“How did you do it?” That’s a common question when people inquire as to the reputation you’ve built up. So how do you do it? Here are some simple starting steps to change your stars.
1. Decide where you want to be two years from now
It doesn’t matter what your dream is, you have just have to decide what that is. You can adjust your dream as you get more experience and more confidence. Start small if it’s too overwhelming. Before you blink your mind will be expanding to think BIG. Decide where you want to be, and start building a profile to support that dream. Help people decide who you are or they will decide for you. (Read another great blog on personal branding).
2. Use social media to grow your network
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, My Sites – all lovely, easy to use tools that can literally single handedly help you rebrand yourself for free and grow your network! Research best practices in using these tools, ignorance is not bliss in this case. You can do serious damage to your profile if you do it wrong. Make sure you know what you are doing. Whenever you meet someone in real life, add them to your social profiles straight away.
3. Brand as yourself or as a company?
If you are planning on starting a company, you might want to register all your social accounts under the company name. If you are planning on being an independant consultant, definitely register everything under your own real name. The first thing people will do is Google you; if you’ve got a whole bunch of pseudonyms on your social sites they may not find you.
4. Use good photographs for profile pics
Ever heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? It really is. Take the time / money to get a decent head and shoulders picture of yourself. Sunglasses, a hat, cigarettes, piercings, at night in the dark, blurred, half naked, in bed, with your pet / child / spouse / partner and whatever else people seem to think is ok to have as a profile pic – is not ok! (More examples of what not to do).
Share as much information with the world as you can. Don’t listen to the people that tell you you will talk yourself out of a job if you do that – it’s utter nonsense. I am living proof that sharing everything can change your world forever. Use WordPress, it’s the best blogging tool out there, also free! (Keep the personal vs company branding considerations above in mind when registering an account). Blog once a week and get your blog syndicated to local and international blogrolls like Nothingbutsharepoint, Information Worker, Bamboo Solutions and SharePoint Community.
6. Join online forums
Ask questions and answer questions like a crazy person. There are thousands of groups available on LinkedIn, you will find one in the topic you wish to specialise in. Join it and post! Likewise on Focus. It will you get positioned as a subject matter expert.
7. Get involved
Find out what user groups are available, join them and attend them religiously. Being present and consistent is a sure fire way of getting your name out there. Attend local and international industry conferences and events. Face time is critical in getting noticed, (and don’t forget to dress the part).
8. Talk sense!
There are meformers and informers. Meformers spend all day talking about themselves, what goes in the top, what comes out the bottom, spew endless ramblings and updates of every minute of their day, or squeal alot. There is nothing more boring. Informers share news, educate people, have an opinion on world events. Much more interesting to follow. Decide who you are and which category you should be in the become a respected member of your industry.
Don’t try be all things to all people – you are going to fail. Pick one thing you have a passion about and specialise in that. Partner with other passionate people to make up what you can’t / don’t want to deliver. There are still plenty of gaps in the market in the SharePoint world, it’s not too late to start right now.
10. Start today
You can do all of these steps inside your own organisation, locally, or globally. It’s completely up to you. Doing all this will help you become a subject matter expert in your field of choice.
11. Protect it
Maintain your brand, look after it, protect it for all it’s worth. Once your reputation is ruined, it can a long time to recover – especially in the SharePoint community. Everyone knows everyone. Keep your nose clean, know your craft and be nice. Don’t align to people who don’t have the same values / ethics that you do, they will bring you down and taint your brand. “Beware the company you keep”.
12. Believe in yourself
You DO have value to add. Tell that voice in your head to shut up and just start sharing. You think no-one will care what you have to say, but they will. Your unique take on something is exactly what someone out there is waiting to hear. Don’t be afraid. If you have already been wondering if you could be more, you’re right! Just do it. Be unique and use your special take on things and personality to bring a new perspective on old subjects to new people.
13. Review It
Check every one of your internal and external online profiles at least twice a year. Make sure any newly acquired skills are added to your My Sites and LinkedIn profiles, (80% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find people). If your skills are up to date, you’ve met the Universe half way. You don’t know what people are searching for, your perfectly detailed and up to date profile might be exactly what they want.
14. Don’t give up
It takes to time stand out from the crowd. You need to persevere over years and years before you really get a voice, and once you get it you have to maintain it – for more years and years. Most people don’t last longer than the first year. It takes LOTS work – you have to decide how badly you want it.
Make sure you spend alot of time listening to people. No-one does that anymore, they’re all in love with their own voices. Listen to what people have to say, make eye contact, let them finish speaking, consider what they have said, then offer your thoughts if you have been asked for them. Make sure you understand the question!!! Sounds logical, but it’s incredible how few people actually bother to do this.