The importance of a ‘body of work’ in building your professional reputation
If I Googled your name, what would I find?
G’day, my name is Trevor Young and this is my newsletter about positioning ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities that come with being an active participant in today’s ‘Reputation Economy’. You can subscribe by clicking on this button:
There’s a saying that your (personal) brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.
That being the case, if I Googled your name, what would I find? Two things to consider here:
Would your name come up early in the search engine results?
And if it did, would whatever the search engine results pointed to do the professional ‘you’ justice?
We’re heading down a path that, professionally, if you can’t be found online, you won’t ‘exist’.
Let’s face it, more often than not we check out someone online before meeting them for the first time, or engaging them for a commercial assignment, or potentially partnering with them on a project or venture.
If you’re a leader or subject matter expert, journalists, bloggers and podcasters will also check you out before requesting an interview, or asking you for a quote for an article they’re writing. Would you ‘cut the mustard’ and get the interview?
It’s critical that our credentials stack up well if anyone goes digging for professional purposes.
After all, we do business with people that we know, like and trust. Some quick research online will often give us an intuitive feeling one way or the other about someone, providing of course we can find what we’re looking for!
Thus, it’s becoming imperative to be easily found online; indeed it’s a must in some quarters, especially if you’re a startup entrepreneur, a subject matter expert, a solo professional (consultant, coach, speaker) or a senior (or on-the-way-up) executive in a larger organisation.
LET ME BE BLUNT: Why would you want to make it hard for people - potential clients, employees, journalists, podcasters, partners and collaborators - to not only find you online, but also be able to get a better handle as to what you’re all about?
Body of work
Taking things up a notch: More than being found, increasingly having an visible ‘body of work’ that demonstrates your skills in, and enthusiasm for, a particular niche or area of expertise counts for a lot, especially if the person wanting to do business with you is also sounding out other potential suitors.
Ditto for the journalist on the trail for an interview subject, or a conference organiser looking for a keynote speaker to present at their next event, or a publisher sniffing around for some up-and-coming author talent.
This is where you can start influencing people’s perception of you in a real and meaningful way, to build your professional reputation and trust in your personal brand.
What do I mean by a ‘body of work’?
To me, your body of work is basically, everything you publish online, in aggregate.
As best-selling author David Meerman Scott likes to say: “You are what you publish”.
THINK: An active blog, podcast, email newsletter or YouTube channel.
Are you on Twitter, and do you participate with enthusiasm and purpose?
Do you have a ‘professional presence’ on Facebook or Instagram?
Do you have any presentations on LinkedIn that demonstrate your knowledge and ideas? Are you publishing a regular newsletter on the same platform?
Have you got any earned media examples to showcase i.e. guest blog posts and opinion pieces in third-party media outlets, podcast interviews etc?
Oh, and while you’re sitting back thinking TikTok is just for kids, there are thought leaders like Mitch Jackson staking their claim on that platform. I’m not saying you need to be on TikTok - far from it - but more so, it’s about thinking expansively about how you can put your best digital foot(print) forward.
Does your LinkedIn profile help or hinder you?
At the very least you should have a solid presence on LinkedIn so you come up in online searches allowing people to check out if you’re really who you say you are from a professional standpoint, and whether you share any common connections with others in the business community.
Ensure your LinkedIn profile page truly encapsulates who you are, your strengths and experiences – include a professional headshot that represents what you’re all about, sharpen your summary so it crackles with purpose and personality, include links to relevant websites and social media channels, and potentially incorporate a PDF presentation or two.
And of course, make sure you publish regularly to the LinkedIn feed (micro-stories up to 3000 characters work well here). Ditto short helpful videos.
Also, make a genuine effort to build up your network of connections on LinkedIn; I don’t mean invite every Tom, Dick or Harry to connect with you simply to bolster your numbers, but rather judiciously build your base of connections steadily and organically, by connecting with people you’ve met at an event, or that you follow online on Twitter, for example.
Join LinkedIn Groups relevant to your business and participate, connecting with fellow group members that you follow and admire.
In other words: Take LinkedIn seriously - be a participant, not a bystander!
Establish your home base
With LinkedIn sorted, the next step is to build a ‘home base’, a content hub as it were, for your thoughts and ideas. A blog is your best bet here, for example a WordPress site that you host on your own domain name (preferably your name, if you can get it). Alternatively, if you’re trying to keep things simple, you might consider a platform such as Medium or Vocal.
Contribute to your blog on a regular basis – at the very least once or twice a month, although to gain momentum you will probably need to post a bit more frequently than that, particularly in the early days e.g. weekly.
Or, a social links aggregator such as Campsite or Linktree - these are particularly useful for people building a decent social presence and who need one place online to aggregate all the links (by way of example, here’s mine - with my own easy-to-remember domain name - trevor.world).
Not sure what to create content about?
What do you want to be known for?
What conversations do you want to start, or be part of?
What issues do you want to ignite debate around?
What ‘spins your wheels’ and gets you excited professionally? Is there a particular topic or issue you’re fired up about?
The great thing with developing a body of work is that you’re not confined to writing simple text posts.
Consider recording videos using your smartphone (then upload the video to YouTube and subsequently embed on your website); perhaps you might like to try recording a Zoom interview with an expert in your space, someone you think others would be interested in listening to (if audio only, upload the audio file to SoundCloud then embed the ‘player’ on your blog, or simply upload video to LinkedIn. Create visual ‘quote tiles’ from the interview and upload to your social media channels.
(Content repurposing provides us with heaps of opportunities to spread ‘digital breadcrumbs’ across our social channels - check out this podcast interview for a deep-dive into the subject).
We have so many options when it comes to creating and publishing content today.
It’s a matter of finding the medium that you’re most comfortable with. And then you have the myriad social channels through which to distribute said content to your personal and professional online networks, and beyond.
Explore, have fun – but most of all, strategically contribute to a body of work that over time builds your profile and reputation beyond your immediate network of friends, colleagues and peers.
"Be patient. Move slow. Play the long game. Trust." - Natasha Che, Founder, Soundwise
Tip of the week
Is it time to rethink Twitter?
I know, I know … some of you may have been on Twitter in the past and wondered what all the fuss was about. Or you got sick of the rants and negativity that permeate some sections of the channel. And so, you bailed.
I hear you, I really do.
If you’re trying to build a professional personal brand, establish a thought leadership positioning in the marketplace … if you want to grow your influence in the industry or profession in which you operate, then chances are that Twitter - if used in a purposeful and strategic way - will deliver a number of benefits.
I put forward my case in this quick video:
Thank you for reading … let’s connect on the socials (links below)!
P.S. If you’ve previously subscribed to my Influence &IMPACT e-letter, please note I’ve replaced it with this Substack newsletter :)