Today I woke up in a complete stranger’s apartment in Paris.
I’m writing to you from her super-comfy couch; she isn’t home and I have the keys.
Before you get excited thinking that this is a twisted romance story, let me spill the beans – I’m in this town for a week and I rented the flat on AirBnb from a girl I’ve never met (and probably never will).
I must say, this pad is a lot more swish than the one I live in in Sydney. A lot of thought, money and love has gone into it.
The shower is one of those deliciously pleasant “rain from the roof” types, dozens of picture frames infuse the space personality and a Bang & Olufsen sound system fills up the pad with velvety bass.
So what does this have to do with employment & careers?
Well, more than meets the eye.
Let Me Ask You A Provocative Question.
How comfortable do you feel about giving your house keys to a total stranger who you’ve only had a brief exchange with on the Internet?
Five years ago doing so would have been tantamount to complete madness.
Let’s also not forget that ten years ago meeting someone from the Internet for a date was something only weird people did. Today, it’s the accepted norm for busy professionals.
So, what’s changed?
Your Online Personal Brand.
Today, we live in a new world which has radically different rules for cultivating trust, assessing risk and forging relationships.
The phenomenon of AirBnb is a symptom of an emerging sharing economy which gives context to all facets of our life and includes – you guessed it – employment.
In this economy it’s no longer just your couch or car that are available for short-term hire.
The Internet is emerging as a space on which you can leverage your skills while your online personal brand acts a magnet which attracts opportunities. It also provides a measure of security against which stakeholders can evaluate risk.
This trend, combined with increasing job instability, is creating a world in which you will need to – more often – think of yourself as a freelancer or a project-based worker, rather than someone with a full-time job for life.
How To Succeed & Prosper.
If you’re not online, you don’t exist. A strong online and social media presence will be the biggest predictor of successful and fulfilling employment in this emerging world. So, how to ensure that you’re not left behind?
1. Get Clear On Your “Why?”
Your brand must be centered around a cause you care deeply about. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What’s your purpose for coming to work? What impact do you want the lifetime of your work to create? Get clear on those before you utter a word online.
2. Create Valuable Content.
Use a tool like Topsy to learn which topics are popular. Publish, on your own blog and blogs which belong to others, ideas which make a difference that you want to make. Don’t restrict yourself to writing. If you’re comfortable in front of a camera and ooze charisma, start a useful YouTube Channel. If you have a knack for design and presentations, look into SlideShare.
3. Interact With Your Community.
Find people who also believe in what you believe. Then find people who will benefit from your cause. Join them on LinkedIn and Google Plus groups which are aligned with your personal brand. Join Twitter. Dedicate 30 minutes each day to reading, commenting, reposting, retweeting and discussing. No time, I hear you say? Integrate it into your life by leveraging time you’re currently wasting – e.g., buy an iPad and do it while you’re on a bus to work.
4. Consider Hiring a Personal Branding Manager.
A few years ago personal brand management was something only rock stars required. Today, everyone has an online personal brand, and the more senior your role and the higher your aspirations, the more aware you need to be of how yours looks.