When developing your career, networking, or simply looking unique, it is increasingly important to be your own brand ambassador. Here are 7 beginner’s keys to developing your own brand online.
1) Consistency Is Everything
When developing a brand for a company, consistency is everything. This same logic applies to your own brand online. The more consistent and cohesive your online brand is, the more professional and organized you will look.
This is also helpful towards identifying who you are on different platforms. Employers want someone who is memorable, organized, and is aware of their cross-platform presence. For example, if your email signature says, “Partner & VP of John’s Firm” but your LinkedIn title says, “Staff Manager at John’s Law Firm,” you will create confusion. Inconsistencies in your job titles can especially delegitimize your appearance.
2) Have An Email Signature, And Keep It Updated
An email signature is a great way to remind people who you are, or inform them if they don’t already know. It’s important to think of your email signature as your virtual business card; therefore, your signature should contain your job title, company name, and website in the very least.
It is imperative that you keep this signature consistent with the rest of your brand. Also remember that if you use Outlook/Microsoft Exchange, your signature is typically only saved within the application you uploaded it to. This means if you have Outlook on your laptop and phone, you will have to individually update your signatures. Be sure to keep your signature short and concise- just like a business card.
3) Have A LinkedIn. Use Your LinkedIn
Regardless of whether or not you are looking for jobs, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for expanding your professional network and learning more about your career. Remember that while you may be happy with your job, but you never know what layoff, conflict, or new opportunity could arise.
Always stay connected with your friends, family, and past and present co-workers. This will give your professional network some foundation to imply you are known and recognized. Whenever sending invitations to connect with someone, always customize it. Even though they will most likely accept your invitation, what’s the point? This is a professional networking site, not Facebook. That being said, never connect with your hiring manager on LinkedIn, before or after an interview, without their explicit permission. If you are already connected with them, leave it be. This has been reported by many hiring managers as a huge turnoff if they are already on the fence about you.
Be sure to post/share a few times a week, but don’t be a power user and cluttering people’s feeds. Whenever you make a post or send a message on LinkedIn, proof read it extensively. A simple grammar mistake can delegitimize what you’re speaking for, or ruin any networking opportunities and make you look desperate. Also, this goes without saying, but remember that LinkedIn is not Tinder. Under no circumstances should you flirt, or intend to flirt with someone using the platform (you would be surprised how often this happens).
4) Wherever You’re Connected With Professional Contacts, Have A Professional Profile Picture
If your friends list on Facebook, or your followers tab on Twitter consists of majority professional contacts or people who aren’t your friends, it’s a safe measure to have at least a semi-professional looking profile picture. This is to give that you’re not just fronting for LinkedIn, and that you are conscious of your professional appearance.
Your LinkedIn picture should always be a professional headshot, no matter how much you don’t think it’s your best angle. Remember that this is a professional networking site. These pictures are best taken by other people, but you can also rebel and take using a timer/remote function and a tripod.
5) Privatize Your Social Life
If your Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter consists of potentially racy, controversial, or inappropriate content, it’s imperative that you privatize them to the best of your ability. Your employer may not share your taste in memes, enjoy your party photos, or find your political/social rants inspiring. Utilizing lists on Facebook is helpful to this, especially if you have a large and diverse friends list.
When it comes to a non-private Twitter, be cautious even of what you like. Employers can learn a lot about a person’s true personality from the stuff on Twitter. Something similar goes for Instagram; be conscious of what you’re being tagged in. If your profile is public, people can see the public posts you’re tagged in. This being said, remember that on Facebook, whenever you comment on a public post, make a public post to someone’s timeline, or are tagged in a public post, it is easily available through a quick search.
6) Detail Your LinkedIn Job Descriptions
While you don’t want to feature an essay in your job descriptions, always paint a detailed picture of what your responsibilities are/were in that particular role. If you’re lost for words, you can get started by using the job description for your position as a foundation.
One thing in LinkedIn job descriptions that stands out is when users take full advantage of the links/media portion. This not only displays your passion for your work, but also gives your professional contacts the opportunity to learn more about the projects you accomplished, or the company you worked for. Always be sure to update these with your latest and greatest work.
7) Keep Most Of Your Professional Accomplishments To LinkedIn
Most importantly, remember to stay grounded and humble. While these points are mainly directed towards branding for your professional network, this is more so directed to your social network. While it is okay to feature your jobs in the about me section of your Facebook profile, try to avoid featuring to many accomplishments in your public intro. To you friends, it can come off as arrogant, and can be a minor turn off. Some employers may find this disappointing as well, as it may come off as you trying to flaunt your titles to everyone.
With this being said, also be sure to keep all of your professional forms of contact and correspondence limited to email or LinkedIn. It is still rather unorthodox to discuss professional matters over through channels like Facebook, and to some can be extremely invasive. While you should add your professional contacts socially at your own discretion, never use primarily social platforms for professional matters.
When it comes to marketing yourself online, always remember that you are your own brand ambassador. All of your information must be consistent and up to date. Keep in mind that your social life and professional life should be separate online. You wouldn’t want potential employers or professional contacts to be turned away by your political views, taste in memes, or your love for partying. Most importantly, before posting, updating, or sending anything, always be sure to proof read.