When you work from home, most of the impression you make with business contacts is online. Most of the way you get your paycheck is online, too, unless you make something to sell at a market somewhere. But even in that case, how are they finding your booth at the market? Do your customers ask if you are on Etsy or a similar online format?
If you honestly evaluate your work-from-home plans, they are going to include your online brand. Online branding is the catch-phrase for “everything anybody can find about you on the internet and the way it makes you look to the world.”
People who work from home, particularly if they are freelancers, need to pay attention to their online brand because it affects their business. People who work from home for a company need to pay attention to their online brand because it affects the way they are seen by their employer. The bottom line is, your online brand is worth investing in because it means money.
Our premium LinkedIn Profile Development services include online branding and profile development coaching. That means it will be customized advice for your particular situation, giving you the tools to use the internet to your advantage. You get an hour of personal coaching, a usage guideline, and a filled-in template to make it easy to deal with profiles as you increase your professional presence online.
In a way, everyone that works from home is involved with marketing themselves because people don’t have an accurate picture of what you do. Your online brand should be one way to show them that accurate picture and get the respect you deserve.
One of the ways to improve your online brand is by being active online in ways that focus on your professional arena. You can start out by using search engines to find news in your field, but you can also find niche communities of your peers and connect on social media sites like LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.
Once you have some professional places to hang out on the web it’s a good idea to start interacting with others on those sites. Make intelligent comments on blog posts, have discussions that are courteous, and always have a link back to your own blog under your name. Be the opposite of a troll. This gives you a wide audience of people who view you favorably and probably will be interested in visiting your blog to see if there is more good stuff to be found.
When they come to your blog, have some good stuff there. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds:
- link to content that you found helpful and make some comments then ask for opinions
- write a short (250-500 word) post every few days about something in your field
- have a mix of news items and evergreen content that is always useful
If you do a little bit every day, it slowly builds up into an impressive, authoritative presence that gives weight to your online brand. When potential employers look you up online, you look good. Many people actually are hired based on internet activity that created a relationship and developed respect for the knowledge displayed. The job offer came as a result of the added authority of their online presence.
If you decide you need professional help for your online brand, we offer online branding/profile development coaching that just might be what you are looking for.
Online branding is hard to avoid if you are going to be involved with society. It’s actually happening whether or not you want it to, because some of your information is probably online already. Don’t believe me? Try doing a search on your name — I’ll wait.
This is why you need to “own” your online brand. Maybe there was a lot of entries with your name, maybe just a few, but when you submit your resume to a company, the name on your resume is what they will search. It’s a very important part of your professional package. But sometimes, you need to get help in order to get your online brand what it needs to be. Here are three possible reasons to ask for that help:
- You are overwhelmed with all that is going on in your life right now. Sometimes life throws a real curve ball and you are starting over from square one. It could be a divorce, a death or major illness, coming back into the workforce after a hiatus, a family emergency, or even a natural disaster. If there is too much on your plate, this is one thing you can delegate to a professional.
- You don’t really know what you are doing with the whole computer thing. You are learning, but you are afraid of making a mistake. I always tell newbies to the computer age, ‘You can’t break it!’ Getting professional help will give you a confident start and you can take it from there. Or you can learn as you go and try it out. Either way it’s a reality you will need to face –e-commerce, for example– you can’t go to an actual Amazon “store”… you need to order online to get what you want from there. Start small and work your way up to profile creation.
- You now realize that you blew it big time. You have been buzzing along posting selfies and crazy party photos, and now you wish you’d listened when your mom told you to be discreet. She was right and now you are sorry, but you have no idea what to do about it. A professional would have experience in this area and could help. We help with reputation management and can help you clean up your digital dirt. Then you can tell all the tweens you know to heed your warning.
Professional Resume Services offers several types of online branding help, from LinkedIn Profile Development to Online Branding/Profile Development Coaching and even an Online Branding Power Package (all on the link; scroll down and see). It’s also part of what is offered in our Coaching Services. If you need help with your online brand, you can find it here!
You hear the word “networking” in a positive light most of the time, but think about it: Who are you networking with? If every conversation is gossip or complaining, then it has an effect on the way you think and act. In addition to how it affects you, there’s an effect on how your employer or potential employer perceives your character. It’s true; your online lifestyle can ruin a career opportunity.
But the opposite is also true; the way you interact on social media can create and enhance a career opportunity. One way to do this is by curating who you follow on Twitter. I don’t mean you can’t follow your favorite celebrity, but think about the type of information you are taking in. If you are reading blogs that you find beneficial for your career field, see if the blogger has a Twitter feed and get small chunks of inspiration throughout the day. You could even develop a relationship with that person as you interact.
