professional reputation - networkingPersonal and professional commitments keep even the most organized professionals striving to keep up or do more, often in less time. Demands for our time and attention are nothing new—what is new to many involves proactively managing your reputation in spite of so many demands.

Savvy professionals, particularly those with aggressive plans for their careers, understand that they may need to push themselves a bit harder, sacrifice more and promote themselves to successfully stand out from their peers and secure new opportunities.

The blurring of our personal and professional lives contributes to a heightened sense of busyness and the pressing need to always be “on” or available. Smart phones and other devices enable professionals to always stay connected to work and social media. Many do not proactively set boundaries or fail to share only appropriate personal information with both networks.

Opinions differ about this and you should consider what is best for you and your career. Some argue that you should keep your personal and professional networks separate while others believe you should marry them. Both sides have valid points—one believing that to be truly authentic you can combine your networks and the other recognizing the importance of only sharing business and related information with professional networks.

I am of the opinion that generally they should be kept separate but you should communicate enough information about yourself so others understand a little about you as a person. This could involve letting others know what you value such as which causes you support and other aspects that help them know something about you as an individual.

Every professional should consider their goals and develop plans to support them in the short and long term. One of the biggest mistakes that professionals can make about managing their reputations involves not taking the time to understand options and norms and develop and implement plans to support their likelihood of success.

The following basic steps can help you begin to build a professional reputation that you can be proud of:

  • be able to communicate your unique value proposition;
  • research to understand the most appropriate social media and other channels for communicating with your target audiences;
  • be consistent when setting up profiles including using professional head shots, summaries, tag lines, etc. and
  • add value to your network and focus on growing quality relationships vs. focusing on your number of contacts.

Nothing compares to the value of in person networking.

Every professional should supplement in person networking with connecting online. There are several ways to grow your network. You need to decide which methods you are most comfortable with and which methods more closely position you to achieve your goals. You can:

  • Use your existing network to connect you with others.
  • Volunteer to make connections, contribute and demonstrate your abilities.
  • Join professional associations and attend their meetings and conferences.
  • Contact your alumni association and career services offices.

LinkedIn® continues to dominate the professional networking space with new members literally joining every second. On LinkedIn® you can connect with a wide range of professionals including your classmates, colleagues and executives from numerous organizations worldwide.

You can also make it easy for other professionals, and even recruiters, to find you using keywords and from following them and commenting on the articles they post.

Participating in groups or starting a group can be effective ways to share information while growing your reputation as someone who adds value.

LinkedIn® is a great low cost way to promote your accomplishments and interests and encourage others to connect. You can post articles, comment on articles of other professionals as well as post samples of your work.

professional reputation - networkingYou can also use advanced searches to learn about organizations and identify professionals who are direct connections or bridges to opportunities that interest you.

Your headline and summary section are critical. If you do not believe that you can confidently set up your profile and prepare an appropriate headline and summary, seek assistance because both of these aspects impact your reputation, employ-ability and possible caliber of future connections.

Take advantage of the search power of LinkedIn®.

For example, if you search for “project management” the results will include the profiles of individuals who have “project management” in their headlines, summaries or elsewhere in their profile.

Learn which keywords are commonly used by other professionals and use them to describe your experience as much as possible without being overly redundant.

Keep networking in person and use online resources such as LinkedIn® to help you build a professional reputation you can be proud of.

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