Monday, April 9, 2012

Association Professionals: Build an audience before you need it

While this headline is a mantra for associations and nonprofits, it also applies to association professionals and our careers.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had calls or emails from five friends/colleagues who are out of work.

My overall question to all is: Why wait until you are out of work to build your audience?

Today’s social media platforms allow you to network globally, to become a thought leader and to keep your knowledge/skills fresh.
Check out this analysis of the latest jobs report. It comes from Chris Kuehl of Armada Corporate Intelligence:
  • One of the reasons that there was less hiring than was expected is that many companies are hiring people who already have a job. This may be the greatest challenge for the long term unemployed. The businesses that are expanding need people who are ready to step in and contribute immediately. They have been overworking their current employees for months and they do not want to add some additional issues for their staff to deal with. There is very little interest in people who lack the skills needed and have been out of the workforce for two or three years. The preference is to lure somebody from another company with some additional pay and benefits and if one looks at the improvement in wages in the last month it is evident that this is happening. The net impact is that companies are indeed hiring but they are not making a dent in the ranks of the unemployed. One of two things will happen with those companies that have been poached. The stronger of them will do some poaching of their own and will lure workers from their rivals but the weaker ones will have to turn to the workers who are slightly less desirable. These will be the ones that will require more training or which have lost some of their work skills while unemployed. This will not be good news for the smaller companies as they will have to invest time in getting these people up to speed but it will be these hires that will start to improve job numbers again. If there is an uptick in job gains in the months ahead it will be largely due to this reaction by the companies that were getting poached in March and April.
So, how do you keep your skills fresh and your name in the forefront if you are out of work?
  1. Be a resource on what is happening in your profession or industry.
  2. Blog: write comments about current issues and market your blog to people within your profession or industry.
  3. Send links: Find stories on key industry/profession topics and share them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Better yet: write a blog summarizing the articles and share your blog via various social media platforms.
Here is a "Gift of Time" presentation I gave to the Businesspeople Between Jobs organization a year ago. The message is the same: be a thought leader in your profession.

And, don’t wait to do this until you are out-of-work. Use some of your personal time to work on your “thought leadership” campaign. And, do it with your personal brand.

One thing Chuck Rumbarger told me back in the early 1990s:
  • Remember it is their organization not your’s. But, it is your career not their’s.

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