You’d be surprised at how many online mentoring moments take place when there’s a two-way conversation about more serious topics than who got drunk at the party. Basically, the internet is a tool, and the way you use that tool reveals what you are interested in knowing more about. That’s why a lot of employers are so interested in the online brand of their employees, and it’s not going to change. The type of person you are online is how you might be in a stressful situation at work, and they know it.
If you are not sure who would be good to follow on Twitter, I have a suggestion: the Savvy Intern at YouTern recently came out with their Top 50 Twitter Accounts Job Seekers MUST Follow (2014). I know that this is a good list not because I’m on it but because I follow some of them myself.
How often are you told you need a LinkedIn Profile that is keyword rich, then you read an article on LinkedIn that tells you, “Stop Using These 16 Terms To Describe Yourself“? The main thrust of the article is that the keywords generally are cliches and should be left out of your branding vocabulary. However, keywords are very necessary in terms of being found on LinkedIn. Whenever I read an article like that, I try to take the time to read all the comments because there will generally be a debate! This particular article, though, has over 3,000 comments so that is probably not going to happen this time.
One common reality that many readers mention in this debate is the fact they won’t even make it to the interview without the keywords/cliches in the resume so the search engine brings it up to the person who decides on the viability of the candidate.
Words are tools. Tools can be poorly made and fall apart the first time used, or finely crafted and used by generations to build things. The goal isn’t the tool, although tools can be very beautiful. The goal of a tool is its usefulness in helping the user achieve their goal, what ever it is. But even the best tool cannot do anything without the user’s skill.
When you look at our LinkedIn Profile Development service you see how an expert views this debate: you need both the keywords/cliches and the humanizing factor. The keywords often are cliches, but an experienced wordsmith knows how to use them to get past the computers to the people. If all you have is cliched keywords, the resume stops here. It’s that human factor, the individuality brought out by a skillful resume/profile writer, that connects with the person reading about you.
There are too many profiles out there for a person to read all of them. That’s what search engines are for! And search engines are computers looking for keywords. The words are tools we use to get you to the person’s notice and to bring your “brand” to the front, where all that makes you unique can shine. That’s the “humanizing” factor and the other leg your online branding stands on.
Use the words that make up your online brand/presence wisely. Remember that you need both the keyword/cliche AND the individual spark that makes you recognizable.
One of the red flags an interviewer looks for is inconsistency in your information. If you have updated your professional resume, take the time to look at your cover letter and online information carefully to make sure they all match. I’m not saying to keep a falsehood consistent because lying is never a good idea, but I am saying that if you are not updating everything when you refresh one thing it eventually will look like you lied because the records are inconsistent.
This is an easy trap to fall into because there are so many places your professional information can be found. If you have recently taken a seminar on a specialty in your field, you may remember to put it on your resume but forget about your LinkedIn profile. Do that three times and your online brand is lacking three important pieces of information about you. Do that ten times, and an interviewer will wonder what’s going on.
This is also an easy trap to avoid! All you need to do is understand that updating your professional resume involves more than the pages you print out to mail with a cover letter or attach to an email. When you look at the professional resume packages offered, you’ll see that reflected. If you aren’t going to invest in a service like that, then it is a good idea to post a reminder to yourself in your resume folder that change to one means changing it all.
You are a package deal; a composite of experience and training and perspective that will benefit an employer. Your professional resume ‘package’ is a composite of your online brand, resume, and any other information a potential employee can dig up. Keep your information consistent across that package and there won’t be any red flags to find.
Even if you have no plans to run a business, you have an online brand: it is the persona the internet world perceives you to be. What comes up when your name is put in a search engine? Are you on social media with embarrassing pictures? Why would I tell you to “own” your online brand?
To own something is to be invested in it, to take responsibility for it, and to proactively maintain it.
Any prospective employer is going to be looking at what kind of presence you have online. The positions with more at stake may involve a bit more research, because there will be a desire to know if there’s anything that will be a problem once you are in the company. Security clearances can require quite extensive background checks. Depending on the position you are seeking, what comes up online on your “brand” might cost you a job.
Now is the time to invest in your online brand. It can be an investment of time and effort, or you may choose to actually maintain a purchased site in your name with your professional highlights. A LinkedIn profile is worth the research and investment. Learn about online personal branding and get advice on the type of development your career should involve.
Now is the time to take responsibility for your online brand. Do what needs to be done to clean up your profiles on Facebook and the rest of the social media you are involved in. Maybe you need to tighten up your privacy settings, and perhaps you should have a professional social media page, or a personal one — and be very careful about what is allowed on each. It isn’t difficult to find horror stories about pictures that should never have been posted being circulated beyond what was intended with consequences unanticipated. If you have made a major mistake, fix it to the best of your ability and be prepared to show how you have matured.
Now is the time to proactively maintain it. Make the commitment to own your online brand and consistently check to see how the world sees you. Most of the people in the world will never see you in person, but if they can get online they can find out about you. Do what you need to do in order to keep your brand one that reflects the best about you.