Let’s face it, the job market is becoming more and more competitive. Although I unfortunately haven’t experienced other job markets around the globe, I would imagine that no matter where you live, getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult. Employers are now going towards the online application process, limiting the amount of face-to-face contact.
It’s one of the shortfalls of the Internet, but how can you use the Internet and technology to your advantage to stand out instead of being looked over and forgotten?
Many people often think that the “Internet stuff” is just for technology careers and young people, but it’s not. There are many cases where having a solid online presence has proven beneficial to people of all ages and industries.
It All Starts With The Right Mentality
Just like anything, creating a professional online presence starts with a firm purpose and a mentality that you will give it your best shot. You can’t just start a “blog”, never publish any solid content and then expect to attract potential career opportunities. No – you need to have a vision and a purpose for what you hope to gain.
Also, despite your efforts, you’ll likely not see immediate results. It may take several months before you start seeing the benefits of creating your online presence.
So, Why Should I Create A Professional Online Presence?
So if you won’t see results right away and it takes a lot of effort and vision and purpose… why even do it? Why not just put that same effort and time towards other things that might yield a quicker return? Because effort shows. And vision shows. To who? Your potential employers, career contacts and people who share the same passion and interests as you.
How does that phrase go again? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know? Yes. That’s it! Well, that’s what creating an online presence is all about. Some people have accidentally fallen into a career by doing this without really “trying” and have become very successful. However, for many (and probably the majority) it takes a lot of effort, but also quite a bit of know-how.
Alright, I Want To Do This! Now How Do I Go About It?
There are several things you need to do to achieve your goal of creating a professional online presence. But as you read this, don’t look at it each of these as individual things you have the option of doing. Instead, think of all of them as just a piece of the whole picture. Without one part, the picture isn’t complete.
Don’t Share Anything You Don’t Want EVERYONE To See
This is the golden rule with social media and there is never an exception. Perhaps you’ve heard about the recent mishap with Randi Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder’s sister and previous marketing director, who posted a personal photo which someone then posted to Twitter. Many of the original tweets about this have been deleted, but you can read the full story on CNBC, BuzzFeed and other news sites.
In response to all of this, Randi Zuckerberg shared a valid thought:
Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency
— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) December 26, 2012
She then replied to a follower inquiring about why she posted that:
@monicawharton I think people often forget that there is a human on the other end of a post or tweet! Sometimes they need reminding :)
— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) December 26, 2012
To which Buzz Bishop responded:
@randizuckerberg here's another thought, if you don't want it public, don't post it on the internet (or facebook for that matter)
— Buzz Bishop (@buzzbishop) December 26, 2012
Yes, Randi is right – we should be courteous of each other and that certainly is essential in creating a professional online presence, but we can’t assume others will do the same for us! Thus, we must adopt the rule that we won’t post or share anything that we don’t want everyone to see.
Will this photo ruin Randi’s professional presence online or her career? No. But what if she made the mistake with a much more personal photo or status? We never know the future or potential consequences for what we do, so it’s best to play it safe.
For more information, check out the article Clean Up Your Facebook Account Before You Go Looking For Work.
Be Open & Share Your Interests, Skills & Passions
Alright so now that I’ve pounded that in, I’m going to go on the contrary to say that you need to be open about yourself. Some people aren’t comfortable with this and although I think that it somewhat has to do with personality, I think the primary reason why they aren’t is simply because they don’t have a solid understanding of the word “open”. This doesn’t mean you put all of your life’s secrets on the Internet – just let people know who you are, what you do and hope to do, and why you do it.
There are many ways to go about doing this and I recommend combining some of them. Sure one or two might suffice and stand alone by themselves, but when using the techniques in this article, combined with multiple platforms, you will have a much better chance of achieving your goals, meeting more people, all while doing it quicker than if you were to just use one method.
Create a Personal Website &/Or Blog
If you’re like me (or were like me), you read that title and thought to yourself:
Ugh. I can’t make a website. What would I put on it? I don’t even know code! Plus, it’s too expensive.
I’ll tell you this – I thought that exact same thing. That is until the spring of 2012 when I read Thomas Frank’s article The Ultimate Guide To Building A Personal Website. His article is geared towards the student because his blog, College Info Geek, is obviously geared towards students. But like many of his other articles, the same advice can be applied to you if you aren’t a student.
At the very beginning he states 4 reasons why you need to build a website. It’s too long to quote, but if you found yourself saying those things above, you need to read his article – I guarantee it’ll change your perspective. Of course, it’s not just about the why, but the how too, which his article covers in depth flawlessly.
