You’ve got a good job. You’ve done well in your work and have several impressive accomplishments to add to your resume. You’ve created a killer CV and you’ll get glowing references if you need them.
But in today’s competitive job market, is that enough to get you those plum jobs that can take you to the next step in your career? And how do you hear about those great gigs that often aren’t advertised or come through a recruiter?
Getting people talking about you and getting your name out there requires more than just being successful at your job. To boost your career and reach your optimal earning potential, you must create a personal brand built with ongoing extracurricular activities. Here are seven simple tips for creating and maintaining an image in your profession that will help you climb the ladder faster than you can ever hope to achieve with traditional methods of job searching.
Get your name out there by joining professional and trade associations. Your options include national associations, regional groups or state and local chapters. When you join a national association, get involved with its regional or local chapter, which can serve as a springboard to increased exposure at the national level.
Government employees are often limited as to what they can write online or in print. But if you’re not prohibited from writing, volunteer to pen an article for professional association newsletter or your profession’s trade magazine. Start a blog in your area of expertise if you feel you can write valuable content that positions you as an expert. If you aren’t comfortable with running your own blog, find a website or blog you think is credible and offer an expert article or arrange contributor status for yourself. Not a great writer yet? Take an introductory journalism class at your local community college or enroll in a business-writing workshop. This will also help you produce better work product throughout your career. Bonus: your employer might pay for business-related professional development courses.
Look for chances to give presentations at conferences, seminars, workshops or lunch-and-learns. If you’re not comfortable with your public-speaking skills, offer to serve as a member of a panel. Joining Toastmasters is a great way to build your speaking skills. Visit the websites of different events to get a feel for their audience, what type of topics they cover and who their previous speakers have been. One way to get your foot in the door is to write an article for a group’s website or newsletter before their speaker-selection process begins. Learn your agency’s or department’s policies regarding public speaking before you offer your services or accept an invitation. [Related: Top 12 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking]
#4: Manage your Online Reputation
If you haven’t done a vanity search on Google lately, put your name into a search engine and do so. You might find chat room, forum or review posts you made years ago that you now regret. See if you can edit or delete them or get the forum admin to remove them. You might find inaccurate or outdated information in an old bio someone wrote about you accompanying an article you wrote or speech you gave. If your Facebook privacy settings let the public access your page, consider limiting access to friends only. Ask friends to delete awkward posts you’ve made on their pages in the past.
#5: Network in Person
In addition to connecting to peers on LinkedIn and keeping in touch via email and letters, attend business and social events that put and keep you in touch with important people. Attend trade shows, sign up for seminars, mix at cocktail parties, enter business golf and tennis tournaments and go to importance conferences.
#6: Maximize your LinkedIn Profile
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or you haven’t maximized it, visit your page and make sure it’s up to date. [Related: 7 Simple Ways to Update Your LinkedIn Profile] View your profile as a potential employer, headhunter or professional association committee member will. Make sure anyone visiting your page can quickly get a clear idea about where you’ve been, who you are and where you want to go. Avoid clutter and get to the point – no one will hire you just off your LinkedIn page. Use it to tease people into wanting to know more.
#7: Try Board Service
Getting on a board of directors is an effective way to build your network, boost your profile and increase your credibility, and might be easier than you think. Many nonprofits are begging for people willing to serve on a board. Start small, with a local nonprofit like an animal shelter or recreational sports league, volunteering to serve on a committee. After your first year, you might be ready to take over as the committee’s chair. Let the organization know you’re interested in serving on the board of directors. Many groups will train you for board service, letting you serve as a member at large or secretary as you learn the ropes. Don’t be surprised if your agency or department restricts how and when you can participate with nonprofits, even those not related to your profession. Check with your supervisor or HR department to find out if there are any restrictions on volunteerism.
For the Very Motivated: Go Social
If you’re really ambitious about creating a professional brand that positions you as an SME in your area, you’ll need to spend a few hours each week creating a comprehensive social media persona. You can start your own blog using a program like WordPress, open a Twitter account and begin sending informational tweets, publish one or more eBooks using services like CreateSpace or Scrivener, create podcasts, take advantage of Reddit and Tumblr, and open a Google Authorship account. If you don’t have several hours to dedicate to maintaining your public persona each week, your rep might suffer if you’ve got multiple inactive and outdated pages and sites on the Internet.
What have you done to make yourself memorable among your peers or stand out in your field?