Whether you're a social media veteran or you're just starting out in your career, it's pretty unlikely you'll undervalue the power of the medium to create a personal impression and make connections. Yet, as the old saying goes, the shoemaker's kids always go shoeless. After a long day at the keyboard creating astonishing content for your various platforms or communicating with customers on behalf of a client, the thought of seeing another blue and white birdie or little red notification can be a stretch too far. All too often, a working week spent marketing for The Man means another week that our own hopes and dreams are put on the back burner.
It needn't, and shouldn't, be the way. You're ambitious: you got into this fast growing, super-modern business for a reason. Deep down, you know you should be working towards your own future and that you have the tools at your fingertips to do so. But finding the clarity to create a personal brand that sends the right messages can be tough, even for the most web-savvy professional.
Naturally, these days a CV - or even a more complex LinkedIn profile - is only a part of who you are in the eyes of potential employers and collaborators. Everywhere that you appear publicly on the internet is a potential clue, and everyone is a detective. This is why, whatever the emphasis of your deliberate social media manifestations, it's important to stay honest and consistent. Your needs now may differ from a few years down the line, but your essential self will remain the same, whatever kind of job it is you seek. So the first thing to do is to sit and down with an old-school pen and paper and decide what you're really about. What are your core values? What makes you unique - both professionally and socially? Where do you want to be in one, five, twenty years time?
You'll want to narrow this list down to just a few key commandments to which you can refer every time you establish a new profile or even make a post:
- Identify your niche - who you are, in just two or three lines - and then build around it.
- Choose a color scheme, a profile photo (although you'll need to update it from time to time).
- Identify a list of approved topics to strengthen your brand.
- Create a log-line, like for a movie (only less cheesy).
- Can create a mini-biography for your site, in which you state your proud successes but also one or two humorous and humble moments to keep it human. A shorter version of this bio can go at the top of your LinkedIn page.
This is just the start. Once you've rebooted your online presence, you'll need to remain active - to share, to communicate, to make new connections.
For a complete road-plan on how to do so, check out the infographic below, and remember that the sooner you start executing your new brand, the sooner you stop contributing to the messy old online you.