After you’ve finished with the essentials of creating your personal brand, you should turn to publishing for real leverage in your job search.
What’s this publishing stuff?
I’m not talking about writing a book – that may come later if you’re so inclined. But if you want to be a subject matter expert, you have to display your expertise somewhere, and walking up and down the street with a sandwich board sign ain’t gonna do it.
Your first writing exercise should be comments on blogs and answers on LinkedIn. Pick out things you really know about, and add value to the readers of these publications/websites. You should keep doing this throughout your job search, and beyond.
When you’re ready, start a blog. There are many free blogging services. I use WordPress – it’s the most popular blogging platform, and it’s available as a hosted service (e.g. yourblog.wordpress.com) or as something you host on the service of your choice. I chose the latter, and host it on the same server that hosts my website. If you want the simplest blogging experience, use posterous – they do all the work except the writing. Just send them emails (even with pictures and multimedia), and each email turns into a blog post.
Why should you be bothered?
Here’s an actual example – I won’t name names, but you’ll immediately see the power blogging can offer. And before you complain about my unfair advantage, please remember that I’m a marketer – I can’t write a single line of code (well, OK, I can write a 4-line BASIC program, maybe). And I’m not a kid who takes to this stuff naturally. In other words, I’m probably just like you.
All right, here’s my example: I’ve written about various products on this blog. I like software – I like to try new software, and I’ve been doing it since Pythagoras was theorizing. Because I’ve used so many software programs – and helped to design some – I have a unique perspective on software, which I think is fascinating. (That’s a joke.)
So, I wrote, and they read. Who? Company CEOs, VPs, Managers, and probably worker-bees I don’t know about.
Tell me again why this is relevant?
Trying to get to a hiring manager? How about going in through the CEO’s office? You can try standing outside the company HQ giving out funny gifts until you meet the right person. Or you can start writing about the company. (Hint, the second method is cheaper and better.)
Try it! Pick out a target company and write about them. Promote your article – more about that in a moment. Then use it as a lever to get inside the company. If nobody from the company reads your post, SEND it to them! PR departments (or Marketing or even Sales) love to get customer testimonials. Everyone is susceptible to this form of flattery!
Now, let’s talk about promoting your writings. First of all, most companies have Google Alerts set up for their company and product names. So when Google indexes a new blog, the company will know that somebody has written about them. Because I do fairly regular blog posts, Google indexes my blog quickly. In fact, my blog now comes up 3rd in my Google returns, just behind LinkedIn and (usually) Naymz.
I’ll write more about promoting your brand and your blog in the future, partly because I’m still learning. You can and should go to sites like Technorati and register your blog there. They’ll give you a little code snippet to put in your blog that will alert them when you do a blog post. If you can’t figure that out, you can sign into Technorati and tell them to “ping” your blog for the latest post. When you set your blog up, make sure you choose the option that informs Google of your blog updates.
That’s mostly automatic. There’s more you can add: when I do a blog post, WordPress automatically creates a Twitter post. Then a Facebook application picks up the Tweet, and somehow it also gets to Friendfeed.
Don’t stop there. Be sure to post the URL of your blog in the “What am I working on now” area of your LinkedIn profile. Add the blogging application to your LinkedIn profile so people who land there can see what you’re writing about. Check my LinkedIn profile if you want to see how it works.
You’ve got to keep this going for a while to see the real benefits. If you’re blogging real content and not just mindless drivel, people will start watching your blog. And let me tell you the subscription business is a wonderful business model. The user base tends to grow geometrically, and unless you screw up or go silent, people will keep coming back.
And – at least from my experience – your Tweets will get people talking about your blog entries – especially if you try to keep your main branding element in the blog titles (for me personal branding). Without too much effort, I’ve gotten more traffic from Twitter than from any source except my friend Jason Alba. And there’s another point – as you develop subject matter expertise, it should (and for most of us will) become second nature to befriend other SMEs. Jason and I have a slightly different slant on things, but deep in our hearts and souls, we are trying to help people get back to work. That’s more than a job, it’s a passion.
Final word: write about your passion. People will know if you’re not.