How To Build Your Professional Reputation

By Ritika Puri | November 30, 2011 AAA



No matter what your industry is, you should always strive to achieve an expert-status. With so much competition in the market for labor and skills, you need to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd as the go-to person in your field. The first steps in this process are: Learning high-demand skills and building a network. Eventually, as you continue to do good work, your reputation will strengthen.

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As you are building your credibility, you can give yourself an extra push by sharing your expertise and providing direction to like-minded professionals. Even if you're still in the beginning phases of your career, it's never too early to become a leader in what you do.

In many situations, professionals teach through seminars, community college courses and university programs, but unfortunately, many of those programs have strict barriers to entry. You may not be eligible to teach; for instance, because you don't have a Ph.D. If you have a demanding full-time job, you may not be able to accommodate a rigorous teaching schedule.

Right now, we live in an age where technology helps people find creative ways to access knowledge. More so than ever, a range of resources are available for extracurricular skill-building. Through video, audio and written content streams, we have a range of options for communicating online. Here are six resources that can help you become a teacher in any subject:

Blogs
Online publishers are decentralizing the media world. In less than 10 minutes, anyone can launch an industry-focused blog to share valuable concepts and ideas. You can blog as much as you want, and as an added networking dimension, you could start contributing to blogs that already have an established reader-base. With a blog, your goal is to reach and recruit readers in your field. (For more, read 6 Ways To Make Money With Your Blog.)

YouTube
Instructional videos are powerful teaching tools because learners can see – literally – how to do something. Believe it or not, YouTube is becoming a useful tool for people who are trying to acquire new skills. Even college professors will share lectures publicly. If you're a professional, you can create study-aids for YouTube as well. As an added dimension, you could embed contextual advertising to transform your classes into revenue-generating tools.

Udemy
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Udemy is a platform that lets people take and create web-based classes in any subject. Anyone can teach a class, and it is even possible to charge a fee if you'd like to create a revenue stream. Right now, there are a range of classes available as examples. For instance, MIT Professor John Guttag teaches a free Intro to Computer Science and Programming class that includes multiple problem sets for practice. Other course areas include health & fitness, performing arts, business, technology, software and programming.

Webinar Tools
As a way to build your brand, you may want to host a webinar to teach skills, share findings or connect with prospective clients. Tools like AnyMeeting make webinar software available for free, so that anyone can host a meeting or broadcast a talk. To build new connections, you could promote your webinar through LinkedIn discussion groups, or you could reach out to industry-specific bloggers with established audiences. You could even charge admission to your webinar if you are looking to generate some money.

Peer to Peer University (P2PU)
Backed by Mozilla, P2PU's School of Webcraft features open source classes in a number of technical subjects. The resource exists as an alternative to expensive and out-of-reach develop certifications. Anyone and everyone can design, propose, host and complete classes for free. (For an additional reading on "peer to peer" in the context of finance, check out Peer-To-Peer Lending Breaks Down Financial Borders.)


Open Source Classes
There are a number of instructors who release web-based classes in an open source format. In other words, people can make classes and reading materials available at no cost. For instance, Dr. Mehran Sahami at Stanford University teaches a free and open source introduction to computer science and programming methodology class that is available to the public for free.

The Bottom Line
Beyond building your credibility and professional network, teaching can help you become a stronger manager, mentor and communicator. It doesn't matter what your educational background is, if you have something to share, there are a variety of resources that can help you reach new audiences.

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