It wasn’t that long ago you could say ‘social media isn’t my thing’ and get away with not having a professional profile online. However, in these contemporary times, (and certainly more so for certain professions) it is expected that you have an engaging professional presence online as an individual.
Recently I happened to be dining with friends, several of whom are passively job hunting. The topic of your professional brand came up; each one of them agreed that it’s relatively easy to find help and advice on setting up and optimising your social profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry related communities. However, the consensus was that they found themselves at a standstill when it came to working out how to pitch themselves without sounding generic, using clichés or sounding like a sales pitch for where they work.
For those of you who have always been active on your professional social media networks this of course isn’t a problem or hard to do, but for most people and particularly those who are not millennials, it can be quite daunting. Most of us struggle with this because there really isn’t one clear approach for developing and curating your personal brand online.
Essentially, you need to find an approach that resonates with you. So as a starting point consider these three areas to focus on when building your personal brand online: positioning, authenticity and engagement.
It’s important to think about where and how you are going to position yourself. When you put all your ducks in a row, how do you want to be viewed? What kind of personality do you want to project? If you’re still not sure, think about how your values relate to the professional you. How can you position yourself with those values in mind
In my view, authenticity is critical when building your personal brand strategy as authenticity goes hand in hand with trust. If you can build trust with your peers, colleagues and community, you will have a much stronger brand than those who haven’t.
- Be 100% genuine and truthful about everything that you say, the detail in your profile to the interactions you have with people. If you tweak the truth or aren’t your true self-online, your network and community will soon find out.
- Be real – you don’t want to come across as a robot by simply posting and never interacting or commenting. Find your own style and tone of voice that is similar to how you would normally speak and hold a conversation. Put yourself out there and show some emotion and opinion in your writing.
- If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then don’t post it. No one likes people who hide behind their online profile, so be true to yourself.
- Once you’re comfortable with writing and posting online, consider sharing some of your personal experiences, even those slip-ups or mistakes as these can be very powerful showing how you’ve dealt with situations, how others can learn from your experiences and how resilient you can be.
Engage with others
This may be an obvious one but in addition to starting discussions, you need to proactively engage with your networks content, posts, and shares. It may take a bit of time and you may need to schedule time into your calendar to do this but it is necessary as simply put, no one likes a one-sided relationship. Seek out those in your professional networks who you resonate with and share their content, give your two cents and praise where deserved. Also remember to have fun – not everything has to be serious, everyone loves a bit of good-natured humour.
You want to make sure people see you as a real person, that the image you put across focuses on what makes you unique and represents your worth, passion and ambitions. By being authentic, engaging with your community and by having the right positioning, your personal online brand will flourish. You will start increasing your networks, receiving recognition for your contributions, expand your knowledge in more areas and be able to showcase your skills to those who matter.
Finally, however you decide to look at it, the digital world and social media is here to stay. So it’s worth putting some time and thought into how you would like to represent yourself in the social sphere. Go on… give it a go!
This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.