By Margot Smith FIML
Whether you’re just starting out or are a well-established leader ‘flying under the radar’ – it is important to build your profile.
At different times of your career, this will become more important too. When you are starting out, seeking a promotion, changing jobs or exploring board positions – having a presence becomes more present in your mind.
There are a number of ways you can do this. And IML ANZ can support you in your effort to make a name for yourself or you can spread your wings far and wide. Listed in increasing levels of commitment and you may step from one to the other over time, think about which of these options suit you now and which ones you can work up to:
While virtual networking has taken over from face-to-face in recent times, each type has its place. You can start with connecting on LinkedIn – just don’t forget to send a personal message with your ‘connect’ request about where you have met them in the past or why you are connecting.
As face-to-face meetings ramp up, networking events will once again become a great way to meet others who can support you on your journey (and you on theirs). Also, ask those in your network if there is anyone that you should meet for coffee or a Zoom coffee to help you make that next career leap. You may meet someone in a meeting, at a BBQ, volunteering for a good cause, or in a virtual networking event – you never know who might help you make your next move so always put your best foot forward.
Posting on social media
If you want to start a conversation or share some research then LinkedIn is your go-to destination. Many people try to sell stuff, but the richest content is research, opinion pieces, and even polls – anything that helps you get a feel for what’s on people’s minds. This is a great way to become an expert in a particular area. Pick a key area and post relatively frequently (how often you post will depend on how much you have to say).
You will see quite quickly how much your content is liked, commented on and shared so this will give you valuable immediate feedback on which topics are popular with your audience.
Once you’ve graduated past LinkedIn, try your hand at a blog. You could start your own, or you could offer to provide an article to a professional body or industry publication. Best to start with a topic you are experienced in and come up with a way to structure it that makes it easy to understand. Do you have a deep understanding of managing upwards – then provide some do’s and don’ts. Or is negotiating more your thing – provide a handful of ways to improve negotiating for senior leaders.
Blogs can be anywhere from 600 words to 1,500 words. Think about adding a couple of testimonials from other sources, an image or two, some hyperlinks for references and keep the language simple. If you’ve used a recipe online in a blog – you’ll have seen how the blogger goes on and on about their love of the recipe and you just want to get to the ingredients and method. Don’t draw out your ‘ingredients’ and ‘method’. Be concise and say something unique. Before you submit the article, you may want to get some feedback from a friend or colleague. This is a good way to test the content, and tweak as required.
Committees and boards are a great way to get involved in something you are passionate about and good at. You can also develop leadership skills – influencing, negotiating, policy-making, and so forth – depending on the nature of the committee.
Most of the committees I’ve joined have been through my networks – either by me proactively contacting a well-networked connection, or else by being approached by a friend to join a committee. There are also organisations and groups that advertise committee and board positions – just do your homework to ensure that you’ll secure a position.
IML ANZ has an Advocacy Network across Australia and New Zealand. Get in touch if this is something that you’d like to hear more about.
Speaking at events
There are a number of ways that you can start your foray into speaking at events. You could start by opening and closing the events, you could moderate a panel discussion, and then move into speaking as a panellist in the discussion. Once you’re feeling confident, take centre stage as the main speaker.
Much like LinkedIn or blogs – pick a topic that you are an expert in. Draw on your own examples and case studies, do some research, maybe add some quotes. The usual rule applies – keep it simple.
Be sure to get some feedback from someone in the audience and take that into your next presentation.
Build up to doing a combination of these and have fun with it. Your profile should be a reflection of you – your authentic voice speaking about things that you enjoy doing and that you’re good at. We are not one dimensional, so think laterally and enjoy making your mark.