Creating an online profile to help develop your career

I’ve just added another story to the Portfolio Career Stories page, this time about Katie Barnett who has recently graduated with a PhD from the University of Birmingham. Katie is developing her career by building up a portfolio of work in line with her skills, interests and ambitions.

When reading Katie’s story I was struck by how effectively Katie has used the website about.me to create a personal home page for herself. You can see in an instance her key areas of expertise: Researcher, Writer, Lecturer.

You can read Katie’s “about.me” profile here: http://about.me/katie.barnett and her career story if you click on the Portfolio Career Stories tab on this site.

Seeing Katie’s about.me profile has got me thinking about how we can best create an effective online profile.

Do we choose just one channel for example a LinkedIn profile or an about.me page, or do we need multiple ways to communicate our key messages?

I guess as with all marketing strategies it starts with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and who your target audience is. Whether you go for an organic way of building up a profile as you go along, or whether you have a well-thought out strategy at the outset – one thing is for sure, the opportunity to use online profiles to help develop our careers is big.

Just relying on a CV and traditional ways of seeking out and applying for jobs or building a portfolio and freelance career will without doubt limit your options.

If you’ve got examples to share about how you’ve created an online professional profile and what’s working well, do share your ideas and comments with us.

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The art of making connections

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the focus of my business going forward and my personal brand. To do this I’ve asked the questions “What are the key themes of my work?” and “Where does it add value?”. One of the key themes which emerges is “making connections” and here I’ll share four ways in which I consider making connections to be important:

  • Business Development – Connecting with clients to attract work and projects
  • Collaborative Projects – Connecting with collaborators to win business
  • Community – Connecting to build a network of like-minded “colleagues”
  • Creativity – Connecting themes of my work to create innovative and new ideas

Business Development

Key to a successful business and portfolio career is the ability to attract customers and contracts. If you attract work through word of mouth recommendation and by developing connections then you are in a strong position to grow your business or career. Today we have the benefit of platforms such as LinkedIn which more than ever enable us to build connections, make contacts and network. Blend an online presence with more conventional face-to-face networking and this can serve your business well. To make the most of your business development activity ensure that you are clear about your brand, the value of your service to customers and by building on successes. Ensure you have a clear message and a reason for clients to connect. If you grow your portfolio through recommendation and through making the most of connections then this is likely to be a cost-effective and time efficient route to building your business and portfolio.

Collaborative projects

I’ve recently sent out a couple of proposals in which I am collaborating with others. This has enabled me to to work with others who complement what I offer and to build on strengths. Finding people you can collaborate with requires you to make connections at a number of levels. Similar to business development you spend some time gaining clarity in the first place with regard to potential collaborations. Be clear about what you are looking for and why.  Then network and communicate with others to start the process of connecting and engaging with potential collaborators. Connections are likely to work where you share similar values and ways of working. In more conventional work environments we can’t always choose who we work with; when we work in a more fluid and portfolio way we do have the choice and scope to build effective connections which work for us. So use this to your advantage and the benefit of your business.

Community

Portfolio Career Connections is in essence about connecting with others who are on a similar journey.  Working freelance or having your own business often means that you miss out on the sense of community which you gain from  going to a regular place of work. As more and more people work remotely and in virtual teams I think that it will be increasingly important to build communities based on shared interests. I co-lead a coaching group called “Coaching Connections Midlands” which does just this. Each month we meet to share learning and development and key to the success of the group is the sense of community it gives us. What connects us is an interest in coaching and personal development and it is great to see how the group attracts a variety of members coming together in a supportive environment. Communities succeed where there is a shared connection and sense of purpose.

Creativity 

I mentioned at the start of this blog post that I am currently reflecting on my personal brand and the focus of my business and work going forward. I think that the art of making connections to enable new and creative ways of working is at the heart of what I enjoy doing and a cornerstone of my work. Whether I am working on a large scale project to develop a service or enable change in an organisation or with an individual coaching client who wants to create a new direction for their career, there is a core element of enabling change and making the space for new connections and ways of doing things.

Writing this blog post has helped me to articulate one of the key themes of my work “making connections” and to do some thinking about the potential value to those I work with.

What connections have you made from reading this blog post?

What tips can you share to help us develop the art of making connections?