You may be the smartest person in the world but if no one knows about it, it doesn’t mean a thing.

Think about it. That’s extremely powerful. That’s the situation that sysadmins, software developers, and geeks of all kinds get into all the time.

We all have that engineering mindset. We’re independent and we tend to enjoy working on our own. We are terrible communicators. We’re generally terrible marketers of ourselves!

Make your Work Known

You’re working on an important internal project. Not many people know about yet but when you complete it, you save the company millions of dollars.

You treat the project just like another day; finish it and move on. When asked about your achievement, you reply, “I probably saved the company millions of dollars but who's counting anyway? I was just doing my job”.

It’s important to not brag and gloat about your awesomeness. You’ll end up coming across as conceited and arrogant. There’s a fine line. But, I know a lot of people in IT. Geeks say nothing. Ever.

A manager comes up with a directive, so the team comes up with a project that has to be done. We do it, hand it to them, and move on. Nothing is ever talked about. Nothing is celebrated. This is wrong. We should celebrate wins!

Marketing as a Four-Letter Word

Marketing is a bad word in the minds of engineers. Why? Marketing and engineering are completely different worlds. One builds the product or supports it and the other swoons about it to potential customers. The roles couldn't be more different.

But as an engineer, as you become more experienced, you need those marketing skills! You need to be able to communicate well but the importance becomes greater as you get more at a senior level.

The Higher you Go the More Abstract Work Gets

Consider you’re a help desk tech and you’re closing tickets every day. It’s obvious that when you fix the problem you close the ticket. Mission accomplished. That’s a metric that can be tracked. Your manager can run reports to see how many tickets you closed this month or year. Your work is more notable or visible to management and to your team.

But once you begin climbing the ladder, the work becomes more abstract. Your work becomes gray, less visible. It’s harder for management to see what your accomplishments are. A simple black and white report just won't cut it.

Now you’re working on bigger, more long-term projects that may take weeks, months, or years to complete. All of those past little wins are pushed aside and forgotten about in the grand scheme of completing the project. Don't let them.

Document the Small Wins

Tickets are recorded metrics, but projects, on the other hand, are different. There are some milestone metrics that are captured for various companies, but in my experience, the project end is the big one.

It’s just like credits in a movie. It’s sprayed out at the end and everyone is not given the appropriate credit. You have no idea what each person went through. They may have been the hardest working people in the world and contributed a ton. But you can’t gauge how much better of a worker they are. No one is going to celebrate those small wins if you let them go by.

You need to market yourself religiously and record all those wins.

At the end of the every year, do you have to perform a self-review? Do you always forget what you accomplished? When you have your wins documented, it's easy to pat yourself on the back. That not only gives you more confidence in your abilities and what you did, it also makes you happy.

You feel a sense of fulfillment because you know all your successes, plus you’re able to market those successes to your manager.

The Tech Stuff is the Easy Part

Engineers have the technical skills. If you're a senior IT admin, chances are if you don't know something, you can just Google it. You can figure out just about anything. That's the easy stuff.

The hard task is marketing and selling yourself. It's hard to put tangible communication on the kind of results that your delivering.

If you're at a senior level in your career and feel like you can easily figure out technical skills, focus a lot more on marketing.

  • Market yourself
  • Market your skills
  • Make your wins knon