Building and managing your online brand
Brand new year, brand new you
Do a Google search of your name and what do you find? If you don’t already know, make it your New Year’s resolution to not just find out but to build and manage an online brand that reflects the professional image you want to portray.
Linda White, Special to QMI Agency
“Someone’s Google search is very fast becoming your reputation,” says Paul Copcutt, personal brand strategist and career coach at Square Peg Solution. “If that search happens, you want the first things that appear on Google to be the things you want to be known for.”
Whether you’re posting your resumé on job boards, writing or commenting on a blog, Tweeting, using LinkedIn or other social media, you’re creating an online trail that can be easily tracked by a current or potential employer, colleague or client.
“People may not think about that as their own brand but that’s exactly what it is,” says Marty Parker, president and CEO of Waterstone Human Capital, a professional recruitment, executive search and human resource consulting services firm. “People should be aware of it and resolve to really think about the integration of these media and what’s appropriate for their target market.”
Others use that information to form an impression, notes Copcutt. Should they hire you? Are you right for that promotion?
Before posting information online, he urges you to follow his golden rule: Would you be happy if your mother saw it or if the information appeared on the front page of your community newspaper? “Once it’s out there, it’s very hard to have it taken away,” he says.
Don’t think you need to worry about your online brand until you’re actively seeking work? “Sometimes that may be too late,” Copcutt says. “I’m hearing that companies aren’t actively hiring but if they find or hear about the right people, they’re making those approaches.”
A company may hear about you from a network contact or professional association, for example. “Companies still want talented people and chances are those talented people are currently employed. That’s the No. 1 reason why you should be actively managing your online brand,” Copcutt says.
One of the first steps on defining that brand is to identify your strengths and skills, as well as strong examples of how you used those in work situations with measurable results. “Chances are, people are going to key word search you on things such as qualifications, skills, attributes or strengths,” Copcutt says.
Ensure consistency in your brand on sites like Facebook (don’t forget to take advantage of available privacy settings), as well as professional sites — including associations in which you have membership. Consider registering a domain in your personal name. And don’t forget about your company’s intranet, where your profile should include a picture, skills and projects you’ve worked on.
Anything you can do to increase your visibility and credibility in what Copcutt predicts will be a slow growth period in the coming year is “critical. Online is the easiest way to it.” He recommends booking 30 minutes in your weekly calendar to manage your online profile. “Make it a discipline so you’re consciously doing something proactive, not reactive.”
Tips on increasing your online profile
Make a New Year’s resolution to develop a winning online brand and increase your profile with the following tips from Paul Copcutt, author of Google Me, How to Build Your Online Personal Brand in 10 Easy Steps:
• Conduct a search of your own name to determine what information about your personal and/or professional lives exists online.
• Begin building your online identity by posting your profile on such sites as ZoomInfo, LinkedIn and Ziggs. Define yourself as an expert in one or two areas rather than trying to be something for everyone.
• Create a blog. Track other blogs relevant to your expertise and post comments that add value to their conversations.
• Have you read books relevant to your target audience? Post an online book review at Chapters or Amazon.
• If you belong to a professional organization or associations with online forums, contribute advice to questions posed.