If you’re anything like me, you probably find yourself looking ahead at what’s next with your career path. That’s not to say you aren’t content in the role you currently fill at work, but ambition is a great quality and often results in much more productive employees. If you have that ambition, but haven’t seen the opportunity yet for advancement, maybe it’s time to promote yourself! Obviously, this is not a literal promotion that goes through the proper chain of command, but rather a proactive approach to add value to your current position and prove yourself worthy of taking that next step.
If you don’t quite know what I’m talking about, read this entertaining story by Dave Kerpen, a NY Times Best-Selling Author and Keynote Speaker as well as the CEO of Likeable Local, a social media and marketing company. See how he promoted himself in his first job as a college student, and think of how you can do the same:
“Fifteen lousy bucks.
That's how much I earned my first night on the job selling Crunch ’n Munch in the fall of 1996. While in college at Boston University, I had taken a job as a vendor at Fenway Park and the Boston Garden (then called the Fleet Center). I was a snack hawker who walked up and down the aisles selling product. What most people don't know is that vendors are paid only in commission and tips—the more they sell, the more they make. And it's a seniority-based system- you have to work for years to get to sell the good stuff, like beer and hot dogs. My first day, as the low man on the totem pole, seniority-wise, I had been assigned a product called Crunch ’n Munch. I sold a grand total of 12 boxes and made the legal minimum, $15.
I decided later that night that while it was fun being at games, I wanted to at least make a decent living hawking Crunch ’n Munch. So my second day, (here's secret #1), I gave myself a promotion, and I decided to become not only a ballpark vendor, but an entertainer at work—a little singing, a little dancing, a little screaming, and a lot of goofy Dave. I sold 36 boxes, three times as many as the first night. I stepped up my efforts for the rest of the week. I'd be the first person to admit that I had no real talent as an entertainer. My only assets were passion, fearlessness, and the attitude to think of myself as an entertainer, not just another hawker. I began to scream at the top of my lungs each night, in an effort to pull attention away from the games and toward the buttery toffee popcorn with peanuts I was selling.
The attitude change paid off. Within weeks I had developed a persona as the “Crunch ’n Munch Guy," and regulars began to take notice. The in-stadium cameramen liked my shtick and began to feature my goofy dancing on the large-screen Jumbotron during timeouts. When The Boston Herald published an article about me, a fan actually asked me to autograph her box of Crunch ’n Munch.
Secret #2: I decided at that moment to promote myself from ballpark vendor / entertainer to local celebrity. I asked the woman to borrow her Sharpie, and proceeded to sign unsolicited every box of Crunch 'n Munch I sold that night. Somehow, I helped change perception in the building by the end of that night - not only did you have to buy a box of Crunch 'n Munch, but you had to get it autographed by the Crunch 'n Munch guy.
Over the next three years, I was featured in The Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Fox Sports New England, and ESPN Sportscenter. I also sold a lot of Crunch ’n Munch. At my peak, I was selling - and signing - between 250 and 300 boxes per game and making, with commission and tips, between $400 and $500 a night—an excellent living for a college kid. There I was, utterly talentless, but using my attitude and others' perception to generate a nice income.
Eventually, of course, three years later with a college degree in hand, I decided to retire as the Crunch 'n Munch guy. But the lesson remained:
Redefine your job at work, change the way people perceive you - and you can become limitless.
There are many examples of people "giving themselves a promotion" at work:
There's the salesperson who becomes an expert consultant and whose customers come to him for help - driving sales through the roof.
There's the marketing assistant who becomes a thought leader by reading countless books and industry articles and then writing for the company blog.
There's the intern who works tirelessly to solve company problems and quickly not only gets noticed, but becomes indispensable.
There's the small business owner who becomes a spokesperson for her industry by doing media appearances and writing - creating the impression of a bigger business - and soon, actually growing a bigger business.
No matter what your job title is, you can get creative, choose to see your role differently, take on new tasks, and make a huge positive impression on customers, prospects, colleagues, and bosses.
What are you waiting for? Give yourself a promotion at work today.”