I never cared about personal branding, online networking, or any of the stuff I’ve been writing about until the last time I was laid off from a cultural resource management archaeology job. There I was, a husband and father without a job staring at a mountain of bills waiting to be paid. I’d already done everything my mentors and advisers told me to do—get a graduate degree, give conference papers, write articles, over-deliver on my CRM archaeology projects— and I still got laid off.
The biggest problem was; I wasn’t the only archaeologist looking for work. There were dozens of other archaeos with more experience than me all trying to get the few open positions. After a few weeks of searching, I realized the biggest difference between the archaeos that were getting jobs and those of us that weren’t was our professional networks and how we presented ourselves as professionals.
I got laid off from a company that was still actively hiring former employees. These were primarily principal investigators (PIs) that knew every archaeologist in Arizona and had been doing the job for decades. They made it look like they knew what they were doing even if their professional persona couldn’t be further than the truth. These men and women were keyed in to the industry. It never took much for them to get a job. When they got fired, they just worked their Rolodex. Past performance was no indicator of future gain, but they knew people in high places and worked their network with great success.
The other thing I learned is it doesn’t take decades to build a robust professional network. In today’s digital world, you’re only a LinkedIn introduction, a Twitter follow, or a blog post away from connecting with some of the biggest hiring managers and companies in cultural resource management. You can create my own introductions and simultaneously show them what you can do in the time it takes to click a mouse on a URL. Not only that, anyone that’s interested in working with you should be able to see dozens of endorsements and recommendations from people that have worked with you in the past, including people they may know personally.
While we can’t always talk shop over a beer with every archaeologist in the world (even though I want to), we can connect with them on social media and exchange thoughts that way.
I wonder: Would the prehistoric chronologies in Arizona would be as atomized as they are today if Haury, Sayles, DiPeso and those other patriarchs had had access to the internet?
Personal Branding can Take as Much or as Little Effort as You Want
This is the final post in the Personal Branding for Archaeologists series. I’ve discussed an array of platforms and techniques you can use to further your own personal branding efforts. Archaeologists are in desperate need of branding ourselves, not only to craft a positive personal image for our profession but also to help us get jobs. You will be building a robust professional network if you take the steps I’ve proscribed in the previous posts.
In case you missed them, here’s what was discussed in the previous posts:
Post I— Some of the reasons why archaeologists might care about personal branding online.
Post II— Using LinkedIn to tell the world who you are and what you’ve done.
Post III— Connecting with like-minded communities via Twitter.
Post IV— The benefits of creating and maintaining your own personal website.
Post V— Building your brand through blogging.
Post VI— Avenues of defining your professional brand using online video-sharing and picture-oriented social media platforms.
Post VII– (The current post) Social media strategies that archaeology job seekers can use to build their network and solidify their personal brand.
I’m also keenly aware that most archaeologists aren’t remotely interested in anything called “branding”. Sales, marketing, and any other form of commercial is swiftly shunned by the archaeological community, which is why we’re so sh*tty at promoting ourselves and our trade.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a social media guru to craft an online branding campaign that will make you stand out from the crowd. There are an infinite number of paths you can take toward branding yourself on the internet. You can embrace social media or keep it streamlined down to a simple website and a robust LinkedIn profile. While I can’t tell you exactly how to build your online identity, I’ve created a great eBook explaining the basics of online branding: “Social Media Strategy for Archaeology Job Seekers”.
Download the free book below:
The book highlights three strategies you can take toward building your brand: the Bare-Bones Basic Strategy, the Archaeology Careerist’s Strategy, and the Archaeology Niche Domination Strategy. Read on and learn more.
The Bare-Bones Basic Strategy—AKA “Set it ‘n Forget it”: This is the easiest online branding strategy you can follow. Just build a personal website that highlights your skills and accomplishments, and connect that to a complete LinkedIn profile. It will take a few hours to create the LI profile and website, but after that all you have to do is try and connect with other archaeologists on LI and pay attention to a couple archaeology LinkedIn groups. You also need to maintain your website.
This shouldn’t take more than a couple hours each month to maintain after you’ve got it up and running. When people Google your name, they’ll see good stuff.
The Archaeology Careerist’s Strategy—AKA “Have trowel, will travel”: This strategy will take a little more work, but has the potential to help you build a robust network that will help keep you employed and your career moving forward. As an Archaeology Careerist, you are actively connecting with other professionals using social media and are using your website and social media platforms to participate in relevant conversations within the industry. If you want to go the extra mile, you can write a blog, vlog, or start a podcast.
The Careerist is using social media to move their career forward. You are creating content, participating in online communities, and helping others solve current problems. In the process, you will be earning the respect and trust of others that have the power to help keep you employed.
The Archaeology Niche Domination Strategy—AKA “I’ll show you an expert”: The goal of this strategy is to use keywords and your expertise to dominate search engine results for a particular aspect of archaeology. I do not mean Domination in the traditional sense of the word. You are not subjugating others, but, rather, using the internet and other media to collaborate with others with respect to a particular niche within archaeology in such a way that your professional brand and this aspect of archaeology become synonymous. Helping others is integral to this plan because they will, hopefully, acknowledge your expertise in their work. You are trying to demonstrate yourself as an expert and are using social media to convey this expertise to the rest of the world.
Not only are you harnessing social media, the Domination Strategy frequently expands beyond the confines of the internet. You will also leverage articles, press releases, news stories and other traditional media platforms to spread the word about your knowledge, skills, and expertise. It is a full media onslaught that is accelerated by social media.
Putting it All Together
There are many ways to build your social media branding campaign. I have included some ideas in the Social Media Strategy for Archaeology Job Seekers eBook. I believe the most important step is the first one; Start managing your online brand today. Build a complete LinkedIn profile. Create a personal website and connect it with your LI profile. After you’ve done that, feel free to master a social media platform and connect it to your LI and website. The sky is the limit from there.
The world is hungry for information. You have the power to fill that hunger by creating content for the world to consume. In the process, you can use the power of keywords to craft a professional brand that can make you world renown. Start today!
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