Recently I finished reading a book by Andrea Clarke called Future Fit: How to Stay Relevant and Competitive in the Future of Work.
Although the book was not relevant for me (in the sense that I have for many years now, been building an online profile and networks to help navigate through my different projects, work and career), I read the book out of more curiosity to see if there may be anything that I may have missed.
The book was anecdotal and admittedly, I enjoyed the stories of her life as a journalist and correspondent. I think it would have been an exciting life and one in which I would have loved the opportunity to do when I was younger. I had some exposure to it when I was in the military working for public affairs and having to work with the teams of news reporters who would fly in and fly out of operations, and we would be responsible for making sure they got what they needed.
However, it got me thinking of the two words, “future fit”. In some way, I wish I had thought of it!
I’ve been asked many times in the past by people – people in their 30s-40s who want to make career changes – or parents of 17-18 year olds who are now looking at facing the prospect of finding work or a new career or study – to help them build their digital profile.
I’ve lost count the number of times I have helped friends and family with this and admittedly, I enjoy doing this especially as they realise what you do and what your value is beyond that “crazy aunt”.
Somehow that “crazy aunt” seems to have XYZ followers (I have no idea about these metrics, they seem to know more than me); her own YouTube channel and seems to be asked to travel overseas at conferences. They see all this and ask, “can I have whatever you’re doing because I want to do THAT!”
To some people, seeing the externalities of the online profile is their main outcome but when I tell them that it’s taken YEARS of consistent and persistent effort to show and share my work openly and publicly, it’s met with a quizzical look.
No, it didn’t happen overnight.
When I say to them that sharing your work in public spaces means that you have to be open to criticism, negative feedback and having some of your work or ideas stolen and claimed by others, they look at me agape.
When I say to them that building a trusted profile online means actively engaging and contributing online in conversations as well as sharing OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK, they stare at me in disbelief.
Many people miss the point of what it takes to have an online profile. It’s not something that you build overnight and expect it to return value to you immediately.
Explaining this to people and then helping them build their profile, looking at their strengths and experiences and then looking at ways to tap into networks that will help them achieve their outcomes (mainly, to look for new work) has been an eye opener for me.
It’s made me realise that we all need to be ‘future fit’ right now and if anything, we need to be building our own digital profiles and showing and sharing our work and projects to our networks and online communities.
I do wonder if this is part of the career development program being taught at schools? Helping students to showcase their projects, build a LinkedIn profile, use Twitter to find and tap into people and resources to help them?
If not, then there’s a great opportunity to do this!
In my experience, you know who ‘gets’ the difficulty of building an online profile?
Every time I have presented or helped graduates, school leavers and university students, they seem to ‘get it’.
I would say I’ve had more success with this age group as they understand that it takes persistence to create and build their online profiles. It’s a matter of explaining the ‘why’ to them and then showing them an alternative way to how they were using the social media and the ‘penny drops’. From there, they run with it.
They’re the ones showing ME on what they’ve been doing to build their networks. They’re the ones who are inspiring for me because they see that they’re doing something to commence their career and they’re LOVING IT. They’re not questioning it or asking me to build their profile for them, tweet on their behalf or get exasperated if they need to respond to someone’s comment on their social media! 🤣