Are you managing your professional reputation online? Whether you’re looking for new clients, a promotion or hunting for a new job, it’s essential that you take the lead in creating a winning online first impression. Clients, employers, and headhunters want to find you online. Today, having a polished, professional and intentionally managed online presence is an expected part of a professional resume.
Here’s a checklist of what your online presence should include:
- Up-to-date and consistent bios. Your bio is a concise summary of your expertise, credentials and achievements. It should include a current professional head shot, as well as the key elements of your career. Your bio/profile should be consistent across all of the places where it is listed (company web site, LinkedIn, Facebook, professional and alumni organization sites, other membership sites).
- A complete LinkedIn page. By complete, I mean your LinkedIn page should not only have your photo and bio, but it should also list your full resume, and you should request recommendations from trusted clients, colleagues and supervisors) to make sure your profile shows you at your best. Make sure that you’ve added your personal network of contacts to your LinkedIn profile, people whom you would be comfortable recommending or referring. A broad network multiplies the power of your connections, so make sure you add the people you want to stay connected with.
- Harness the power of Facebook to engage in conversations, stay connected with casual business acquaintances and showcase your experience in a laid-back way. While it’s not OK to add everyone you meet to your mailing list, it is OK to invite the people whose business cards you collect at luncheons and networking events to be your Facebook friend. Have a page just for you, the business professional, and don’t mingle personal/professional information. Facebook is also a great place to showcase your portfolio or case studies, and to get conversations going around recently read business books.
- While bios/profiles and a presence on LinkedIn are non-negotiable in today’s business world, sites like Gist.com and Naymz.com are nice extras. Gist makes it easier for you to track what key contacts are doing (as revealed by their social media updates) so that you can have current, relevant conversations with important clients, contacts and interviewers. Naymz is similar to LinkedIn and another place prospective clients and employers will go to check out your reputation.
- For those who are looking for part-time work while job hunting or are starting their own professional services firms, joining Elance.com and Guru.com puts you in touch with a global market of prospects. There is a monthly fee to join as a service provider, but it’s very small compared to the huge number of project assignments on which you can bid. Pleasing a client on a small project can lead to larger projects or to repeat assignments. As always, make sure your profile and portfolio are complete and show you at your best.
Most of the above-mentioned sites are free, and the others charge a minimal fee. Consider it money well spent for the ability to network on a global scale and to keep in close touch with your business connections. When you use social media sites as part of your professional reputation management efforts, you will see how powerful it is to harness the power of your network while meeting new contacts without ever leaving home.
My friend Gail Martin, author of 30 Days to Social Media Success, recommends that you create a mini business plan for your online efforts to help you stay on track and avoid distractions. She also suggests planning half an hour a day into your schedule to build and maintain your social media and online presence.
Managing your online presence and taking control of your cyber reputation is your responsibility, but it also creates fantastic new opportunities to build and strengthen your professional connections. Start today to update and upgrade your online reputation, and tap into the power of the Internet for your career.