5 Effortless Actions That Boost Your Reputation at Work

Workin' Girl

We're all looking for quick wins at work, but we often overlook the simplest ways to stand out. While perceived worth is typically expressed via charts and quantitative measures, it's important to remember that value is totally subjective and does not always require a tremendous lift in order to make an impact.

While there is no substitute for hard work and meeting basic expectations, quick alterations to our day-to-day activities in the office can go a long way. Does your boss keep mentioning a particular topic? Send him a relevant article about it. Is your coworker nervous about an upcoming presentation? Offer to lend a listening ear and provide suggestions.

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Doing the little things can add up to make a big difference.

Whether you're working towards securing that promotion or simply want to make a good impression, here are 5 easy ways to boost your reputation at work.

Send Thank You Emails & Handwritten Letters

One of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor was the importance of sending a follow up email or handwritten letter, especially after an interview or networking event. It can be difficult to stand out amongst tens or even hundreds of applicants, but sometimes, a well-thought-out letter can make the difference.

Tip: Be specific, pick 1-2 things that stood out to you, but be concise. You don't need to write a novel to show that you care.

Remember Personal Information

It's so simple, but the occasional, "How was your son's soccer game?" or "Happy Birthday!" can show that you're listening and care about the people you work with. Regardless of the workload, people are still people, and hopefully, have real lives. Humanize the process.

Tip: Input birthdays or important office events into your calendar.

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Ask For Feedback

Do not wait until it's time to receive feedback from your quarterly performance review to learn for the first time that your team and/or supervisor has an issue with something that you're doing. This feedback-blindness can not only stunt your upward mobility prospects, but leave you with an inadequate amount of time to improve perceptions. While it can be uncomfortable to probe your boss regarding areas that you can improve, especially if they "act" like everything you do is great. Consistently requesting feedback shows initiative and provides you with receipts if you are confronted with unexpected negative feedback during your next performance review.

Tip: Request weekly or biweekly informal 15-minute "catch-ups" to check in and discuss your progress/performance.

Come to Work Early/Leave Late

While certainly the least glamorous suggestion, I was once told that as a more junior employee. you never arrive after or leave before your manager. Every workplace is different, but coming a few minutes early or leaving a few minutes later every day can underscore your dedication to your job and maybe even provide you with extra opportunities for facetime with your boss.

Tip: Get a good night's rest or drink caffeine – maybe even bring enough for two.

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Be Friendly to Everyone Regardless of Status

No one wants to be around a negative person, especially if you work in a high stress environment. Smiling and maintaining an authentic positive attitude can really make you stand out. That being said, it's important to be kind and treat everyone with respect, regardless of status. Your reputation is comprised of the holistic perceptions of those around you and you'll never know if someone you once managed could end up as your future boss. Relationships matter.

Tip: Smile!

As Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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