VOL. 129 | NO. 169 | Friday, August 29, 2014
Standing Out in The Crowd
By Angela Copeland
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel as part of the Memphis Urban League Young Professional’s 2014 Empowerment Conference. We spoke on the topic of “Stand Out in the Crowd.”
This was my first time to attend the Empowerment Conference and I was impressed at the level of organization and detail put in by a volunteer staff. Many attendees used the hashtag #Unite2Lead when posting online, and that seemed to be just what the conference was all about. Led by MULYP President Cynthia Daniels, it brought together over 200 young professionals in the Memphis area, along with out of town guests coming as far as Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.
My panel – moderated by Austin Baker and also featuring Cedric Brooks, Latosha Dexter, and Adrian Davis – touched on everything from how to dress for an interview to how to deal with office politics to knowing when to move on from a bad job.
One of the main themes was this: to stand out, you need look for ways to fit in. For example, when you go to a job interview, you want to dress appropriately for the workplace where you’re interviewing. Typically this means a business suit, but occasionally it means something more casual. You don’t want your clothes to distract from the professional message you’re trying to send.
There are also times when you may need to work to not overstep your manager’s boundaries. Even though you may be a go-getter, trying to one up everyone else in your office can create tension. In the book “The 48 Laws of Power,” the first rule of thumb is to never outshine your own boss. Many young professionals quickly find that they can offend and alienate their manager or coworkers when they don’t intend to. Be aware of how your actions may make those around you feel. It can directly impact your work situation.
If you are different than your coworkers in some way, look for common ground. Being perceived as completely different can cause colleagues to not take the time to get to know you. Although it may seem small at first, these differences can impact the opportunities you are presented with at work. Take the time to find out what you have in common, so you can work with them on a more personal level.
The last great suggestion given was to match the energy of those around you. If you’re in a room with high-energy people, try to bring your energy up to their level. If you’re speaking with someone who is very subdued, consider bringing your energy level down a bit. This technique can be especially helpful when interviewing. If you find that you’re too eager in job interviews, you could be scaring off potential employers.
As you can see, standing out in a crowd can often mean fitting in. Highlight your commonalities and then when the time is right, capitalize on what makes you unique.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).