The difference between marketing yourself offline versus online is fairly simple. It’s the difference between a personal interaction and an impersonal, distant interaction. A personal interaction with you is going to have more value, but an online interaction with your brand is still vital and needed in marketing yourself in today’s marketplace.
Most of us use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps other social and networking sites. Professionally, using LinkedIn is the current, most visible mechanism for building your online identity and is a valuable resource used by recruiters for organizations of all kinds. Employers are perusing this website to actively reach out to prospective employees to recruit to their firm. So it’s very important to develop an online presence to market your brand.
Create a professional profile on LinkedIn that defines your brand. While you can post your resume and list accomplishments, you can also write a profile that tells a more compelling story about yourself, and key skills and experience. There are also many other sections you can use to list skills and expertise, certifications, courses, honors and awards, languages, publications, as well as advice on how others can connect with you. Also, ask others to “recommend” you. This enhances your brand.
If you use Facebook, it’s wise to think about the nature and access to posts, photos and timeline events if they might be more personal than professional. Also, if using Twitter be mindful of your tweets as they are also found on Internet searches. Rather than tweet about what you just ate, consider tweeting about your profession – industry news and add your opinion. Also, Twitter has job postings, aggregated lists and industry-specific opportunities.
Also consider creating your own website to promote your brand. There are free templates available online, free CMS sites including WordPress and Joomla make updates easy, and even Google offers a new web-based design facility. With your own domain you can upload a resume, project list, portfolio and other marketing materials as well as produce an in-depth profile that puts light on your knowledge, experience and skill set. Plus, it illustrates a specialized knowledge that reflects you are keeping up with electronic technology.
Develop Your Online Brand Profile
With LinkedIn, for example, you can develop a professional online brand profile that defines your brand as well as develop a resume that you can use. Prospective employers will want to see this. A personal blog and website also contributes to your online profile. But since LinkedIn is currently the most frequently used and viewed segment by recruiters, HR and employers in searching candidates it’s important that you develop a really strong LinkedIn profile. This tends to be the site that comes up on top in a Google search too.
Your LinkedIn profile helps your brand connect with others in your network, including prospective employers. It will increase your online presence so take extra time to develop it. Begin by writing a strong background summary. Like your resume, use key words and skills as this will help others to find you when they search using such terms. Highlight your knowledge, experience, expertise, achievements, and core skill set. Also, use a professional photo that reflects the image you want portrayed.
As you follow the LinkedIn template for creating your entire profile, you will discover it offers numerous ways for you to display your brand, from listing your skills and expertise, to listing certifications, courses taken, honors and awards, as well as organizations you belong to and special projects you have worked on. It’s also important to use your contact settings in such a way that others will know what you are interested in and are available for such as new career opportunities, new business, consulting, special projects, etc.
Also, request recommendations from others as these serve as references and validate your professionalism.
Post and Manage Your Online Brand
Keep your online presence professional at all times; be meticulous and manage it professionally. Social media misuse can and will work against you just as unprofessional postings online can do. Be careful about posting questionable photos, comments and the like. Always assume others are closely watching you, including your present and future employer.
Be consistent in what you post, how it looks (including your photo) and the content you show. Be precise about what you post online and make sure all spelling, grammar, facts, figures, statistics, achievements, project lists, etc. are absolutely accurate and correct.
Also, take advantage of influencers; build a network of influential people – customers, clients and experts in your niche. Connect with others in the network, including professional friends, colleagues, associates, and key business leaders. Generally the more you network the greater the chances are for new opportunities to come your way. However, it’s also important to note that quality and not the quantity of your network is what will make the difference in advancing your career and your online presence. Build a strong online brand and then network, network and network.
Personal branding is an ongoing activity. It isn’t complete just because you posted it once. You must continue to update it as your experience and skill set grows. Its ongoing development is similar to a product lifecycle so creating, maintaining and evolving your brand will help you enhance your online brand presence as well as project you positively and proactively with future employers and colleagues.