- How To Build Your Own Website In Minutes Without Any Coding Skills
- The Easiest Ways To Make A Personal Website Without Any Coding Skills
An Example Of An About.Me Page
I personally believe that WordPress is the best platform to build your website on and although knowing some code might help you, you don’t need to know any to get a basic personal website running – you can always learn how to code for free later. Also, as a quick note, I used to be very intimidated by WordPress – I honestly don’t know why. I created this huge mountain of doubt about why I couldn’t use it. But after reading Thomas Frank’s article, I jumped into it and realized how simple and easy it really is. If you’re having those same doubts, I encourage you to first read his article and, second, jump into it!
If you don’t want to fork over the money (although it’s not much) now for a website domain and hosting, you can always start with a blog. We’ve covered how to get started with a blog on WordPress as well as providing you 5 tips for starting your own personal blog, both of which are excellent resources I encourage you to read and save for future reference.
Find Your Niche In The Social Media Community
So you’ve created your website and blog, now you’re thinking, how do I let the right people know about it?
It’s one thing to tell your friends and family about your blog, but sadly, they aren’t the ones who are really going to benefit you or even care. They might read it occasionally because, well, they know you and they want to show you their support. But they aren’t the ones who are going to aid you in your goal of building your professional online presence. However, they are better than none. So don’t feel like you shouldn’t tell them about it – they just might be interested or even be able to help.
Family aside though, how do you find your niche? Well, first you have to know your niche. What is your blog or website going to be about? I feel you should focus it on you, but if you have additional interests, it might not be a bad idea to create blogs and websites for those too, depending on what they are. Such niches might be cooking, travel, politics, art, photography, film making – the list goes on.
Using Thomas Frank as an example, his niche is college students, thus he runs a very successful blog/website called College Info Geek.
After you have settled what your niche is going to be (it shouldn’t be hard as you should already have an idea what you like and don’t like), go out and network, finding people along the way who have the same interests as you. Remember what I was talking about being open and sharing your skills, interests and passions? This is where it comes into play. There are several mediums which you can achieve this on and I recommend using several, if not all, of them.
- LinkedIn – the ultimate professional profile
- Twitter – find people with your same interests, passions and skills
- Facebook – everyone uses it, don’t forget about making those career-specific posts public
- Tumblr – a very social blogging platform, great for creating a community
- Quora – create a name and reputation in your area of expertise by answering questions
- Pinterest – excellent for creative types such as photography, art, etc.
- Google+ – still young, but is starting to build communities in several niches
Of course there are many more. For example, if you’re an author you might consider Goodreads or if you’re a videographer or actor you might consider YouTube or Vimeo.
Again, it may take a while to build an audience and find people to interact with, but by constantly using the services you will find new ways to integrate them into your life and create your own system and style.
Blogging & Guest Blogging
Blogging is a medium all in itself. I mentioned Tumblr above, but there are so many platforms which you can blog on. Of course, there’s the famous WordPress, which you probably already know of. It’s really all about what you are most comfortable with. Personally, I’ve used many of them and I really never could decide which one was my favorite, so I have blogs on Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress and previously Posterous. They’re all great.
What’s more important is using your blog as a tool. Once you start creating posts and meeting other bloggers and contacts in your niche, consider guest blogging. Sometimes it pays, but the reward is far better than the small amount of cash that you’ll make with your post. It’s about connections and getting out there. When you establish a connection not only with fellow bloggers, but their readers too, that is when the connecting begins. Remember me mentioning Twitter? Most bloggers have a Twitter account – use it to keep in contact with them.
Communicate With Your Followers & Those You Follow
Creating a website, blog, social media accounts, content, contacts, etc. does you no good if you don’t communicate. You must communicate. Whether this be through social media, email, blog comments, whatever – it is essential to follow through with your followers and fans. If you don’t, you’ll be forgotten and they will move on to others who are more responsive and value them more.
This isn’t just about the average subscriber to your blog. I’m talking about career prospects and people who can make a difference for you – don’t ignore them, no matter how trivial it might seem.
Again, don’t look at each of these things as individual steps. Yes, each of them start out as little steps, but you can’t do without any of them – they’re all essential to your success of creating a professional online presence.
Each of these things I bring with personal experience, whether it was something I did or didn’t do. I wouldn’t consider myself even close to creating the online presence I want, but each day I strive to do a little bit to get closer.
Have you started to create your professional online presence? Why were you moved to do so? How have you seen its impact on your career?
Image Credits: Young woman looking up at world map via Shutterstock, Young man choosing profession on transparent touchscreen via Shutterstock, It’s all in the mind via Shutterstock, Businessman pressing modern social buttons on a virtual background via Shutterstock, Businesswoman pressing modern social buttons on a virtual background via Shutterstock