know the decision wasn't based on emotion or, worse, incompetence.
8. Take initiative.
Yes, supervisors want people who can follow directions well. Success on the battlefield requires that soldiers don't go rogue, after all. But supervisors also want people who can make their own opportunities, who can point out options and bring new facts into the limelight. They want to see a hunger for growth and to have employees who can watch the company's back. Ask for the kinds of projects that you can learn from and that interest you, and show that you anticipate what might help the business. Jump in wherever you are authorized and capable of providing a fix.
9. Take criticism and responsibility.
Anybody can hear their faults and get huffy about it. You'll draw far more positive attention if you take criticisms more objectively and actively take specific steps to improve yourself based on the feedback you get. In the same way, stepping up for both the good and bad you do demonstrates maturity and integrity, as well as an understanding of your influence, strengths and weaknesses.
10. Draw the line.
We all know that famous little clause that reads "and other duties as assigned". But you still can show you know your worth! Use everyday interactions or performance reviews to point out, in a humble and non-bragging way, the extra contributions you provide above and beyond your standard job description. Clarify expectations and separation of responsibilities/roles. If it's warranted, at an appropriate time, ask for the raise or promotion your extra work deserves.
11. Communicate well.
This of course means interacting with good emotional intelligence--be an active listener and don't be passive-aggressive. But it also means paying attention to the preferences of others and what ultimately will be most efficient. For instance, don't send Maggie an email if she'd rather that you send her a text.
These strategies work don't require you to be aggressive. But they do require you to be assertive, compassionate, observant and convicted in your ideals/vision. Connect to who you are and what you want. Then reach down and find the courage to insert yourself for personal and greater good, always looking for what could be better. Do that, and pretty soon, your status as "somebody" becomes both well-deserved and truly irrefutable.