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June 13, 2013

3 Ways to Use Writing to Boost Your Career

Writing is a simple and powerful way to increase the power of your personal brand, and it amazes me how few people take advantage of it. Perhaps I should not be so amazed. After sampling the opinions of five six-figure executives I found these off the record comments. Perhaps they could be summarized by what one said to me: John, I hate to write and I do as little of it as I can. Whether you work in the executive suite now or are just seeking a position writing and trying to improve your writing skills must be thought of as a critical career enhancing possibility. If you’re in transition or looking, working away at the job your love or seeking your next consulting contract, you can use the written word position yourself as an articulate voice in your field or even, potentially, eventually, an expert in your industry. But the message here is do not short change this very essential and often unappreciated career advancing tactic.  Economies move in and out of so-called growth phase but competition for talent will remain fierce at all levels of your career. Getting on the short list for the best opportunities requires you to really zero in on your unique strengths. I’m going to share with you some strategies for using writing to accomplish that.

Increasing Productivity

Watch the Pulse of Your Industry

The amount of content produced and distributed on the internet increases every day. If you want to write something that stands out and grabs the attention of the right person, you need to familiarize yourself with what’s being said. Given the exponential explosion of new content that has taken place over the last few years, it’s important to learn to scan and skim, taking occasional dips. An RSS reader is a powerful tool that allows you to scan a large number of headlines from multiple publications in one place. If you haven’t learned to use an RSS reader, you can download a number of free ones. Dave Baldwin is a North Carolina writer and author as well as a friend of the business; in his words, If you want to write what nobody’s talking about, you have to pay attention to what everybody’s talking about.

Focus on Relationships, Not Just Content

Think about who could help you succeed in your career if you had that person on your team. What types of professionals or business leaders would you love to have close by? Writing can potentially be a great way to enlist people’s active help. For example, if you are looking to develop a business relationship with an influential player, you could call that person and ask them to be interviewed for an article that you write. You might also offer to write a guest column on the blog of someone who you would like to get to know. Most people are very open to having conversations about the possibility of combining business expertise, which gives you an automatic excuse to pick up the phone and call them.

Plan, Comment and Respond Often

Plan the level and type of of written work that will advance your career. Consult with others before you launch off and start a blog. Do not do this work haphazardly as it can be a hazard to your career. But do work at finding our writing’s place in your career planning. Also remember as you move into this thought process that the Internet can be for you but probably should not be a soapbox; it has become more like a cocktail party. Effective writing can spark a conversation and open the door to an opportunity. Don’t just join in conversations with big players; keep in mind that corporate decision-makers often lurk in conversations, or read what everyone else is saying without actively participating. You can respond via comments on web sites and social media channels, but a particularly powerful way to respond is by writing a follow-up article of your own. This is easiest to do if you have your own blog, but there are plenty of other tools that you can use for article distribution.

Writing is one of the most fundamental skills that separates sought-after professionals from everyday job-seekers and people already trying to build their career within a company. If you want to move to the top of the list and you haven’t been doing much writing lately, consider investing some time writing about your area of expertise. Find small, highly professional ways to contribute to a professional blog. Find a way to add an article to your company’s newsletter. Volunteer to edit and add to group writing project or to author a short article for a volunteer organization you or those who are associated with you support. Writing to writers is a craft. They never arrive. You will never arrive and be a perfect writer but everyone can begin and everyone can improve this critical, career advancing skill set. You just might find your career search activity becoming more productive. You will gain confidence and add a differentiating positive to your career portfolio.

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