Everywhere you look, there’s something to care about.
Opportunities swirl. The day’s news frustrates. Social media feeds distract.
And your work is an asteroid field full of challenges to address.
You’re overwhelmed with things to improve, change, update, fix, or act on because you care about them.
But you can only care about so much.
You start a thing.
You don’t know what it will become. You don’t know if anyone will like it.
You don’t even know if you will like it.
But you start it anyway.
Your big break won’t come until those who can give to you know you exist.
Some people think telling everyone how great they are or bombarding strangers with LinkedIn connection requests is the path to the career of their dreams, but they’re wrong.
While I believe your work is the key to your personal brand, often your work doesn’t get noticed by people outside your own company — which tends to be where the career opportunities you want are to be found.
But there’s a simple thing you can do to build your network, showcase yourself, and become well-known within your industry in six months.
Start interviewing people and share those interviews with the world.
“Because the quickest way to become known within your industry is to shine a spotlight on others who are where you want to be.”
Become the conduit between their expertise and the people who value it.
In doing so, you’ll put yourself at the center of your industry — or a segment of your industry — which is an incredibly valuable place to be.
It will invert the entire process of securing new job opportunities. What you once had to chase, will start to chase you.
Here’s how to do it and what happens when you do:
Step 1: Pick a platform.
The first thing to do is figure out how you want to conduct and share the interviews you do.
If you’re a writer, then a blog is most likely your best bet. If you prefer video, use YouTube or Facebook as your home base. And if audio’s your thing, congrats on your new podcast!
It doesn’t matter which platform you choose, just choose the format you feel most comfortable with and jump in.
Step 2: Identify 50 people you’d like to interview.
Choose people who either have jobs you aspire to get or work for companies you’d like to work for.
They can be more experienced than you, but they don’t necessarily have to be.
“What’s most important is that they do the thing you want to be doing or do it at a place you’d like to do it.”
Before you freak out at the thought of having to conduct 50 interviews — don’t worry, not all those people will say yes.
But it’s a good exercise to choose 50 people up front because it helps you think through exactly what you’re looking for and frames in your own mind what career niche you most want to explore (and pursue).
Step 3: Reach out to your 50 people and offer to interview them.
You can reach out by email, on social media, by phone call, or even by old-school letter — whatever works for you and whatever you think is most likely to get their attention.
When you reach out, explain that you work in the industry (or are trying to break into the industry) and that you’re producing a series of interviews with people in that industry to get their perspective on the business and share their advice for others.
Tell them up front how much time you expect the interview to take (30 minutes is plenty and they can always go longer if they enjoy it) and whatever logistics may be involved.
If you’re doing an in-person interview, offer to go to them and do it at their convenience.
The key to your outreach is to not make the ask about you — don’t tell them you’re looking for a job, or that you want to hit them up for a favor or anything like this.
This isn’t an “informational interview,” it’s an actual interview. Congrats, you’re now a journalist — think like one.
Explain that you’re doing this project for the good of the community and because you’re genuinely interested in the industry and their expertise.
“You’re not asking for a favor, you’re offering an opportunity.”
An opportunity for them to share their wisdom, give back to others who are where they once were, and to feel like a big shot for 30 minutes.
Most people are excited to be interviewed and love to feel like a big shot — especially if they rarely get to feel like that in their job.
Step 4: Make the most of the interviews.
When people agree to be interviewed, make the most of it.
Prepare, have specific things you want to learn from them, ask good questions, and point the interview towards what you (and others in your industry) would want to know from them.
Be professional, appreciative, and friendly.
“Don’t hit them up for a job or get into specifics about your own career trajectory — that’s not the purpose of the interview.”
The goal of your interview is to learn, get valuable information you can share with others, and make a strong first impression with a person who may be able to help you down the line.
Step 5: Publish the interviews. Consistently.
Once you start doing the interviews, the next step is to publish them on your blog, podcast, or video platform.
A key here is to do this on a consistent basis. If you publish a weekly interview (which is ideal), make sure you put out a new interview each week.
This may mean you have to bank a bunch of interviews in advance before you start releasing them so you don’t get stuck with nothing to put out due to scheduling.
Consistency is important because you want your audience to develop a habit of consuming your interviews.
“It also sends a message to the people you interviewed and your audience that you’re somebody who can stick to a schedule and deliver on things you promise.”
It’s a chance to establish and demonstrate your work ethic to an audience of people in your industry who may hold your future opportunities in their hands.
Step 6: Promote the interviews.
Once you release the interviews, promote them to the people you’ve interviewed and other people in your industry who are likely to enjoy them.
When you publish a person’s interview, reach back out to them with a link to it, thank them again for taking the time, and make it easy for them to share it with their friends and peers by giving them links or telling them where to send people to subscribe.
Follow up with them again to share any great feedback you get on their interview which they may not have seen.
They’ll love to see comments from people who liked the video, or hear about emails you got from somebody who appreciated what they had to say.
“Don’t assume your interview subjects will see the positive feedback— bring it to their attention.”
Beyond the people you interviewed, look for ways to increase awareness among others in your industry. Share it in relevant Facebook groups or other communities where those people gather.
