|Man on a ladder at the peak of a mast, 1890-1953 (Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons)|
This model is called the PIE model - Performance, Image and Exposure, and Image and Exposure often are the difference between the two solid performers and their differing career trajectories.
Many people think it is not fair- that work should speak for itself. However, remember that almost organizations are pyramids, and when many people are good performers - the discussion that senior managers turn to when discussing good candidates for promotions are around image and exposure.
So what can you do?
First you have to get your manager and his/her manager to be your "sponsors" - and then find out who the key decision makers are for promotion discussions to the next level. Volunteer for cross functional projects so that you get as much visibility to them - without impacting your core job. Write for the company newsletter. Volunteer to train others. To present to senior management.
Then you will agree that performance is just table stakes for promotion.