Whether you like it or not, someone is probably using Google to learn more about you. I’m not talking about your stalkers (although they may exist, too); I’m referring to potential employers, colleagues, and perhaps even your professors. If you go to networking events, those you’ve just met may even Google you as soon as they go home. More than ever, your online brand plays an important role in your ability to get opportunities and to further your career goals.
You can leave the management of your online brand to chance — or you can control it yourself. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I’m advocating for the latter. As a self-professed social media enthusiast, I’m offering a quick and easy 5-step plan for those who haven’t taken any actions yet in managing their online brand. Managing your brand online can become complex; however, just by following these basic steps, you can ensure that you’re managing what people see when they search for you online.
Step #1: Write your profile.
This step might surprise you, and you may question why I place it first on the list. You may even think that this is a silly step.
Writing a profile isn’t as easy as it sounds. To do this, you need to dig deep and be honest about yourself. Who are you? What’s your big dream? What are you passionate about? Do you have any interesting hobbies? What makes you unique?
This step requires some reflection, but it is an important one. Regardless of the number of social media you use, you need to maintain some consistency with what you write in your profile. Having an impactful and meaningful profile will give a good impression to someone viewing your profile for the first time. It will also help you build your network because individuals will be more likely to want to connect with you.
You may not get this right immediately, but having some idea on what you want to write in your profile is a good first step.
Step 2: Open a LinkedIn account.
Think of LinkedIn as professional equivalent of Facebook. Professionals everywhere are using it to build their network, find jobs, follow companies, and help other professionals. Even CEOs are finding ways to use LinkedIn!
Having a public LinkedIn account is imperative for your online brand management because it usually ranks high on Google. In many cases, it will rank as #1. If someone’s trying to search for you online, you might as well as show them your career experiences and achievements. To maximize your LinkedIn account’s potential, take the time to create an effective profile. In the “Summary” section, try to incorporate what you’ve done for step #1.
Hot tip: Once you’re on LinkedIn, make sure you follow AIESEC”s company profile.
Step 3: Open a Twitter account.
I know many students who are intimidated with Twitter or who have a convoluted idea about the medium. While it is true that a bulk of content found on Twitter are regarding personal updates, it is actually also a good medium to build your brand. Personally I use it to communicate my expertise and my passions, connect with potential contacts, follow important individuals (such as CEOs of different advertising agencies or AIESECers from other countries), and rant about random stuff.
Twitter can be a bad thing if you don’t take a second to think about what you write, but this is true for any online medium. Ultimately, having a public Twitter account can help others get to know you better and can help paint a picture of your personality. If you use your real name on Twitter, your profile will usually appear on a Google search.
Optional: If you have decent Photoshop skills, you can create a more attractive Twitter background to show more pics or to communicate more about yourself. For an example of a good Twitter background, check out the profile of Christina, one our Summer Marketers and a member of the Corporate Relations team.
Step 4: Consolidate your accounts through Flavors.me.
Now that you have several profiles online, you probably want to have a single link you can use in your email signature and business cards. Flavors.me is a good tool for that: free accounts on the site allow you to include up to four of your social media profiles.
Using Flavors.me is super easy – it took me less than 15 minutes to set up a profile! If you can dish out some cash (about $20 per year), you can open a premium account with Flavors.me and get access to more layouts and fonts.
To see an example, check out AIESEC SFU’s Flavors.me page.
Step 5: Monitor, monitor, monitor!
Once you have the basics down, you’d want to monitor your online brand over time. Use the big three search engines — Google, Yahoo! and Bing — to search your name and see if you’re comfortable with the results. You might need to update your profiles once in a while. When you make changes, make sure you change your profile/summary in all platforms to ensure consistency.
So, that’s it, folks. As you can see, building your online brand is not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re a newbie, try these tips and let us know how it works out for you! If you’re already an expert in managing your online brand, feel free to suggest additional tips in the comments section.