Yes, you need it no matter how secure you think your job is.

A career content strategy offers a way to strengthen your position and personal brand

Have you ever been fired or laid off? Do you aspire to a role that still seems a distance away? A career content strategy offers a way to strengthen your position and personal brand. Using content marketing as a personal branding strategy, you can meet influential people in your field, prove your intellectual mettle to colleagues and develop yourself as a key player in a particular niche.

In fact, I believe a self-focused content strategy can make the difference between a fine-but-unexceptional “B” career path, and fast-paced, self-directed “A+” journey.

Envision (and behave like) your future self.

A career content strategy begins with goal setting (no different than in business). Once you have long-term and short-term goals defined, consider the types of content that will support your goals. For example, if your goal is to be a CEO, what are the short-term stepping stones to brand you as a future CEO? I suggest you behave as a CEO today through your content strategy.

Identify the topics in your industry that people care about and develop your content plan around them. If you don’t have a thought-leadership blog, create one. Even if you only blog two or three times per month (because you’re busy), it’s more important that you create quality content, rather than quantity.

Commit to two content assets.

Sticking with the “I want to be a CEO” example, identify the qualifications of the CEO you aspire to become and commit to two content assets that can help you hone those skills. It’s well known that blogging is a powerful content asset, but you should choose one additional publishing tactic to diversify your digital brand. For example, you may seek out speaking engagements or guest article contributions (such as this one). Consider writing a book or e-book. Don’t focus on monetary gain, rather focus on personal branding through your content. You may even consider a dedicated website (yourname.com) or a newsletter such as Paul Dunay’s Buzz Marketing for Technology to aggregate and leverage your portfolio of content.

Identify risks and rewards.

There are risks to your career content strategy. Your content must be unique, otherwise you won’t stand out. Your content must be consistent, otherwise you won’t get noticed. You may encounter criticism from industry colleagues. Criticism may not be all bad, depending on how you handle it. Be respectful, genuine and engaging in criticism. Criticism can provide an opportunity to engage in a more visible conversation around a topic, which can fuel your personal brand–as long as you handle it gracefully.

Build your network.

I’m amazed by how many professionals overlook the importance of building a strong network. It’s proven that having a strong online network even when you don’t need it is far more effective than building your online network when you need it. A strong online network can support you in your content strategy by spreading your content and engaging with a wider audience. LinkedIn in particular–with its status-update feed that includes embedded links–offers the chance to promote your ideas among your network and share other relevant content.

Offline content plays a role.

So far, this article has focused mostly on creating an online (digital) content strategy in your career journey. Your offline content is also very important – and too often overlooked. The content you deliver through internal and external presentations, your email communication, how you conduct meetings, how you follow up with people, how you manage people and even how you criticize people are all part of your content. Yes, I’m referring to reputation management. The key is congruency. Your published content must be congruent with your offline content in order to be perceived as authentic and trustworthy.

A content plan benefits your career.

The benefits to having a content plan in your career journey should be obvious. Unless you’re planning your retirement party next week your content is a form of currency in your career journey and should be managed with the same diligence you use to manage your money. At a minimum it requires consideration. In the best case, it calls for a committed plan that brands you so effectively that doors open that would not have otherwise opened were it not for your content strategy.

No excuses.

We live in a hypercompetitive world. No job is secure. I hope you believe that. Overlooking the strategic importance of a content plan in your career journey is very risky in the long run. It requires commitment, dedication and passion. So what’s holding you back?

I already work 14 hours per day. How do I make time for a content strategy?

I’ve studied the mindset of triathletes to gain insight into how they do what they do. The average triathlete is 34 years. And, 75 percent of triathletes are amateurs. In other words, most triathletes have normal lives with jobs and family duties. So, how do triathletes train to compete in triathlon events? You won’t like the answer. Most commit to grueling schedules that have them waking up a 4 a.m. to run, bike or swim before going to work. Most devote substantial time on the weekends to training. And, most hang out with other triathletes for inspiration and tips. If amateur triathletes can train for grueling competitive events, you can make the time for your content strategy. It requires a mindset and commitment that stretch us outside our comfort zone.