Establishing and maintaining a personal brand that highlights your strengths, knowledge and experience is a good way to propel your career, but staying up to date on all the current events, information and trends can be exhausting when trying to meet other work and life deadlines.
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To help prioritize what information deserves your attention, experts recommend first knowing where you want to go with your career.
“If you’re in a strategic role in an organization, you would hope you’re on top of the competition,” says Mike Steinerd, director of sales recruiting at career website Indeed. If you’re looking to move to another job, look for information to connect you with that industry’s top players and stay current on the latest news and trends.
The rise of technology has made it easier to access information on every topic, but it has also saturated consumers with data overload, making it hard to identify valuable and pertinent information.
It’s easy to miss something—be strategic and selective when researching career and industry news, says Amanda Augustine, job search expert at TheLadders. “There are thousands of resources and you can’t spend your day reading.” Knowing your end goal will help you decide how to spend your research time and which resources to read and use.
“There are times when you have to streamline your information and there are times when you have to formulate your pitch and be up on current trends,” says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert.
Knowing what to keep track of really comes down to an individual’s circumstance. Between the endless list of blogs, online chats, MeetUps and trade magazines, experts recommend the following tips on how to propel your career forward.
What Should You Read?
Defining your goals will dictate how you acquire information and how you deliver it back, says Williams. “Every time you read an article, in order for you to do something with this, ask what the point is and who you can share this with.”
Choose one or two resources for general news, as well as a few industry resources, she says. “Take a deep dive into your industry.” Experts recommend asking your boss, mentor or a trusted colleague what they read to help you stay current with colleagues.
Be very specific about the topics you follow and figure out how to get that information, says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com. Set up Google alerts and be strategic with social media. “Social media is easy and you can let it tell you who to follow but you do need to participate in the process.” As the landscape evolves, she advises following people in your industry who matter and not those who don’t add value.
“It doesn’t matter how much you read unless you do something with it,” says Williams. When you give back the knowledge you obtain, it should better the life of your boss and clients.
Use Your Information to Create a Brand
Your competitive edge is being able to translate content in a usable way to clients and coworkers, says Williams. Share, participate and contribute content that’s relevant to you, your career community and clients. “You’re going to stamp this content in a way that’s true to your brand.”
“If you’re in a room and leave, what would people say about you—that’s your personal brand,” says Haefner. Figure out whether other people’s perceptions match the reputation that you want to have.
Be very cognizant of your online brand—whether it’s a business or human resources professional looking for talent, they will scour the Internet looking for information, says Steinerd. “You have to be conscience of what you say online and if there’s a consistent message.”
Experts recommend developing your own point of view, whether it’s on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. “Show that you’re in the know and share content relevantly—tweet out articles to people or share them on LinkedIn,” says Williams. If there’s a really great industry blog, commenting on articles is a great way to share your opinion.
If you make your comments public, make sure they reflect a certain theme, says Steinerd. By sharing your thoughts you’ll demonstrate that you’re online savvy and abreast of what’s happening in a particular industry. “Be careful that it’s not too extreme,” he says.
What you’re tweeting and retweeting on Twitter can also help convey your personal brand, says Haefner. “There becomes this pattern or theme and that’s what you’re creating as your personal brand.”
Another way to share content is through a blog. “A blog is more substantial and has to be done well,” says Haefner. Good blogs have a theme, entice the right target audience and are steadily maintained. If you don’t want to create your own blog, experts suggest inquiring your HR or talent acquisition department or your public relations group if your company has one.
Don’t forget about face-to-face networking as an information source. “Getting out and joining different associations and networking groups can help you hone your communication skills,” says Steinerd. Experts suggest joining trade organizations that will help you expand your network.
“Attend different events and trade shows to sharpen your skills and grow your network,” suggests Augustine. These help to build a credible presence within your chosen field and open you up to new job opportunities. “If you find events, webinars or other types of workshops that would be beneficial to your team, share them with your manager and colleagues.”
Use Your Brand and Knowledge to Get a Job
If you’re looking for a job in 2013, get smart and research companies, says Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor. Knowing what other people say online will help you make informed decisions.
Workplace transparency and social media can help you identify companies that you want to work for—engage them through social media and follow these companies on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. “Sometimes it’s liking an article or asking a question that shows you’re engaged and thinking,” says Dobroski.
“Say yes to everything until an offer comes your way,” says Dobroski. Meet with every company because you don’t want just a job, you want a better fit job. “The door should always be open. Let them know another position is really your priority and they may want to work with you.”