In life, it is not what you know or who you know that counts — it is both!
Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book
Becoming a recognized expert in your industry and developing a large network are two steps that can propel your career. Very few people devote much if any time to either of these tasks. The ones that do, are often sought out by employers.
Both of these goals may seem extremely difficult to achieve. The truth is that they are much easier to reach than they appear. I'm going share 10 ways to improve your industry standing and build your network. These techniques will help employers find you when they need to fill a key position.
The benefits are simple:
- You will learn more and develop faster as a professional
- You will build relationships that will expose you to opportunities, often before you decide to make a career change
- You will have a network to tap into for opportunities if you find you need to make a career move
- You will meet potential employees you can hire
Most of these steps require very little time on a weekly basis. What they do require is a commitment to consistently work on them. If you do this, a few minutes each day, you can make a huge impact on your career.
To become an industry expert, recognized by your peers, it is important to study your industry. Find resources that publish good content in your field and follow them. Google Reader, RSS Feeds and other free services make this easy. If you are not familiar with these, check them out – they're really easy to use and can save a lot of time.
Once you are comfortable that you understand your field (you are probably already at this point), start contributing. Share your expertise, either by writing articles and white papers, or by participating in online discussions. In either case, you will begin interacting with people in you field you would not otherwise know.
As your presence in the field grows, your expertise will continue to increase and you will build your network.
10 Ways to Build Your Presence
- LinkedIn – Create a profile on LinkedIn and link to people in your industry. Try to add one or two new contacts every week. In a couple years, you will have 200 people in your field that you know and can help you. Remember, networking is always most effective when you look for ways to help others, not just yourself.
- Personal Website – Create a personal website outlining your background and professional interests. This gives people a chance to find you and understand your career.
- Facebook – Create a Facebook page (or Myspace or one of the other Social Networking sites) and share you career background and interests. The social networking pages are designed to be places for social interaction, but this doesn't mean they can't be used to help your career. Obama and McCain both have Facebook pages. In fact, Obama has over 40 different Facebook accounts (Virignia for Obama, NY for Obama, etc.). Janis Joplin, the singer who died in 1970, has a Facebook page. There's a book store in the UK with a page, a number of charities and a bunch of Arts festivals with Facebook pages.
- Industry Forums – Most fields have industry associations that sponsor online forums where people can post questions or participate in discussions. Join one or more of these and contribution to the group. In the IT field, searching forums has been a very effective way for recruiters to find talented candidates. If you are in an industry without an effective forum, you can start one, although this is much more time consuming.
- Article Marketing – Write articles and post them on article databases. EzineArticles.com is the biggest. By posting an article you authorize publishers to reprint your article on their websites or in print as long as they credit you as the author.
- Answers – LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo Answers both have very active communities. You can post a question on any topic if you need information. By answering questions, you can develop a reputation as an expert.
- Blog Comments – Visit blogs in your industry and post comments. Add additional information to a post or pose a question for the author.
- Hub Pages/Lens – Set up an account on Squidoo or Hubpages and create a resource page for your industry.
- Knol – This is a new article posting site on Google. Post some articles in your field.
- Blog – Start writing a blog about your industry. One or two posts a week will grow and become a significant online presence. This a bigger commitment, both in time and effort, but can be very effective. If you can't write consistently, look to the article databases like EzineArticles and publish articles from other authors to supplement what you write.
If you commit to a few of these activities on a routine, consistent basis, you will build a very effective network that will provide significant benefits to your career.