Because what you’re doing is specific to their industry, they will likely be interested— it shouldn’t be a hard sell. And because your interviews are genuinely helpful and more about the person you interviewed than yourself, you shouldn’t feel insecure about promoting them.
“You’re not asking people to do something for you — you’re providing them a valuable opportunity to learn from others in their industry.”
They’ll thank you for it.
And if you’re still uncomfortable with promoting your interviews, go learn how to get over your fear of self-promotion.
Step 7: Repeat for six months.
Remember how I said consistency matters? Well, it does.
Keep doing interviews with more people and putting them out on a consistent basis for six months.
Step 8: The magic happens.
If you publish a weekly interview with people in your industry for six months, a bunch of amazing things will happen.
First, you’ll learn a TON.
That alone may be enough to get you where you want to go in your career.
Second, you’ll build a powerful network of people who can expose you to opportunities you otherwise may not know exist.
Your actions and the process of connecting with all these people who are doing what you want to do will expose you to things you likely wouldn’t see on a job board.
Third, you’ll hit it off with people you interview and that will create opportunities.
Maybe somebody becomes your mentor, maybe they become your boss.
Fourth, you may discover the career path you thought you wanted isn’t actually what you want and that’s SUPER valuable.
If you talk to 20+ people who currently do your dream job, you get a real sense of what that job’s about — and you may realize it’s not for you. That can save you a lot of heartache in the long run and encourage you to pivot your goals.
Fifth, you’ll discover you’ve built an audience of people who now chase you instead of the other way around.
You’ll become known as a person connected to all these industry leaders and that gives you power, influence, and opportunity.
Sixth, you won’t regret it.
No matter what happens, there is a 0% chance you will regret the time and effort you put into doing this. I guarantee it.
So, what are you waiting for?
Somebody is going to become the center of your industry, why not you?
BONUS: One more easy way to get better career opportunities…
One of the best ways to grow your career is to broaden your expertise and deepen your knowledge about how the world works.
And I’ve got a secret weapon for you when it comes to doing that — my For The Interested newsletter.
Every Sunday I share 10 ideas (similar to the one you just read in this post) about how to get better at your life, work, and art.
It’s like a cheat sheet to grow your career.
“Only then, when you can argue better against yourself than others can, have you done the work to hold an opinion. That is the time you can say, ‘Hey, I can hold this view, because I can’t find anyone else who can argue better against my view.’”
“Creative people naturally produce false-positives. Ideas that they think are good but aren’t. Ideas that other people have already had. Mediocre ideas that contain buried within them the seeds of much better ideas.”
“Whether we realize it or not, we define ourselves through stories. Understanding your own story is the key to understanding yourself, your world, and your capacity to act within that world.”
I’m not an Instagram expert.
I’ve done some experimenting with my For The Interested Instagram accountin the past few weeks and it’s led me to suggest you try out a strategy the Insta-experts will consider to be blasphemy.
It’s complicated, so get ready to concentrate. Ready? Here goes…
“Stop. Using. Hashtags.”
Ok, maybe it’s not THAT complicated.
But it’s the opposite of what every Instaguru out there tells you to do to grow or improve your account.
And they’re right. If you paste 20 hashtags into each of your posts, you will get more likes and followers.
You’ll feel good about yourself and your progress.
You’ll declare your social media strategy a success!
And then you’ll get nothing out of it.
Because there’s a catch.
The majority of the likes and follows you get from those magic hashtags fall into one of two categories:
- They’re real likes from fake people. (See: people who don’t actually exist, aka bots.)
- They’re fake likes from real people. (See: people who only like and follow in the hope you’ll return the favor.)
“Your hashtag-driven engagement is hollow —it’s not based on a true appreciation of your Clarendon-filtered work of art.”
But it’s not just that your hashtags lead to meaningless likes — they also may be trick you into thinking your content is actually good!
When you stop using hashtags, you’re left with only one way to improve your Instagram traction — you have to actually produce great content.
Because without the “magic” of hashtags, your content has to actually earn its engagement.
This can be a rough reality check at first, but ultimately gives you a true sense of whether your content is good, whether it’s improving, and whether you’re building an audience that cares about what you do.
Weaning yourself off the hashtag teat may be scary, but it will push you to improve your content.
I stopped using hashtags a couple months ago and while my account hasn’t taken off overnight, it has experienced steady growth, adding a couple hundred followers during that time.
That couple hundred followers may not seem like much — and it’s certainly not an overnight success story — but it’s real.
And that gives me a significant advantage compared to the misleading data I received back in the hashtag days.
I know these new followers are (for the most part) real.
I know they pay attention.
And I know my content is good enough to drive continued growth of my account.
All of that is more valuable than anything I ever got from a hashtag.
I’ve got one more thing for you (unless you’re a bot)…
If you dug this idea and would like me to send you more ideas about how to get the most out of social media and life in general, check out my For The Interested newsletter.
“Marketing means making it easy for people to notice you, relate to you, remember you, and tell their friends about you.”
“We find ourselves working under a false definition of community — accepting any connection, any conversation, any link as qualification — and we end up with something that looks like a mob or a mass: singular, thin, and gross.”