If people were promoted just for being great at their job, there would undoubtedly be more women in leadership roles. But while leaders need to continue to work to make workplaces more equitable, there are also things women can do to help advance their own careers—and one of the most important may be making yourself known.
At least, it certainly worked for Gabrielle Simpson Gambrell, who advanced from a production assistant role to the first black woman to become Vice President and Head of Marketing & Communications at Barnard College by the age of 27.
She recently shared five of her strategies with the Conference for Women community.
- Use your alumni network. Gabrielle obtained a list of alumni who worked in her field and then reached out to a senior vice president at CBS. “I said, ‘I would love to take you to coffee,’” she recalled, “and he’s like, ‘I don’t have time for coffee. I’m a senior executive.’ I said, ‘Can I have five minutes of your time on the phone?’” He said yes and was impressed enough that he offered her a job.
- Work for free if it helps you get known. After finishing her job in the sales department, Gabrielle used to go over at the end of the day to the public relations department to see if she could help. They eventually created a role for her.
- Conduct informational interviews. “I went on a road show conducting informational interviews with senior executives.” She’d ask for five minutes of their time to learn about how they grew their career. After listening, she would share her goals with them. Some laughed, some admired her boldness, she recalls. But it was all worth it because “it helped me drastically in amplifying my voice to just talking about myself.”
- Keep track of your successes. “When I learn a new skill, when I am successful at work, when I conquer a project, I write it down,” Gabrielle says. That way, she has a list ready to share when she is up for an annual review or promotion.
- Make the most of LinkedIn. “I was able to grow and be promoted four times in six years because I was constantly making connections,” she says—making it a point to go on LinkedIn every day. “Use your platforms to tell your story because it all comes back to you.”
Gabrielle Simpson Gambrell shared these insights and more at the 2019 Massachusetts Conference for Women. You can listen to the entire session here.