What is your online presence saying about you?
The information people find about you online is as much a part of your business and personal marketing as your resume or brochure. How you present yourself online can make or break a sale, a job interview, a college application or a speaking invitation. Think of it as a “Silent Seller.” Is your online presence working for you, or is it working for the competition?
I’m amazed how many times an otherwise polished professional is not aware of the negative marketing message his or her Internet presence (or lack thereof) is sending. Far too often, the in-person and online messages send conflicting signals.
You know the importance of a good first impression. Your potential client, editor or recruiter is likely to receive that first impression long before meeting you in person. He or she will go online to check out your web site and social media presence. If you don’t make a good online first impression, you may never get the chance to dazzle the prospect in person.
To make a good in-person first impression, you know to be dressed for success and full of personality. You understand the importance of making a positive emotional connection. You know how to share a message about your professional strengths, the benefits of your business, and how vital it is to share your great business card.
Now think about what a prospect, recruiter, editor or potential joint venture partner might find if they begin by searching for you online. Is your internet presence “silent seller” or a “deal killer”? Imagine that your name came up in a job search, or that a former client referred you, or that an editor is searching online for a good story. Your name is driving the search to your 24/7 online Silent Seller. Will you get a new client, a new job, or be published?
The following is a Silent Seller Checklist. The bullets may seem basic, but when looking for people online I find that most people need to update, add, and enhance their professional online Silent Seller.
- Are you easy to find?
- Is it clear what you do?
- Is the information about you accurate and up to date?
- Is it easy to contact you?
- Is there a professional headshot?
- Do you have a bio or resume?
- Do you have a website?
- Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook? Is your profile complete and current?
- Does your online image reflect the current success of your business?
- Do you stand out from the competition with a clear statement of benefits and value?
- Are there examples of your work, case studies or testimonials?
- How do you compare or look next to your competitors?
- Does your information do a good job of qualifying people before they contact you?
- If your name or company name is similar to someone else’s, can a prospect easily find the right information about you?
Whether or not you have thought about your Silent Seller, information that impacts your professional image is already on the Internet. If there is nothing about you at all, that’s even worse since the lack of online presence can make you seem behind-the-times and not serious about business.
Try this: research yourself as if you are a prospect who was referred, an editor looking for an expert to quote, or someone who met you at an event and wanted to look you up as a potential designer. Did you find yourself? Being invisible is not a good thing. If you did find yourself, did the information reflect positively on you as a professional? How did the information compare with the checklist above? Do this exercise every few months and make changes to your online information as necessary.
In today’s online marketplace, you don’t have the option to be offline. It’s essential for you to actively manage your online reputation to present yourself at your professional best. Take ownership of your online presence and take control how your web site and social media sites portray you to ensure your Silent Seller is accurate and professional.