Workplace Doctor: Build your personal brand for the ‘right’ attention at work

If you do not want to just be remembered as the 'one in sales' and instead get noticed for your contribution, I would suggest you take a long, hard think about your 'personal brand' within the company, and then how you market yourself to others.

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My boss cannot remember my name. In fact, I think he has no idea who I am. We were in a group meeting the other day and he referred to me as "that one in sales". There are around 120 employees in the company so I appreciate it might be tricky to know everyone by first name, but what can I do to make sure I am noticed? KJ, Abu Dhabi

Most of us want to be noticed, it is part of human nature. As children we wanted praise and recognition from our teachers and family members, and as working adults we fall back into this same pattern with our bosses – although there is still a small minority that try their best to stay under the radar. If you want to make sure you are noticed at work, first of all be aware it potentially means walking into the spotlight. So be careful what you wish for.

If you do not want to just be remembered as the “one in sales” and instead get noticed for your contribution, I would suggest you take a long, hard think about your “personal brand” within the company, and then how you market yourself to others.

One thing you could do is borrow some of the techniques used in marketing and advertising to build your own personal brand. The Aida model provides a list of checkpoints that occur when the customer engages with an advertisement. In your case think about your boss and senior colleagues as your “customers” and work out how you can provide them with customer service that beats the competition. You’re like a new product brought to market in a busy store – you have lots of potential, but if you are currently hidden away on the lower shelves you’ll need to fight your way to the shop window.

The “A” in the Aida model stands for attention; and for you it means thinking about how you can grab the attention of your boss and those around him. In advertising this is done through adverts and now increasingly through social media. When someone applies for a job they can use their CV, their interview approach and personal style to achieve stand-out results. While you don’t have these more instant opportunities, there is still plenty you can do to grab people’s attention. You could take on a high-profile project, or engage in a social or community activity on behalf of the organisation. Maybe you could volunteer to be involved in a new initiative or provide some good ideas. If you have done valuable work in the past make sure it doesn’t go forgotten.

The “I” stands for interest, and once you have gained the attention of senior management, you’ll need to work to keep it. Are they clear about what you add to the organisation as well as the benefits of involving you in more activities? If you want to be noticed then you will need to be ready for the attention that goes with it, so think about how you can engage your boss enough to see your key character strengths. The way you carry yourself day to day can help or hinder you in maintaining your boss’s good opinion, so be sure you are utilising your strengths in your interactions across the organisation – making them clear to others will be beneficial in the long term.

Next we move into the desire stage, in which you can appeal to the needs of your boss and the business. You need to understand what is currently preoccupying him and how can you help him to meet these challenges. Consumers buy products because they solve problems – take the recent rise in convenience-based mobile phone apps in the UAE as your example. Uber, mobile banking and Food on Click are all designed to make our busy lives easier; you just need to find the idea that will do the same for your management team.

The last stage is about action and ultimately, inspiring your boss to “buy” your brand. Remembering your name is a good first step, but you should be aiming for him to mention you to others, and possibly even recommend you for projects or future roles. Making yourself useful will keep you top of mind for him and other senior people in the organisation.

Doctor's prescription

Do not underestimate the power of branding; think about how quickly a company you hadn’t heard of yesterday becomes common language today. There is no reason your personal brand cannot become a household name if you showcase yourself in a considered and well thought through manner. Fill a gap currently missing in your organisation and you will find the attention of senior people isn’t far behind.

Alex Davda is a business psychologist and consultant at Ashridge Business School, based in the Middle East. Email him at for advice on any work issues.

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