Are you taking part in the online conversations that are happening on the topics that are important to you and the development of your career? Or are you on the sidelines when it comes to participating in online communities, social networks, etc?
If you are not part of the conversations that are important to your career, you can’t learn from those conversations. Nor can you influence those conversations. And in the future when potential employers look online to see if you have participated, they will not see you.
You are responsible for how you are perceived online. If you are not managing your online brand, then it is being shaped for you (perhaps by those pictures your friends are posting on Facebook).
The following 12 steps can help you take control of your online personal brand.
- Document Your Career Goals. Have a balance of short term and long term goals. For each goal, think about how participating in online communities and social networks could help you achieve those goals.
- Document Your Top 4-5 Career Related Topics. These are the most important topic domains that you need to master in order to become an authoritative source of information a subject matter expert for the duration of your career. Think about the topics that you can remain passionate about for a long time.
- Analyze Your Existing Social Network And Online Presence. How does your current social network and online presence align with your documented goals? How can you build stronger ties and increase your ability to learn?
- Master The Online Productivity Tools. You need to have a good foundation in order to maximize your ability to collaborate online. These new social tools can help your collaboration efforts be more productive. Spend time educating yourself on how to use Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.
- Research / Collect Information. Learn where the online sources are for information related to your 4-5 main career topics. Visit these sites often. Collect and maintain a master folder of documents, resources, Web links, etc., which have been helpful to you. You will want this for step 11 below.
- Document Where The Buzz Is Online. Check out my social-search bookmarks on delicious and learn how to search the social media. Search on each of your 4-5 career topics you listed in step 2 above. Document where the online conversations are happening for those topics. Document who are the most influential online people. Find out where those influential people are hanging out online. Maintain a list of URLs (suggest you book them on delicious).
- Join Online Communities. For the topics that are important to your career goals, join the most active online communities, groups, and networks. Connect with and then ask members where else they connect with like-minded people.
- Move Your Conversations Online. For the topics that are important to your career goals, cut down on email conversations and increase your online conversations in those places you’ve identified above.
- Manage Your Personal Online Brand. Take control of your virtual online presence. Establish and keep all your profile(s) updated. Make sure that when people look for you online…which they will…information about you is current and accurate. Your effort here is all about helping you achieve the goals documented in step 1 above.
- Connect With The Community Champions. ‘Friend’ the most active people in the online communities that are important to your career objectives. Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow their blogs, tweets, and community posts. Post replies to their blogs and retweet their Tweets. Share insights with them and point them to your online content.
- Share Your Knowledge Wealth. For the communities you have joined, increase your online conversations. Post comments in discussion forums and on blog posts. Share your bookmarks. Share the insights and opinions you’ve formed as a result of your efforts in documenting where the online buzz is. Save time by organizing your centralizing all of your thoughts on each topic area into document templates with URL links to those sites, blog posts, etc., that you feel are the most important.
- Establish Yourself As An On-line Authority. Establish and maintain a presence on all sites where your 4-5 career topics are being discussed. Be a visible and active participant in the most important communities. For the topics that matter most to your career, establish your own online site/blogs/communities. Link to other authoritative blogs and communities often and continue sharing your insights and opinions on those sites as well as developing your own site.
Don’t sit idle on the sidelines. Take responsibility for your future and get involved in the online conversations happening about the topics you are passionate about. You have important ideas to share with the rest of us. We will all learn from your experience, thoughts, and content.