cleaned up your online profiles, it’s time to really build your online brand. First, let’s talk about what it means to have an “online brand.”
Your online brand is how others perceive you online – it’s the culmination of all of your social media profiles and online activities. Collectively, this presence should create a picture of who you are, your expertise and your available skills. It is your reputation, and one way to help you find a job.
Here are three steps to build your online brand:
Before you can build your own online brand, you need to see how others are using the online space to capture their professional life and showcase their experiences. You might start by Googling a professor or other professional in your field. Do they have a LinkedIn profile? Do they use Twitter? Do they have a professional or personal Facebook page? What about a personal website or a blog?
Once you know the types of sites being used, you can further your research by looking closer at their profiles, websites and blogs. Look at the type of information being shared, the LinkedIn groups joined and conversations being held there, and the way each person presents themselves on all of these sites. When you look at all of this information together, what impression does it make on you about the person?
While you’re at it … Google your own name and see what comes up. Do the search results portray what you’d hope for about your own brand?
Rather than just creating profiles on all of the social media sites, develop a plan. Choose which sites you want to focus on to build your brand. Just because you can create a profile on all of the sites doesn’t mean that you should. You want to create profiles in places where you will be active and where you can best showcase your abilities.
For example, Twitter is a great place to catch late-breaking news in your industry or read funny quips by professionals about their day. However, if you do not plan to engage people in this space, and just lurk, Twitter may not be the right place to begin building your brand. But if you do want to engage on Twitter, look for representatives from companies where you would like to work. Many have at least a corporate account that you can follow and engage with, some even have entire teams waiting to network with you – like Sodexo’s recruiters.
My personal recommendation is to start with LinkedIn and then grow your presence from there. Through LinkedIn you can even add examples of your work with file attachments to presentations, for example, and by listing detailed information about specific projects and volunteer work. Still, depending on your career field (i.e. if you’re a graphic artist or web designer), building your own web site can be helpful, too, if you want to showcase examples of your work.
3) Get Active.
Now the fun begins! Once you decide where to build your online persona, get active. For each site where you build a profile, search for connections in your industry. You might start with a professor and then request introductions to others on his or her list. Look for professionals in your community – including friends of your parents, former bosses, professional/campus organization members and community leaders who you may have volunteered with over the summer.
If you join LinkedIn, look for groups that discuss topics in your career field. LinkedIn groups are a fabulous way to meet other professionals, share your own expertise and potentially learn about job openings before they’re posted on job boards.
Also, while it was mentioned in my post about cleaning up your social profiles, it bears mentioning again: Fully complete your online profiles – especially on LinkedIn. If you are going to use social media to help build your personal brand and search for career opportunities, you need to have all of the information available to recruiters and others who may be interested in hiring you. So, fill in all of your information, add job descriptions and projects, and seek recommendations from current/former colleagues, professors, professional advisors and the like.
Your online brand may take a little while to build – it certainly won’t happen over one weekend of completing your profiles and adding professional-looking head shot photos. However, with time and patience, and a diligence for building active relationships with those whom you connect, you’ll find that your online brand will actually begin to work for you – even when you’re away from the computer. Good luck!