Much like a company has to set certain branding guidelines to keep their online presence in line with their company values and goals, you should be doing the same for your own personal online presence. This is particularly important if you intend to use social media to help you in your job search (which we recommend!). Your online presence should give your followers a good idea of who you are professionally, and personally. When mixing your social circles with your professional ones, it can be difficult to find a good balance of professionalism and personality. It’s important to understand how your online presence could be affecting your colleague’s perceptions of you.
No matter what platforms you choose to interact with online, your personal brand should stay consistent. Whether your account is “just for friends”, or to network with your professional community, you must keep in mind that anything you put out could eventually be seen by your boss, coworkers, and colleagues. With social media, you are your own personal PR team; never post anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable with everyone knowing. Social media can be an excellent place to build your professional network, but you should steer clear of all social media until you’ve firmly set boundaries for yourself and established your personal branding guidelines.
Here are the main things you should consider when establishing your personal brand:
- What are your core values? Make sure your online image is consistent with your value system.
- What makes you, you? Let your personality shine through. Be intentional and genuine about sharing your personality. How are you unique? Make sure your online persona reflects that.
- How do you engage with others? You may not realize it but it does get noticed when you engage in a debate on social media or comment inappropriately. Don’t be afraid to engage on social media, just think before you type.
- Be intentional about who you want to network with and make a plan as to how you will reach them.
- A picture can say a thousand words. Be careful what pictures you allow to be posted. This may be a good time to invest in professional headshots for a truly professional look.
Once you have your guidelines in place, go for it! Start establishing yourself on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram and maybe a personal website or blog. Think about which platforms are most relevant to your audience, and start with the ones you know and understand, then gradually expand as you begin to feel more comfortable. You’ll be surprised what new opportunities might result from your efforts!