Google yourself – don’t worry, no one’s watching and we won’t judge you! Were you pleasantly surprised, alarmed or was everything just as you expected? Most of us think we have no social presence online because we do not have any social media accounts but that can be far from true. If your search yielded no results, is that what you really want? Whether you work in sales or not, we are all in the sales business. We are constantly selling our services – skills, expertise, experience – or products and to do this we need to NETWORK. Think of social media as networking with the biggest audience possible – the whole world.
We would define social presence as not just how an individual or organisation presents to the public but also how they are perceived by that public as well. Every time we interact with individuals or organisations, we create an impression whether we are immediately aware of it or not. This is true whether this interaction occurs face to face or online. Social media has become a powerful connection tool and we are constantly amazed at the opportunities it has brought our way. So where to start? For ‘digital visitors’ we’ll share some examples of some tools and how we can use them to build an online social presence.
Do you have a LinkedIn account? If no, why not? In my opinion, LinkedIn is the most important ‘place’ for aspiring professionals to be ‘seen.’ Think of LinkedIn as a Facebook for professionals. Your profile is akin to a CV and you are in control of what you choose to reveal or not to. Establish a professional image by using an appropriate picture in your profile – no holiday snaps from the beach or selfies please! LinkedIn can be used to build connections with other professionals but just as important, you can follow organisations and join groups relevant to your field. There is virtually no discipline that is not covered by a group and if there isn’t one for you, why not start one? Are you naturally shy and find it difficult to walk up to someone at an event and introduce yourself? Look them up on LinkedIn and invite them as a contact. I always recommend adding a short note to the basic LinkedIn invite message introducing yourself. Be professional.
Joining your alumni’s LinkedIn group can help you develop relationships with alumni working at your target organisations who may be willing to offer advice and mentorship. Don’t ignore your LinkedIn page, share posts that you think are relevant to your contacts and within the groups you follow.
Twitter could very well be one of the easiest and quickest ways of establishing connections and developing your online social presence. Using 140 characters at a time; you can share what you’ve written, information you find insightful, follow that company you really, really want to work for or learn about different industries and global brands. For your professional Twitter account, I would recommend using your name in your handle, for example – @amaratweets, @emmanueladukwu, @AspProfHub) – so people associate your handle with your person. We have been pleasantly surprised when a familiar face from Twitter walks up to us at a meeting and says hello.
Whenever you attend a meeting or conference, use hashtags to share information from speakers as well as connect with other attendees. Another way to interact with people in your discipline is to engage with webinars and tweetchats. Don’t be shy, contribute to the conversation. Be nice, reply when people ask you questions or send direct messages, retweet what other people are saying. Don’t worry if you do not have many followers in the first 3 days, it takes time to build a network. This rule applies whether building a network face-to-face or online. You are building your brand – be careful what you tweet especially if you are tweeting on behalf of an organisation.
A lot of us are already using Facebook to connect with our family and friends but it can also be a powerful professional networking tool. As of the first quarter of 2015, Facebook had over 1.44 billion active users so the world can really be your oyster. We would advise that if you want to project your professional social presence using Facebook you maintain two separate personas. There is nothing suspicious about doing this. If potential employers are going to be checking job applicants on networking sites, it is in your interest to find a way to keep private things private. Alternatively, set your privacy settings to manage what you share with your ‘friends’ vs. your professional contacts.
Of course, I hadn’t forgotten. Blogging is a communication tool that can really allow you share your story. Everyone loves a good story, it doesn’t matter if you are sharing something personal or communicating your point of view on recent events. If you are a creative person, you can showcase some of your products on your blog. We all know people who have made millions off blogging. Know your audience and write for your audience. Don’t be afraid to mix things up on your website. Keep improving. Link your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to your blog and use social media to disseminate your work.
A golden rule to remember: “if you don’t mean it, don’t post it!” Project an image online that you are proud of. It can be intimidating living in the “socialsphere” but you can manage how much you put out there.
About the Writers:
Amara Chukwu and Emmanuel Adukwu own and manage The Aspiring Professionals Hub – a space where they can engage with their readers and discuss careers, skills and education related issues. Follow them on Twitter @AspProfHub.