People look at your digital footprint to judge your value
"Does he have a blog? How good is his LinkedIn profile? What does he tweet and how big is his following?" These are some of the questions people looking out for experts in a field are likely to ask. HR managers and HR firms in the look out for senior level advisors/ consultants and all levels of employees also are asking these questions more and more.
Some years back, web presence of an expert started to be seen as supplementary information. Now, some HR firms say, they use one's social media profile as first source of information for judging a person's suitability for a job or an assignment.
Being an expert blogger in a field of specialization gets the blogger the tag of authority when he constantly works on it and proves it through the blog and other means (tutorials, ebooks, guestposts, etc).
You could be an expert (and then an authority) on any subject however commonplace or specialized it might be (e.g. as an expert plumber/ chef/ football coach OR an expert on West Asia affairs/ nano-technology).
Being expert is one thing and being SEEN as an expert is another. To be seen and recognized as such, you need to nurture your 'brand'. The tips given below, especially being thorough with the subject and being helpful to others, help greatly in building a strong brand.
Expertise and social media can supplement each other any time in one's professional growth. If you are a newbie, you can use various web platforms to showcase your skills, then grow your reputation, then turn into an expert and finally be seen as an authority and influencer. If you are an established expert, you must get involved with social media. The involvement with social media - at whatever stage - has to be professional (more on it below).
Blogs and social media as secondary proof of authority
Social media, especially your blog, presents your best assets because it shows rather than tell: people actually see your worth than having to believe what you claim on your resume. They see how you think, how much you know, how you behave (your attitude), how you solved someone's specific problem... These make an overall impression about you that goes beyond your expertise, because people wanting in the business of engaging or recruiting people also look for qualities other than expertise.
A properly maintained blog help greatly when one is looking for freelance assignments as well as job opportunities. CareerBuilder, a well-known HR firm, has reported that about 65% recruiters look at web presence of job seekers. As most young people these days communicate a lot online, social media helps recruiters in checking their skills as well as social traits.
Adecco, 'the largest staffing firm in the world', brought out a 'work trends study' in 2015. It found that the use of social media by recruiters for finding and judging candidates is on the rise. Roughly about a third job seekers who accepted interviews had personal and/or professional blogs. "Job seekers with a professional or personal blog have a higher percentage of being contacted online," it said.
FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters company, has found in a recent survey in the US that about 54% adults would hire an attorney who is active on social media platforms such as FB, LinkedIn and Twitter. People of younger age (18 to 44) were found to be more likely to do so.
We have interviewed some bloggers on ITB and they have said on record that blogging helped them in getting recognized in the field and they've been getting new assignments using their blog as their talent showcase.
Tips on being seen as an authority, using blogging and social media
- Concentrate on content. Show your best. If you are an expert service provider, have tutorials, do-it-yourself guides and tips on the blog. If you are an academic or researcher, post great analytical stuff.
- Review and improve old posts. You will realize that as you grow in profession, your ideas as well as expressions mature. If you look at your own 5-year old writings, you might find them lacking something. So, you need to bring such writings to today's level, so that you are judged by today's standards and no less.
- Let people like you for your resources. Quickly build a library of resources. Also link to your own resources elsewhere (e.g. websites of research publications where your papers have been published/ hospital where you work as consultant/ organization in which you are a key functionary) and others' authoritative resources on the web.
- Authority comes from thought, not just listing of resources. This tip might look contrary to the one above but it is not. What we are telling here is that your posts should not just be like glossary or updates but your original creation. (e.g. A legal blog that just lists out latest court decisions might be very popular but it does not show the blogger's expertise; a blog that discusses such decisions comes out as an expert blog.)
- Choose the niche after a lot of thought. Don't fear if you are expert in a very narrow area. We have seen highly successful blogs on narrow themes such as diabetes cure through ayurveda, SQL, MS Excel, mountain uplift, local recipes. In the case of such themes, you have less competition, more chances of quick expertise and sharp focus.
- Care for design. Let it suit your area of expertise. Generally, make it simple. Let it be easy for visitors to find what they want.
- Post regularly. In case of very serious matters, you need not post very frequently; decide the best pace according to your niche and your goal.
- Engage with commenters, especially if you are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also engage outside the blog and mainline social accounts. For example, answer to queries on Quora and be on a professional forum if that is relevant for you. If you are a big blogger, you might not find time for such engagements and might even find such engagement useless, but unless you are that big, don't ignore this aspect.
- Choose the social platform carefully. Check if Linkedin Pulse and Facebook Notes serve you better than other types of webspaces. Or, a website and a blog inside it. Or just a blog on Wordpress or Blogger free platform. Or a standalone blog [on a paid/ premium platform]. You can also think of 'guest posting' on standard web publications. If you are into photography, art and video, why not Instagram or Pinterest?
- Don't be everywhere but nowhere. Don't spread your time and resources thin. Choose 2-3 main platforms. A main blog with 1-2 social network accounts is generally a good combination.
- Be sober, courteous and helpful rather than arrogant, aloof and too critical. Don't show off your expertise but let it be seen and felt.
- Analyze leaders in your area of activity; follow their best practices without copying them.
- Give your contact information and make one page [on the blog] on 'about us'. On Facebook, create a page rather than having just an account, and don't forget to display contact information and other details. Same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium etc.
- Do not put too many advertisements on the blog. They not only clutter the blog, they also make it look unprofessional. If too many, they imply that you are a greedy blogger rather than an expert.
- Get references and endorsements. This comes down in this list because you need others' pat much less when you are a genuine expert than when you are not. If you are a real expert, chances are that you will be quoted, copied, linked to and talked about. However, it helps in early days if you get an endorsement from a leader in your field. For that, whenever you write a great post, mail it to people superior to you, even seek their critique on your writing. Similarly, comment on their posts.
- That takes us to networking. Social media helps greatly in professional networking, especially LinkedIn. Blog helps in networking too, when you exchange thoughts with experts using their and your own blog posts as the playfield.
- Use the strength of keywords to spread word about you. Whether on the standard blog or social networks, you remain unnoticed unless you promote yourself, and [besides great content and networking] keywords are one of the best ways to do that. Give a suitable title to your blog, tag/ label your posts, give your posts relevant headlines, give 'alt tag' and captions to your photos,... so that people looking for great content discover you through references and search engines. However, don't overdo that or you will look cheap and search engines will also dislike you. You might like to visit these useful resources on search engine optimization.
- Most experts have a strong offline presence as they are well-known professors, artists, celebrities, even motor mechanics and plumbers. Even if you are not such an expert, you can leverage the power of social media also for getting to the real world. For example, many expert bloggers are invited to conducted tours/ events and contribute posts to big websites; interviewed by mainline magazines and TV channels; called for public speeches; sent products for pre-release review; offered book proposals; and so on.
Being an authority takes time and energy - lots of these. There are only a few persons that can be called an authority on a subject, so the competition is very high. Yet, achieving it becomes slightly easy if you are a step ahead of others in using the social media. Use that! All the best!!