Regardless of whether you are a student looking for an internship or a first job after college, or a seasoned professional, it helps to make yourself more attractive to prospective employers. How do you do this? The idea is to make yourself more credible to employers, add to your overall marketability, and increase name recognition. If more people know about you and your skills, employers are more likely to take interest in you. The goal is to provide more information about yourself, and increase the number of people in your industry that can vouch for you. The list of action items involves a mix of online and physical actions. Like networking, it is always a good idea to mix traditional and new techniques, and not rely too heavily on one or the other (traditional=old fashioned, face-to-face meetings; new=online)
Join/Participate in Professional Organizations: If you haven’t already, find out where your professional peers meet. Find a few good ones that meet locally and online and join! These people are potential coworkers and managers. It may not get you a job tomorrow, but it is always a good idea to consort with others in your industry. If you are a student, please do not feel intimidated by meeting people who have been working for a while:
- People love to help students!
- Organizations that normally charge a membership fee usually have a discounted student rate!
- If you start now, you will hit the ground running when graduation comes!
Blogging/Writing:Writing and sharing your valuable information with others is a great way to increase your visibility and credibility. Blogging somewhat simple, and can be a great way to share with others. It is also a great way to organize papers, presentations, and articles that you have written. It can easily display a lot of information, of which prospective employers will read. Are there professional organizations that solicit outside written contributions? This is an excellent way to get exposure in your industry. There are also other forms of sharing, which include e-books, manuals, and other websites. While these may be more advanced, they are also excellent ways to share. And they may could potentially start a revenue stream for you.
LinkedIn: I have covered LinkedIn on this blog. If you haven’t already, join LinkedIn and start connecting with friends and professional contacts. LinkedIn is, by far, the most widely used online networking website. It is a great way to keep in touch with your contacts, manage your recommendations, create an online profile, and find/meet new people.
Twitter: At first glance, Twitter is a great way to broadcast your message. You can tweet a new blog post, an interesting article, or just keep in touch with contacts. But the real value of Twitter is its ability to create a vast audience, but to also listen to a vast audience. If you are looking to forge and make more contacts/network, this should be on your list of things to do. There are online discussions that you can follow, other knowledgeable people share interesting articles and thoughts, and it is all searchable. Companies are beginning to keep in touch with customers and followers via Twitter. More companies (and recruiters) are announcing job openings via Twitter. I will be writing a series on how to leverage Twitter in future posts.
Become Involved: Volunteer, pick a cause, offer your services to a local school. These are all good ways to contribute to society and to network with a variety of folks. While it is good to know the pulse of your industry, it is also sometimes good to get out of your industry and network with others. It can give you perspective on your own industry, but it can also introduce you to entirely new circles of groups/people whom with to network.
Create Something: Something not working? Is there a need to solve a particular problem? Your ideas and pain points are likely shared by others. This may be a great opportunity to either start your own business, or start a group or movement to collectively solve the problem. Either way, this creates visibility and credibility amongst your professional peers.
Become An Expert: How do others begin to perceive you as an expert? Get involved in discussions which take place online or at professional group meetings/shows. Answer questions that people post on LinkedIn groups, Quora, Yahoo/Google groups, etc. People will take notice, so may choose to “follow” you if they value your input. This is easy exposure, and can augment your credibility (can also degrade your reputation, so post carefully and thoughtfully).
Speak: Do you belong to professional organizations? Such meetings are a great way to increase your exposure amongst your professional peers. Speaking at support groups, church groups, anyplace that might gather a group of people with a common interest may be a good idea. Organizers of these meetings are always looking for fresh faces and speakers. Get connected!