In one of my recent books, 2011 Career Plan: The Best Moves Now for a Solid Future, I make the point that one way to improve your job security is to make yourself more visible. My blog this week enlarges on this topic.
The basic point is that your employer will value only the employees they are aware of; likewise, prospective employers will be much more likely to hire job applicants who are familiar to them. You may be doing superlative work and you may have a dynamite performance appraisal or resume for showing off your accomplishments, but employers don’t like to have to read these documents. You need to find other ways to make your employer (or prospective employer) aware, on an ongoing basis, of your outstanding skills and achievements.
In the book, I suggest that the reader “start an in-house Web page, newsletter, or bulletin board showcasing the project you’re working on and soliciting suggestions from people outside the project. This will encourage them to buy into the project and make your efforts look not purely self-promotional.”
Blogging is another platform, and you can use it to build a national reputation. Focus your blog on some niche in your industry that you are well-informed about. If you can’t think of some such topic or you don’t have time to maintain a blog, consider being a frequent commenter on an existing blog. Anyone who follows a blog over time starts to recognize and appreciate the particular expertise of the people who are frequent commenters. That could be you.
Much of the impact of blogs is achieved passively; that is, blog readers come to your blog, and that’s how they become aware of you. However, you can use your blog for making active connections: Include interviews. Record a telephone interview of someone who is of interest to your readership (making it clear to the subject that you are recording the conversation), transcribe the interview, and post it on your blog. With a somewhat higher level of tech savvy, you may be able to post the interview as a podcast. Each time you do an interview and make it available, you will be connecting not only with your readers but also with the person being interviewed. This increases your visibility two ways.
Twitter is often referred to as “micro-blogging.” You can use it like a blog to make yourself a highly visible hub of information, and Twitter has the advantage of being very brief, so it can reach readers who are carrying smart phones or who simply don’t like to read long articles.
Still another way to make yourself a wellspring of information--and therefore more visible in your industry--is to publish a business directory. (I learned this idea from my cousin, Arlene Hershman, former editor of Dun's Business Month.) Assemble and publish a directory of facts about businesses and/or people in your industry. Obviously, it helps to focus on some specialized industry niche or to include some facts that are not available elsewhere (or not available in a single place). Doing the research for this directory provides an excellent pretext for you to contact everyone who matters in your industry (visibility-enhancer #1).
Being the conduit of this information is visibility-enhancer #2. Although you can get exposure by posting the directory on the Web, you may consider using teasing as a strategy: Post only a sample of your contents and make would-be readers pay a nominal subscription fee or at least register with you to get the full directory. By requiring your information-consumers to do this, you make them (a) pay additional attention to who you are, (b) place a higher value on your content, and (c) identify themselves to you, so you have a valuable list of subscribers. You need to assure your subscribers that you will not sell this list, but you may want to use the list yourself. It can expand the base of people or companies you can call for research purposes. Better yet, it can expand your network of contacts who will be helpful for future (or present) job-hunting.