How to Start Building an Industry Presence

Yesterday, I wrote 10 Ways to Get Employers to Find You.  Today, I want to give you a simple, easy to follow plan to get started utilizing a few of these techniques.

You’re probably thinking that this isn’t going to be easy, no matter what I say.  The truth is, it can be easy if you make it easy.  Despite this, very few people will do what is necessary.  This isn’t because the techniques are difficult to implement.  The reason that few people will do these things is that they are slow to work.

Most people want a quick solution.  A slow, methodical plan, no matter how effective, just isn’t appealing.  If you want employers to seek you out, you need to do two things, and neither can be achieved overnight.  You need to become a recognized expert in your field and you need to build a huge network of professionals that know and respect you.

The Step-by-Step Plan

  • Step 1: Setup a LinkedIn account and build a profile.  This will give people a place to learn about you and your career.
  • Step 2: On LinkedIn each week, invite one or two people in your industry that you don’t know to connect to you on LinkedIn.  To do this, consider getting a premium account on LinkedIn. It will make the process much easier.
  • Step 3: Start following the LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers for topics in your field.  Participate by answering a few questions a week.
  • Step 4: Search for blogs and forums related to your industry and pick one or more to follow.  Participate in the discussions by posting comments.
  • Step 5: Write one or two articles per month and post them on an article marketing site.
  • Step 6: As you build a library of articles you have written, begin referencing these in you Answers, blog and forum postings. This will reinforce with your network that you are an expert and that you actively contribute to the field.

Time Commitment

Building a network is not something that will happen over night.  It will take work and time.  Fortunately, the time commitment isn’t huge.

  • LinkedIn Profile Setup – 5 Hours – One-Time: Setting up a profile can be done very quickly, but to do this right, it will take a few hours.  The more time you put in writing about your background the more effective the profile will be.
  • Invitations – 10 min/wk: Sending one or two invites per week will only take a minute or two.  What may take time is conversing with your new connections.  Some will accept your invites without a response.  Others will send a personal email and start a discussion to get to know you.
  • Answers – 30 min/wk: The time commitment here is up to you. 30 minutes a week to read and answer questions can be very effective.
  • Blog Comments – 30 min/wk: Reading and participating in blogs and discussions can be effective with 30 minutes a week.
  • Articles – 1-2 Articles per month – Time Varies: The time commitment here will vary with your writing skill.  Some people can knock out really good articles very quickly.  Others may require 10 or more hours per article.  The key isn’t writing a lot, it’s being consistent over time.  One article per month will develop a significant portfolio over next couple years.  Expect the first few articles to take some time, but you will get faster and it will get easier with time.

If you follow these steps, you will build relationships and propel your career forward.  Because this is a slow process, few people will take the time to do this.  If you do this, you will differentiate yourself from your competition.  Don’t give up if you can’t devote this much time – just scale back to what you can do.

The Results

Now, fast forward a couple years.  You decide you want to make a career change, and start the process by contacting people in your network and ask them for help.  Some of the individuals you have developed a relationship with will be happy to recommend you to their companies.  Their referral will be more than just passing your resume to HR.  They will be able (and probably very willing) to share with key managers that you are an expert in the field, have published a number of industry articles and are a resource others in the industry turn to with questions.  In most cases, you’re going to get a very close look and have a great chance of getting hired.