When a professional connection Googles your name, is the online you ready to impress?
What’s the first thing you do when someone piques your interest? Google them. Don’t be embarrassed, we all do it. Your mom, your friends, your Bumble match. And when it comes to your professional career, you better believe employers, recruiters, clients, vendors and colleagues are looking you up, too.
So, what’s your online personality like? What do people think when they “meet” you via the internet? Although you may be more of a face-to-face person, that doesn’t mean you can just disregard your online presence. What you put out there in the internet universe matters. Especially when it comes to your professional career. Think of your online persona as an audition. Perhaps you’re applying for jobs, a business loan, or trying to get that promotion – whatever the case, the online you is on the market. Sell yourself in the best way possible by taking these 5 steps to improving the online you.
1. Determine Your Brand
What kind of reputation do you want to establish within your professional network? What is your ultimate objective behind establishing an online presence? These are two major questions you should be asking before you begin revamping the online you. If you’re trying to uphold a reputation as being an expert in your field, figure out what online platforms you can use to prove to others that you’re the go-to source. It could be a blog you continually update and share within your network.
Or, if finding a job is your goal, have you updated your LinkedIn profile lately? The obvious first step is making sure your experience is up to date, but also make sure you’re thinking about what your summary says about you, updating your skills and requesting recommendations. Those are the tokens that can set you apart from others in the big sea of job applicants. Bottom line is, an outsider should easily be able to tell from your online identity what it is you represent and are trying to achieve professionally.
2. Brush Up Your Image
We are visual creatures, and no matter how much you want to take appearances out of the equation, they can hold even more weight when it comes to judging someone’s character online. Choose profile pictures that accurately present the image you’d like to convey. A headshot that’s been cropped from a picture after a long night out may not give off the best impression of your professional self. Try uploading a professional headshot if you want to put your best foot forward. A picture can say a thousand words, or at least, that you’re capable of maintaining a sense of professionalism and trust in a working environment.
3. Watch Your Social Presence
With so many different social media platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., it can be tough to keep track of what’s private and what’s not. It’s completely acceptable to separate your personal life from your professional life but, keep in mind, your information is public in some form or another once it’s shared on social media.
Revisit your privacy settings and go through them in detail to determine what exactly you want people to see. If your Instagram has your day-to-day outings on blast, set your account to private so that someone has to request you. For your Facebook, if you don’t want people searching you, finding out what events you attended or checking out those college photo albums you completely forgot you uploaded years ago, update your privacy settings accordingly.
You can also make yourself unsearchable on Facebook so that only you have the power to friend others. For Twitter, take note – whatever you tweet is on a public platform that encourages viral engagement. If using it for professional purposes, tweet what’s relevant to your industry and leave the rest out. As far as Snapchat videos and Instagram stories go – be careful what you record. You never know who’s watching or who knows who. Once you start making connections, the world becomes smaller than you think, and the internet has allowed us to form a wide-spread network where your degrees of separation are narrowing by the second.
4. Share Relevant Content
Aside from your actual online info and profile picture, the stuff you share on your online profiles also work to establish your brand persona. Think about the audience you are trying to engage. What can you share that would make them take a mental note about you on a professional level? What would entice them to want to know more about you? Curating and sharing relevant content that builds your professional reputation up in your respective field, matters. The content you post can be interesting reads you deem important, or something you write yourself. Just know that once you put something out there, it’s not yours anymore, but there for your online audience to consume.
5. Invite Communications
If it makes sense for your career goals, make yourself outwardly accessible to potential business partners and employers. You can do this by first, establishing a professional form of communication. For example, create an email address that includes your name and not the name of your favorite band and the year you were born. Then, make the ways to contact you visible on your professional profiles and email signature. By presenting a sense of openness in your communications, it gives off the impression that you’re open to new connections and ready to talk business.
Are you ready to impress with the best online you? It’s a step-by-step process to crafting who you want to be known as on the internet. Every bit of searchable information about you is fair game for judgement. By painting the right reputation with guided intention, you can drive forward career aspirations that will translate from the online realm to reality.