Building a high-quality online professional presence can be a tall order. Although having a LinkedIn profile is mandatory, it simply is not enough in the digital era. From the overwhelming number of communities to the widespread popularity of social networks, figuring out exactly how and where to advertise your skills online can become exhausting and confusing.
Here’s an easy process to make your mark on the professional web.
Start with the basics
Does your job title on LinkedIn match your job title on Facebook? Do you have old versions of your resume uploaded to multiple job boards? Is your contact information uniform across any website on which someone might research you?
It’s important to make sure your professional background matches across online platforms. Doing so will turn your online presence into a unified front rather than a disjointed mess. This is especially useful when you’re job seeking. Information that doesn’t match up across different social networks might raise a red flag, causing a recruiter to look the other way.
An easy way to make sure that you remain uniform throughout is to write down your answers to common questions across different platforms. For example, when you first create or revise your LinkedIn profile, take the wording, details, contact information, and titles you inserted into your profile and save them in a Word document.
Then, as you move to different social networks like Facebook and Twitter, use information straight from that document and insert it where appropriate.
Be sure to make the necessary changes to style and tone to fit the platform. The way you present yourself on a professional network like LinkedIn should be different from the way you present yourself on a portfolio site like Behance or a social network like Twitter.
Got any extracurriculars?
After you’ve gone through and refined or created your basic profiles, your next step will be to advertise your extracurricular activities. And no, that doesn’t mean your college extracurriculars!
Anything productive you do outside of a workplace environment can be considered an extracurricular activity. If you’re an amateur photographer, a weekend coder, an aspiring web designer, an artist, a freelance writer - the list goes on and on - you can and should create portfolios of your work online.
Your options for platforms are endless: Behance or Dribbble for designers, GitHub and Stack Overflow for coders, 500px for shutterbugs, DeviantArt for artists - find the right portfolio site for your extracurriculars and sign up.
From there, curate the best-of-the-best examples of your work and highlight them. When your name comes up in a Google search, you’ll want potential employers, professionals, and recruiters to find your profiles, look at your work, and be impressed. Include links to your various profiles on the major social and professional networks so that your work be easily reached.
Having an online display of your extracurriculars is useful in showing that you’re a multifaceted professional with varying interests who takes pride in their work. It also gives other like-minded professionals talking points for when they want to introduce themselves to you. Most importantly, it gives recruiters the chance to learn more about what you would be like outside the workplace.
Start adding value
A great way to make your online presence stand out is to get involved and add value in professional conversations. Find relevant Twitter chats, join LinkedIn groups for your field and industry, browse Quora for questions you can answer, and find forums and communities on Reddit where you can contribute your expertise.
By intelligently getting involved in conversations, you’ll be adding value into the lives and professions of others while at the same time creating a body of writing that you can be evaluated on professionally.
Since all social media sites are easily searchable, your contributions can and will be found by those who are interested in reading them. Any answer on Quora can be easily found with a simple Google search of your name. Contributing in groups on LinkedIn and adding your perspective in chats with vocal industry professionals on Twitter will allow you to make connections, meet new people, and network with like-minded professionals.
Take advantage of these various platforms both for your personal and professional development. Not every step on the way to making your next career move has to be a gigantic leap. Small steps like answering a few questions, helping out fellow professionals, and writing down your thoughts can add up quickly. Compound that with easily discoverable and up to date online profiles, and you will have created a highly effective online first impression.