Hiring managers are always on the hunt for candidates who show leadership potential. But this leads to a difficult challenge for most job candidates: how do you practice and grow your leadership skills if you can’t get a leadership job without leadership experience?
The traditional approach to building your reputation for leadership around the office starts with taking initiative, such as starting book clubs and volunteering for different office-wide projects. But the growth of online communities has also opened up a world of leadership opportunities on the Internet. If you’re looking for creative ways to establish your qualifications as a leader, see if one of these four ideas would be a good fit for what you want to do:
Start a blog
A career as a professional blogger might not be the right fit for you, but that’s no reason to keep yourself from writing your thoughts out and sharing them online with a simple, free website from WordPress or Blogger.
Use your blog to share your ideas about developments in your industry, keep track of the skills you’re learning, or record your progress on projects or educational opportunities you’re taking. As you write, you can also learn more about which topics resonate with your personal network and your readers to truly show leadership.
Not only does starting a blog show initiative, but the act of reflecting on your career and sharing what you’ve learned also positions you as someone who is thoughtful and helpful — two important characteristics of a strong leader.
Start a Meetup
Depending on where you live and your industry, an in-person Meetup group might be a good way to bring together like-minded people and lead discussions, events or collaborations. If you want to invest in your idea you can use the website Meetup, If not, you can use a free networking website such as Facebook or Craigslist to share your idea.
(Of course, we know you’ll use discretion when planning events in which you meet people from the Internet in real life such as meeting in a public place and not disclosing personal information.)
How does this relate to your leadership skills? The ability to recruit people to be a part of your idea and to follow through with the events and meetings you plan are great indications of your knack for motivating people and developing strong relationships.
Start a YouTube Channel or LinkedIn Group
Speaking of free social media tools, YouTube and LinkedIn Groups are great opportunities to define your idea, recruit followers and start conversations.
If you’re particularly charismatic, you might enjoy recording blog post-type thoughts on YouTube, sharing your experiences and advice for anyone who might visit the site. If you’re a little camera shy you can start the same conversation using LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Publishing and Twitter are also opportunities for putting your ideas into the world and getting feedback.
No matter which kind of social media you use, you’re being proactive about connecting people and ideas, and you’re taking a stand for how you see the world and your industry.
Get involved within your industry
Hopefully you’re catching on to an important theme here: being a leader means taking initiative and improving your communication skills. Any website, platform or service you use to practice these skills can be leveraged to develop leadership if you take the time to learn how to engage with others and build an audience.
As there are millions of websites in the world, it’s up to you to be aware of the websites within your industry that will suit your talents and use them to build your skills. For example, a high-ranking Reddit rank might not help you unless you’re applying for a job at Reddit, but plenty of other industries have niche websites where you can show off your leadership ability online.
Have you used the Internet to start an industry-related group or source of information? Let us know in the comments below!