As college graduates enter the workplace, particularly in PR, they are inundated with tips on professionalism, email etiquette and happy hour how-tos. All of these tips are great but one factor is still greatly overlooked: indispensability. I have been working in PR long enough to know that no matter how good of a writer you are one of the best ways to gain trust (and allies) in the workplace is to become essential to your boss.
There is a sense of anxiety when we talk about what you can do for your boss. After all, millennials are throwing away most work related cultural norms. And for good reason. There was a time when being an asset to your boss meant grabbing coffee for them at all hours and buying their spouse an anniversary gift. These sorts of tasks are no more, but there are ways to be invaluable while simultaneously standing out and preserving autonomy.
Here are some of my tips:
R E L I A B I L I T Y
There are ways to be reliable that are pretty obvious – showing up on time and being at all meetings are one thing. But there are others that can really make or break your relationship with your boss. PR is known for its unreliability, things can seem like they’re going well and then a wrench gets thrown into plans. When the going gets tough, being an active member of the team and helping with the fall out can really make them see you as an important part of the team. You won’t have all the answers, but being a problem solver can be good for your work relationship.
Speak loud and proud
It might seem daunting to be part of a team meeting while your boss throws around ideas for PR strategies and gets things into action. If you feel like you have an idea that is relevant and can help get the event moving or can benefit the company (and yourself) don’t be afraid to speak up! More often than not a fresh perspective can help shift the conversation into a place even those with a decade of experience hadn’t thought about before.
There are no hidden talents
Are you bilingual? Trilingual? Were once a competitive dancer? Being able to take the clients (and the company/agency) places it hasn’t gone before by sending international pitches, translating collateral, or finding a dancer for an event will prove to your boss you’re an asset. Not only did you bring something to the table but you just got yourself a seat at the table.
It can be difficult to seem hard to replace without having to live up to high expectations, but being there for your boss and colleagues doesn’t have to involve heroic feats. The tips I outlined are just some of many ways to seem irreplaceable. You can also attend conferences, networking events or happy hours with colleagues. The more knowledgeable you become and the more time you spend on a team the harder it will seem to get work done without you.