If someone Googled your name right this minute, what would they find? Would it be a strong professional online presence that demonstrates your skills, your interests and your expertise? Or would they find pictures of you at parties and your latest Mafia Wars score?
Your online presence is your brand. It is important to build your brand so that you create a professional presence on the Internet, market yourself as a perfect candidate for a job or as the perfect employee in your present job, develop connections with contacts who can help you with your career, and make it easy for other professionals to find you.
How can you create a professional ‘brand’? Here are simple tips that will guide you:
1. Determine what you want to emphasize. For example, if you are a paralegal, you will want to emphasize your area of expertise, your skills, your education, certifications and honors. If you have more than one area of expertise, focus on the one that you believe is the most important and then put the others in a sub-category.
2. Choose the social media sites that best suit your needs. There are many, many social media sites. Some are better known than others and some will afford you more opportunities for networking. My recommendations would be LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter…with additional participation in Flickr if you are a photographer at heart.
3. Establish your LinkedIn profile. Every professional should have a presence on LinkedIn. Craft a detailed profile with as much information as possible. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for people to find you for networking purposes or to recruit you for a new job. Join groups of interest and begin inviting contacts. If you can get professional acquaintances to give you a recommendation, this is another way to give yourself a credible ‘brand.’
4. Set up a Facebook profile. Facebook is more ‘fun’ than Linked in…there are widgets, games, pictures, video and lots of other bells and whistles. It is easy to view Factbook as pure entertainment. Instead, it is as important to be prefessional here as it is on LinkedIn. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, post pictures of family and trips, or cheer on your favorite sports team. The boundaries between work and play are definitely more relaxed. Your Facebook friends can be important networking connections, though, so you will want to err on the side of professional caution when you when you post information.