Take this Job and...
As I've been posting my thoughts on business development, sales and marketing, I've been thinking on how what I'm posting can apply to anyone and everyone. Really, adding sales and marketing to your professional bag of tricks makes you more "marketable" in your career. I think back to every office manager I worked with. Seemingly, if that person didn't have an "above and beyond" work ethic, that position was not hard to replace, but if that person was responsible for referring in $20,000 worth of business every year, then they are truly irreplaceable or at least much more costly to replace. See what I am getting at...
As I write this post, the unemployment rate in the US is holding steady at 9.3% (Closer to 14% in Nevada where I live; click here to see your state). I believe I can help those in the job market looking for a career opportunity, fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran with what I am about to say. In retrospect, I've spoken to many people recently who, years ago, would fight me on joining associations, keeping a growing list of contacts and engaging in social/professional networking (online & offline). When the economy was booming and businesses were in short supply of workers, it was OK to be a paycheck player and fly through your work unnoticed by your peers. Today is the polar opposite with employers looking for team members that can provide value well beyond their job description....
You Don't Need It Til You Need It
Waiting until you are out of work or in a position to look for another opportunity to build up your social media persona, get involved in associations, start volunteering with community organizations and networking in the real world is a hazardous way to manage your career. This philosophy can be compared to waiting til you've acquired diabetes to take control of your diet and exercise. The point is if you are in your comfort zone in your current professional role and don't see the need for any of what was just mentioned, well, you are wrong. I'm going to stress how your value to your company goes beyond how well you do the tasks required of you in your position.
The first step is understanding your value to your employer. Are you easily replaced? Do you bring more value to your employer than just the responsibilities outlined in your job description? Do you bring unique skills or expertise to the table? Are you considered valuable by your industry peers?
The first step is understanding your perceived value right now.
Knowing the answer to these questions is the key to beginning a process of building a professional persona. This is your brand for your career. This is something that needs to be managed and groomed to give you the most benefit... Those benefits can be anything from desired salary, to job title, to just having the creative freedom in your career to really do what you love and have others pay you well for it. The main elements of your professional persona (at least from my point of view) are:
- Internal/Employee Reputation
- Industry Professional Reputation
- Industry Social Reputation
One Part Social, Two Parts Professional
There are some out there that put a very solid wall between their work life and their social life. There is good reason for some, but this can be a detriment to your career. People help the people they like. They like the people that socialize with them. This can be your boss, your co-worker, an investor, an industry thought leader or whoever. If you are not open to friendships with your professional contacts, then you can't expect friendly help from them. I'm going to explain the path I chose and I what I do that ensures I will never have to be a piece of paper in a stack of resumes.
In 2007, I created my online persona. I wanted to own the search for "Darren Withers" on Google. It took time, I won't lie, but the end result is something to be proud of. I spent two weeks on my couch in December 2006. I didn't shave or do much else. I spent hours inputting information into every relevant social media site I could. I drafted a boiler plate for all the "about me" sections, updated my professional skills, researched and began to Search Engine Optimize myself. The sites I started with were:
I began to link the different profiles together to make sure there was only good information that I wanted out there. Once this process was completed, within a few weeks I was very happy with the search term results for "Darren Withers." I had taken control of what others would see if they were to research who I was.
As time went on, I added to my online activities. I also launched this blog in 2007. I was aiming to become a thought-leader as I moved toward launching my own consulting business. I won't go through too much about this blog since you must be here reading this post, so you can see how long it's been up. I write about things relevant to the marketing industry but I do add a bit of my own personality by sharing some personal stories as well. I feel like someone reading all of my posts might not just get some value out of it, but might even be able to connect with me as a person.
Taking control of your online persona is the first step to building your network database. This is the step that will make you look that much better to employers as they see that you are utilizing social channels that could ultimately help them and their business. Recognizing the tools that you have available to you and how they can be helpful in driving up your value to a company is critical to achieving your career goals. I'll follow up this post with more on social networking and then what to do with your database of contacts. Please feel free to jump back to the first of the Business Development Series: Where the Network Begins. It's a pretty good how-to on networking at events and how to be the most effective. Make sure you online persona is in place before networking out in the real world.
The post is dedicated to someone I'm trying to help get their career shoes on. "Let's blow it up!"