With the rise of social media and easy publishing tools, 2015 is going to be the year of self-promotion through thought leadership. What does this mean for your career management strategy? It means that candidates who are looking to stand out will need to go beyond their personal brand to demonstrate their specific industry or functional area expertise.

This post will highlight the emerging trends you can join in on next year to showcase your thought leadership expertise out to your intended audience (executive recruiters and hiring managers). These include writing effective content, keyword optimization, publishing your content and tools to help expand your network.

Tools and Strategies That Will Expand Your Network
Time and time again, recruiters tell me that networking is one of the best ways to get your personal brand and thought leadership out to your audience. You’re probably already aware of the networking opportunities you have within your own company and personal network, which is a great place to start if you haven’t already saturated this market in previous years. If you’re like many modern executives, you’re actively looking to expand beyond this network in the New Year. To help with this, I would highly recommend that you do one or two of the following:

  • Join Alumni Networking Groups I've noticed some alumni networks have live events and internal networking sites, like Yammer or LinkedIn groups. These are still low hanging networking fruit (after family and friends), and could be a great place to start in the New Year.
  • Leverage MeetUp You can use MeetUp to network at professional events; but even better, you can go to events based on your personal interests or to participate in fun activities. These types of more interest-focused networking groups are often much less awkward and people are more interested in connecting rather than promoting themselves or their company. Often, the best job recommendations through networking come from friends or family, so extending your personal networks can only help your networking goals—and you might have some fun while you’re at it.
  • Grow a Strategic Social Media Presence On the larger social media sites, it's important to go beyond simply reposting articles. If you want to get the most out of these sites, you need to commit at least 15 minutes per day to targeted networking. On LinkedIn, there are some excellent groups you can focus on depending on your networking goals. You can also get reminded to keep in touch with your network using LinkedIn’s new “Connected” app. Lastly, I recommend that you make a list of people you can contact at companies you’re interested in working with and recruiters relevant to your industry and function. When introducing yourself to these key contacts, don't ask for a job—start out by connecting on similar interests or through sharing interesting industry content.
  • Moderate or Panel Events It can be difficult to get an invite to speak at events if you haven’t yet established your thought leadership platform, but it is one of the most effective ways to get your name out to a wide audience of interested and relevant people in your industry. If the opportunity comes your way, don’t hesitate—just say yes!

Effective Keyword Optimization Will Increase Your Visibility
Have you been avoiding keyword optimization? When it comes to increasing your visibility in 2015, the best way to get your profiles and career documents found online is to optimize your profile for targeted industry and functional keywords. Many candidates know this by now, so in most industries, you’ll need to effectively utilize keywords just to keep up with other candidates in search results (on BlueSteps, Google, LinkedIn, online databases, etc).

Many executives are overusing keywords, which has created a new issue—keyword stuffing (the practice of loading a webpage or document with keywords in an attempt to manipulate your ranking in search results). This drives executive recruiters and hiring managers (your readers) crazy, so don’t go overboard. Include appropriate keywords, but I would only recommend adding them every 100 words throughout your online profiles and career documents. Most online profiles and career documents also have keyword sections, which are great to use for your top ten keywords. Be careful not to overdo it in these sections either, otherwise you’ll show up in irrelevant search results. Nowadays, when it comes to keywords, less is more.

Content Creation Will Help You Express Thought Leadership Ideas
As an executive interested in sharing your thought leadership, you have now inadvertently become a content marketer. Every week, you’re publishing content through your personal blog, LinkedIn Pulse, SlideShare, social media posts and other distribution channels. Even though this is a really interesting trend, a lot of high quality thought leadership content has gone to waste due to lack of basic editing.

If you’re interested in regularly publishing your thought leadership, but writing is not one of your strengths, seek out the help of a personal branding expert or career coach. Many candidates have great ideas for thought leadership content, but need expert guidance before creating and publishing this content. Even if you are a great writer, it’s always helpful to have someone else look over your work, recommend edits and even contribute additional ideas.

New Channels Will Upgrade Your Online Portfolio
Most executives know that they need to have an up-to-date and effective resume, LinkedIn profile and executive bio, but what other channels could you add in the New Year? Here are some to consider if you have already updated your basic career documents:

  • LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s open publishing platform that allows all members to publish written content. This platform has already become inundated with content, but there are still opportunities for thoughtfully written posts to stand out. One of your posts could even get chosen as featured content, which would likely expand your LinkedIn network and Pulse followers significantly.
  • SlideShare is an online service, now owned by LinkedIn, which allows you to post videos, PDFs and slide presentations. If you connect your SlideShare account with your LinkedIn account, you’ll also be able to feature this content on your LinkedIn profile.
  • About.me is still mentioned at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) researcher conferences as a good place to have a profile. It shows up high in Google searches and allows executives to link to all of their other online sites and profiles in one place.
  • YouTube is an online video hosting service, now owned by Google. At the executive level, we haven't seen much demand for VideoBios or VideoResumes, but it is well-know that YouTube specifically is a valuable channel for candidates looking to show up higher in Google search results.

Innovative trends are constantly emerging in the career space, but that doesn’t mean you have to join in on all of them to have an effective career management strategy. To learn more about this and other career management topics, subscribe to the Executive Career Insider Newsletter.

BlueSteps members have access to BlueSteps Executive Career Services, which provides them with expert writers and experienced LinkedIn Strategists who are ready to partner with you for your career advancement.


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