The decision to try and juggle both a full time career with a growing family, to stay home and focus on raising children, or to skip the parenthood piece all together, is a decision most men never have to make; and one that leaves many moms and women filled with regret regardless of the path they choose. The good news today is, regardless of your decision, your ability to stay connected and continue to grow in your industry as a leader is possible thanks to social media and today’s technology.
I hear many moms lament that they fear falling behind if they leave their jobs to raise their families. The speed of change has us all feeling left behind if we ignore it, even for a month. You might be feeling this today, whether you are staying home with kids or you are still working but have let technology get ahead of you, and you want to either maintain or start now to build your network back up to share your expertise and establish your brand.
Here are 7 things you can do starting today to establish and build BRAND YOU:
1. Decide who BRAND YOU is. What are three words that describe you as a brand? Are you witty, cutting edge, encouraging, sassy, intelligent? These will shape HOW you share information with others. Now, what do you want people to know you for? Are you known for your organizational skills? Perhaps you are known for your project management expertise. What expertise do you have that needs to be magnified? Write these down and keep them close by to help you stay focused.
2. Get that LinkedIn profile in shape. This is not just for job seekers. It is the best networking tool you have and you don’t have to be currently working to use it. Beef up your bio and summary areas. Don’t just fill it with, “manager of purchasing department” or “director of communications.” Do you have experience landing new contracts in your marketing position, or do you have 15 years of sales experience increasing revenues by 28%? Put those words and phrases in your summary. Pack it with information. Use all the space you have.
3. Add media to each section of your LinkedIn profile. If you have a presentation that you are proud of, or you can load a clip from YouTube of you sharing some of your expertise. Take advantage of these features to set yourself apart and help your profile really tell your story. Even while staying home, you can create these media pieces to show case your knowledge. Make a list 5 things you can teach someone else and then either make a presentation about it or a video to share on your profile.
4. Join one or two groups on LinkedIn that are in your industry. Before joining groups, check to see how many members are in them. The larger groups provide you a greater opportunity for networking and building your connections, but check out some of the recent discussions to make sure it isn’t a group filled with people trying to pitch their wares. Don’t join too many groups or you will get overwhelmed with too many email notifications or comments to respond to. Be active. Comment regularly and become a resource to others.
5. Create a Twitter account. Like your LinkedIn profile, be sure and add a great bio that shows both personality and expertise. I keep a list of people I find with fun bios here. Find and follow 20 smart people in your industry. Start with some of the thought leaders you respect, and see who they follow and have conversations with. Before you know it you will be learning from and contributing with these leaders. Twitter will allow you to build and nurture relationships with people you may never have had the opportunity to connect with before.
6. Find and follow industry blogs. Twitter can help you identify many great blogs in your industry, but you can also use tools like Flipboard or Zite on your smartphone and tablets to create beautiful custom magazines to pull blogs in. These apps automatically refresh each time you open them, filling with current news and information to keep you in the know.
7. Maintain a healthy curiosity about new tech tools. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with all of the new apps, and ignoring them, take it on as challenge to learn one or two new tools per month. Play with tools like Google Plus and Google Hangouts, Instagram, Pinterest and HaikuDeck (for easy and brilliant presentations made on your iPad). Don’t be afraid to create accounts and just explore. Invite a friend or family member to join you and make it more fun.
We’d love to hear what other things you are doing to stay in the current of your career. How do you stay plugged in and grow your network whether or not you are working or staying home with your growing family?
Connect with me on any of the social media platforms under Gina Schreck or my blog at SocialKNX.
Editor's Note: I met Gina on Twitter before she spoke at PMI North America last fall. Regardless of whether your a mom, a career woman or a guy, her digital tips are fabulous. With nearly 60,000 Twitter followers she's got to be doing something right!