Most of my career has been spent working for four organizations. And, for different reasons, I was fortunate enough to be able to take some time when leaving one and joining another. It enabled me to take time to regroup after a lengthy tenure at a fast-paced high tech company, and another to spend some time with my young children. Recently I was able to take a year off to spend some quality time with my ailing mother before she passed.
Each new job I started came as a result of someone approaching me. Call it luck, serendipity, or the result of astute employers knowing a good thing when they saw it (I like to think it’s the latter). Whatever it was, the fact is I never had to network to find employment. For the past few months I’ve started reaching out to my network of friends and former work colleagues. This can be somewhat frustrating.
Up until this point I never bothered to pay much attention to keeping an online profile. I’m a social person, but I also like to keep somewhat private. Constantly updating my profile for the world doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t think it ever will, but I realize I’ve got to do it. Although I’ve been tweeting under two anonymous accounts for years now, I need to create a twitter handle that identifies me. I don’t have a facebook page. My professional online network is limited to LinkedIn, and even that had been rather neglected until just recently.
After updating my LinkedIn page, I joined several LinkedIn groups related to Marketing and Communications. I have been spending most of my time monitoring the activity to get a sense of the type of individual that participates and the conversation style – once I feel confident that my comments will have value, I’ll begin participating. Until then, I don’t want to be doing myself a disservice by jumping in ill-prepared.
Moving forward I plan to participate in the LinkedIn groups, and then discover other groups that will continue to expand my network. I also plan to begin exploring relevant blogs that could increase my profile by providing valuable comments. Once I’ve established myself in a few of these groups I’m hopeful I’ll be able to meet some of the other contributors at marketing/communications functions and events.
I also plan to finally create my Twitter account to use to further my career. After using Twitter for years I know how it works and feel comfortable with the technique. I’ve also already been following many of the top marketing/communications leaders – now it’s time to begin contributing to the conversations and building my own following under the real me.
A little further down the road, once I’ve firmly established myself in LinkedIn and Twitter, I plan to begin blogging. It might make more sense to create the blog first, but the Twitter account works best for my schedule now. And, hopefully I’ll be able to build a large following that will be a solid potential audience for my first blog post when the time comes. And of course, I plan to leverage these accounts to arrange face-to-face meetings with people who can either help expand my knowledge base or find me a suitable employer.
What about you? What do you plan to do to boost your professional networking in the future?