It is quickly becoming conventional wisdom for professionals to realize the importance of establishing and maintaining a robust and communicative online profile. As has become the case with searching for knowledge of all manner and type, most individuals go first to the Internet – and of those, approximately 85%, go to Google to get the information they need. It’s no different for recruiters, hiring managers, potential employers or contractors, and other stakeholders who need to carefully examine the history, qualifications, and relevant attributes of alleged talent with whom there is potential to forge a professional relationship.
Whether we want to or not, our cyber presence is being developed. Even those who deliberately shy away from social media networking may still have a bio posted on their company’s web site or could be listed on an association’s site as having given a talk at a conference. Maybe you or your company have been reviewed on one of many consumer review sites or someone’s cell phone snapped you at a social event which is now on YouTube. To think your name and reputation can or should remain hidden from the web in this day and age is naÃ¯ve and potentially harmful to your career.
Getting out in front of how your character is to be perceived by the world will give you the advantage of crafting and determining the message and image that accurately and powerfully presents you to those who may offer opportunities, which could result in career enhancement. Although you may not be able to control all of the content about you that gets caught in the web, there are some steps that can be taken that will anchor your message of core professionalism that can optimize ahead of any weak or worse material that may be out there. The target outcome is simple – to have an online profile that displays your value and talent.
The place to start, however, is with a document that may never make it to the Internet and that is your resume. If this is well written it should be economically and succinctly capturing your value proposition with supporting competencies, achievements, skills both hard and soft, education and training, and any other information highlighting your qualifications. With this foundation in place the professional is ready to communicate a self-appraisal with a variety of online means. Here are four recommended ways in order to accomplish this:
1. LinkedIn – With 85+ million users and growing this is the strongest place to establish your presence. The profile components are designed to give you a well rounded professional look and it is easily updateable. You control the message entirely and it should mirror the value as described in your resume. There is the added advantage of linking to a wide network of colleagues, associates, and groups that increase your exposure and intellectual capital.
2. Twitter – This microblogging service is a great way to build your reputation through sharing relatively frequent commentary on industry insights and promotion of web-based content. It’s simple to use and once you learn about the # and @ communities you can target your messages to people who care about what you have to offer.
3. Your Own Web Site – Controlling your image in a positive and creative way can be done by having your own site designed by yourself or by one of the gazillion boutique webmasters that are around. Here you can write a profile; add pictures; link to other relevant sites or blogs; post a video of yourself talking about what you do, which can be recorded using your webcam or by a friend with a digital camera; include an audio podcast, and post your own blog.
4. Blogging – A wonderful self-promotion technique is to share your professional expertise. Doing so projects knowledge, experience, confidence, and legitimacy. Including your blog as part of your web site by using a sophisticated blogging tool such as WordPress eases the process. Blogging takes commitment, though. Keep posts often and current to get the most impact.
Taking these four steps will position you well for managing your online profile. Remember that your value proposition is the theme that ties all of these tactics together. Be consistent in communicating what great things you offer and be prepared for the career benefits this effort will yield.
William W. Ryan is a Concord, New Hampshire based career consultant specializing in customized career coaching, resume and cover letter writing, and personality assessments.
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