Work & Purpose

How to Avoid Being Marginalized at Work

Getting no respect? Here's how to change that.

(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.) Ever go to a restaurant and get seated in the very back? The minute you sit down, you realize you’re going to be in for a long night because the waiter always seems to forget you’re there.

What if the same thing happens at work and you get seated in the equivalent of the “kids’ table.”

In the workplace, you wind up with a lot worse than cold soup and an empty drinking glass: You could be passed over for opportunities that could improve your career.

(MORE: How to Say No to Your Boss)

There are a lot of reasons why people seem to be “out of sight, out of mind” at work. While a poor cubicle or office location can be an obvious way to marginalize someone, other situations also contribute to many talented people being left out in the cold.For example, if you telecommute, or if you absent yourself from staff social and networking events, it is easy for others to forget you when the time comes to pass out the plum projects.
How can you keep the spotlight on your accomplishments and potential if you drew a poor seat or aren’t in the office regularly?
Keep these tips in mind for various situations if you want to take charge of your career:
You Telecommute
If you never see your colleagues in person, don’t be surprised when they forget about you! Use technology to keep in touch. Between email, IM, texting, phone calls and even video or Skype meetings, you can make it seem like you’re right next door, instead of two or three states away.(MORE: Make Your Home Office Work for You)

When you don’t have true “face time” with the boss or your team, the onus is even more on you to stay engaged via FaceTime or another technology tool.

No matter how busy you are, schedule regular opportunities to touch base to update your boss on your projects and to discuss plans for the future. If you fly under the radar, it’s your own fault.

You’re an Introvert
Not everyone likes to attend in-person networking events or happy hours. Regardless of your preference, in some office environments, it’s clear that being engaged personally with colleagues and supervisors is key to success.Do your best to participate in staff get-togethers as often as possible, and consider offering to arrange opportunities to socialize that are more conducive to your preferences. For example, if every staff networking event is at the corner tavern and you don’t drink, think of more palatable alternatives.
Set up a co-ed staff soccer or softball league, a viewing party for a television program everyone enjoys or a book club. While these may still take you out of your comfort zone, at least you’ll have some say about the event if you are planning it, so it should be a little easier to manage. If the result is a great, casual conversation with your boss (or the boss’s boss) that lands you a great gig, it will have been worth it.
No One Knows You Outside the Office
Maybe you got stuck in a cubicle in the back corner because no one likes you at work. If that’s the case, it’s time to expand your network and start impressing people outside of your office with your accomplishments and savvy.Turn to social media to meet people who don’t work with you. Find like-minded colleagues around the city, state, country and globe and exchange messages, insights and ideas. Post links to demonstrate you have your finger on the pulse of your industry. If you play your cards well, you could have some new job offers or invitations to apply for new opportunities without even officially seeking a new job.
Another way to get some respect if you don’t have it at work is to join your professional organization and begin to volunteer. Every organization needs and values its volunteers and leaders, so this is a great way to grow the number of people who know and like you and may be willing to refer you to a better opportunity than the one you have.
It’s Up to You
Don’t take a poor situation at work sitting down. Be the squeaky wheel and let superiors know how you’re contributing, whether you’re working across the globe or across the hall.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Business Success, Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success.

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