I've had too many recent conversations with colleagues in their 40s and 50s who have suddenly found themselves unemployed and unprepared. Many thought their companies would always look out for them, but corporate fealty died out two recessions ago. Today, the onus is on each of us to promote ourselves. In the words of my Profitecture colleague Paul Doyle, who you know and what you know are no longer enough. You need to decide who knows you and what you are known for.
Building your online profile doesn't have to require significant time or effort. Consistency is more important than volume. Search engines and social networks are wired to reward people who constantly share expertise about very specific topics. Spend 15 to 30 minutes a day on the following tasks and you will see results.
Start a thought leadership blog. It's best if you can own the domain name, but if you have to use Blogger or Tumblr, so be it. What's more important is to contribute at least two entries per week that leverage keywords that you want others to use to find you. Short entries are fine. Few people have time to read long stuff anyway.
Make LinkedIn a daily habit. When was the last time you scrutinized your LinkedIn profile? It should be up-to-date, well-written and tagged with all the right keywords. Once your profile is complete, make it a point to answer two questions in LinkedIn Groups or Answers every day. Contact current and past colleagues and ask them to write recommendations for you, then return the favor. Send a connection request to any current or past contact who might have value to you.
Make sharing instinctive. Did you just read a useful book? Write a short review for your blog and link to the author, who'll probably return the favor. Instead of emailing links to colleagues, post them on a social bookmarking site like Delicious and click the option to tweet your discovery. Make sure your Twitter stream also flows to LinkedIn. Instead of emailing an answer to a common question, post it on your blog where search engines can find it and email the link. Dig out your last half-dozen professional presentations and upload them to SlideShare, then “favorite” presentations by people you want to know.
Make downtime productive. Got a smartphone? Use idle time in the checkout line to retweet a couple of messages from people you'd like to work with or share a recent insight of your own. Call in a comment to a professional podcast you like. Jot down two new topics for your blog. “Like” a customer's Facebook post.
What works for you? Come to BtoBOnline and add your own branding tips.