Without proper advertising, suggests one advertising agency, a new product or service is like a "wink in the dark."

Why? Because you know you did it, but nobody else does.

But unless you're in the advertising business, what do unseen facial gestures have to do with your career?

I'm sure you've been there: Great ideas, better ways to do business, new customers, cost savings -- you did it all -- but it wasn't noticed.

Major accomplishments and contributions go by the boards, with not even a mention in the next staff meeting, department presentation or performance review.

Face it: Our peers -- and our superiors -- are too busy with what they do to recognize and reward everything we do. Or they just don't get how it helps the business.

Doing your job and doing it well is job No. 1. But job No. 1 doesn't do much for your career if nobody notices.

So here's job No. 2: Effectively market what you do in job No. 1 to your colleagues and peers. Unless you're a salesperson on commission, you're unlikely to get proper credit for job No. 1 otherwise.

I'm not talking about bragging or tooting your own horn.

Just as effective marketing delivers the right message to a potential buyer at the right time, marketing your work means delivering the right message to your co-workers.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

Here are some ways to do it:
  • Give regular updates.

    Every two weeks or so, summarize your activities and accomplishments in writing. Really, it's like your own newsletter. This newsletter helps your boss at review time, as it provides a written record and material that can be sent to others. It even works well when your boss is remote.

    And summaries keep you focused, too, because you need something worthwhile to write every two weeks, right? In some workplaces, a personal blog or Web page could also work.
  • Make distinctive presentations.

    Most professionals get opportunities to present, and you should play these for all they're worth. Make them memorable (without going over the top, of course). Try creative tactics; presentation time is not time to blend in.
  • Take your pitch outside.

    Pitching a project or accomplishment in an industry trade forum gives instant visibility and respect within your own group, not to mention from prospective outside employers. Of course, be careful to get organizational buy-in, and don't roll out your company's secrets into the marketplace just to get visibility.
  • Get published.

    A step beyond external presentations, getting published in your field -- an article, a paper, even a book -- is a huge way to legitimize your expertise and accomplishments.
  • Become an industry leader.

    Beyond presenting or publishing in your industry, why not volunteer for a leadership role in your trade group? Being a respected leader in the industry brings lots of credibility, and you may get good material to bring back to your job. Just don't forget to get your work done, too.

You may have guessed that marketing yourself internally is not just about your accomplishments -- it's about building your professional brand.

This brand signals your value to the organization, what others think of you, and what others can expect from your work on a day-to-day basis.

I'd suggest spending at least 10% of your time on self-marketing and branding.

This may not be consistent -- you may be too slammed by work at times. So save it for slower moments. I found that business travel is good offline time to think about marketing my work. Before the day's workload begins and as the coffee takes effect, early mornings are another ideal moment for this. Along with the caffeine, working your pitch will energize your day.

You'll have to learn what messages work best in your organization and how to deliver them. And what works best will become habit.

As an important caution, though, make sure your marketing campaign fits within what your boss and colleagues find acceptable. Nobody likes to be overwhelmed with excessive marketing messages.

Finally, keep in mind that if these "winks" don't work internally, all is not lost, for most are visible outside -- or can be easily made so. By working on marketing yourself, you'll position yourself well for the next job, if not this one.

Jennifer Openshaw, a passionate advocate for helping Americans improve their finances and build their personal fortunes, is CEO of The Millionaire Zone and America Online's personal finance editor. In addition to appearing regularly on TV shows such as "Oprah" and "Good Morning America" and on CNN, Openshaw is host of ABC Radio's "Winning Advice" and serves as an adviser to some of America's top corporations. Her new book, "The Millionaire Zone," will hit bookstores in April 2007.

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