Friday, January 14, 2011

The networked communicator: Have you curated your own best work?

(Editor's note: We'll be talking about these types of creative uses for your online profiles at The Networked Communicator Lunch-and-Learn coming up on February 18 at the National Press Club. Come lunch, learn about better uses for your online profiles, and network in real life with fellow communicators. You get a discount on registration if you subscribe to For Communications Directors newsletters--subscribers also saw this article first.)

By now, I hope you've rethought your online profiles and expanded your online presence. In the new year, there's a new step you can take by curating your best work and presenting it online, using all the new profile options to advantage. So many of our online profiles and resumes are focused on showing who we are and what we do now.  I'm suggesting that we want to see more of you, the multipicity that is your career so far.

Why get so creative with my profile?

Four words:  So you stand out.

Everyone else has gotten great at cut-and-paste keywords. LinkedIn scanned user profiles and found that the words "extensive experience," "innovative," and "motivated" were the most-used (or over-used, as the case may be).  They say that hiring managers will see those words as "empty."

And companies sometimes go that route as well. Danny Brown's post "Are you making yourself attractive enough?" goes after company job postings and their hifalutin language, but it could apply just as well to your resume or online profile. If all we see is your "extensive experience" and that you're "innovative and motivated," we won't really know what you can contribute or which niche you can fill.

What's my best work?

Your "best work" might include work from all the parts of your career, examples that both show where you've been and whom you've reached, as well as those that let us see your most elegant writing, your big and small-but-useful ideas and your deftness with a variety of media. If you were in the right place at the right time (more than once, or just once), those examples might go in the grouping.  So give us that early and staggeringly smart essay, the photo that takes my breath away, the funny video--especially if you now write plainsong prose, do stock photography or only record presentations. Likewise, don't be afraid to show me your plain but essential competencies. If you're known as a stickler for proofreading or a whiz with solving design problems, find an example and explain what you did with it.

You might need help with this curation project, because that is, after all, what you're doing--but for yourself.  It's a wonderful question to ask close friends and colleagues from all parts of your past and present, as well as your biggest fans and followers:  Tell me a piece of my work you admire or like and why. You might mention it needn't be flashy or famous, just significant in their eyes. Ask your blog readers what their favorite posts are, and stand back. I'll bet you hear things that surprise you, and that are must-includes in this collection. Let them know you're trying to curate your best work, large and small, and see what they share. Those recommendations also can turn into content for your curated profile; take a look at how I've pulled together Facebook comments, tweets, emails and LinkedIn recommendations about my public-speaking training and blog here.

Then what?

When you have that list of rarities, bootleg versions and old masters pulled together, find a creative way to get it into your online profiles. Do you need to compile a slideshow with captions or audio narration? Make a video, surrounded by your non-digitized samples of yore or get interviewed by a pal about them?  Let yourself get creative (again, a friend can be a big help here) and you'll enrich your profiles--and our sense of you. And that can only help you in networking, building relationships and audiences, and gaining fans.

Related posts:  What a curator did with Tim Burton's collected works (a good example of letting someone else help you see your collection)

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