The Web universe has enabled us all to attract professional success more quickly than ever before – but try not to commit too many faux pas during your journey! Here are a few pointers that will help to enhance your career karma:
Number 1: As Austin Powers would say, behave! Keep your personal life out of professional fora such as LinkedIn, and share it instead in other arenas like Facebook. Potential employers and clients will first search for you online. Facebook activities can be more free-spirited, and sharing your personal side may work in your favour.
Number 2: Actively participate in online communities closely aligned with your professional goals. Don’t just sign up with a community and then expect that the world will seek you out, because it won’t. Instead, get out there and network and you’ll find that people are drawn to you almost magically. LinkedIn’s Groups Directory is a great place to start.
Number 3: Nurture your network. Give before you get, and after something great happens (say, after you’ve landed a great new job or found a great new client) just keep right on giving. Your competition will be doing this throughout their own careers. Maintaining your network needn’t take much time; William Arruda, a thought leader in this area, offers some great ideas on how to do it in as little as 9 minutes a day. Sign up with Hootsuite (even their free plan is pretty helpful) to learn how to organize, schedule, and even automate your social media postings.
Number 4: Become an SME (Subject Matter Expert). Jesse Torres has some great ideas (some quick, some not so) on this topic. Check out offline resources like Josh Kaufman’s book The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast!. When it’s time to convert your knowledge to social media content, start by Googling something like “how to create good content for social media” and go from there. Social Media Examiner has some good pointers for developing a good social media content strategy.
You don’t have to be any kind of guru, and don’t feel intimidated by other experts in the field. The treasure trove of online knowledge will enable you to build your expertise much more quickly today than before the Web arrived. Just focus on fortifying your knowledge to the point that you can start providing helpful ideas to others (more than likely, you’re already at that point by now).
Number 5: Whenever the time does actually come to ask for something, do so confidently and directly. Ditch needy phrases “can anybody help me to…” in lieu of ones like “I’m seeking information on…”; you’re a helpful professional resource, not a needy amateur! Margie Warrell’s excellent article 7 Keys To Asking For What You Really Want (So You Get It!) mainly addresses real-life conversations, but many of her ideas also apply online.
Number 6: Thank those who have helped you! Christian Web Trends has some creative ideas for this, as does Lifelearn. Even better than thanking them is asking them if you can help them in return, which will REALLY energize your network. But follow-through is essential, otherwise you’ll come across as insincere (or even worse, as a liar).
Number 7: Seek out a variety of places to build your online presence. LinkedIn is a wonderful resource, but don’t stop there. Put together your own website. Entrepreneur has a great blog devoted to this, Forbes has published a very useful article on web design, and Inc. has a great list of do’s and don’ts. Don’t worry about making your website too sexy; it can be very simple; often “less is more” (and there are a lot of over-cluttered sites out there).
You can do much more than just build your own website:
- Start blogging (Andrew Chen can help you with this)
- Create your own business page on Facebook.
- Fire up your business communications on Twitter.
- Check out Instagram for business.
- Exploit the visual power of Pinterest (Hootsuite has some great ideas here, and check out this free online eBook from HubSpot!)
- Post your business videos to YouTube (here are some pointers from Udemy and SproutSocial)
- Create a whiz-bang presentation and upload it to your business’s Slideshare home
Many of these sites can link to one another. And don’t forget to inform your tribe whenever you’ve built something new.
Number 8: Speak up. Share what you learn from others, but once in awhile, try to add your thoughts as well – even a single sentence can be worthwhile. Everyone can easily click “Like” or “Share”, but those professionals who take the time to contribute to discussions will become the most highly-regarded. To get good at doing this, you basically have to follow Number 4 above.
If you haven’t time to contribute your own ideas, then liking and sharing things is still a good idea as long as you don’t overdo it.
Number 9: Be sure to give credit to others for their original ideas, and NEVER plagiarize (you’ll receive some sort of bad karma in return – guaranteed). Nowadays, everyone (not just students) risks getting caught. Mashable has an interesting article about plagiarism-detecting websites.
Number 10: Post meaningful content. Avoid nauseating banalities like “It’s the start of a New Year; time to dust off the old résumé and get out there!” and “A good night’s rest will really pay off during that all-important interview!” and “When you network, pay close attention to whatever people are saying!” Everybody KNOWS these things already! I’ve actually seen this kind of drivel from people who style themselves as thought leaders. If you’re not contributing anything useful, you’re basically wasting everybody’s time.
Number 11: Be a humble eagle, not a proud peacock. Be mindful of the line separating confidence from arrogance, and never cross it. Sometimes they actually overlap; what George sees as merely self-assured, Geraldine might view as cocky. The same logic goes for sharing your sense of humour. Basically, it’s better to err on the conservative side. Save those outrageous remarks for Facebook, but don’t do anything stupid!
These are just a few strategies for safely, rapidly, and powerfully building an attractive online persona. Some you can implement right away; others (specifically, those for becoming an SME) may take more time, especially at first. But once that big ball gets rolling, it won’t just gather no moss – it’ll gather good fortune!
Paul Raworth Bennett (Founder and Principal of NOVA Career Strategies) is a résumé expert, LinkedIn consultant, and Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategist (who was lucky enough to have Susan Chritton and Kirsten Vernon as his instructors). If you want to star in your own career, Paul would be happy to connect with you via the NOVA Career Strategies website, his Twitter account, or through his LinkedIn page.