If you’ve got some extra time on your hands these days, you might want to start thinking about how to boost your online presence. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new job or not, it’s always good to work on your professional brand, and there are many ways build it online. Here are a few places where you can create content, curate content, or simply contribute to professional conversations that will help you stand out as an expert in your field.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most obvious place to start when thinking about your professional brand, since that’s what the platform is designed for. It goes without saying that you should spend time completing your LinkedIn profile (and if this is something you need to work on, we’re here to help!), but there’s more to LinkedIn than your profile! You can share content that you find interesting, which will give you an opportunity to make smart commentary and stand out on people’s news feeds. If you use the right hashtags, your posts will be discovered by people outside your direct network, and you’ll have a chance to build a following. If you have more to say, you can even consider writing your own articles and publishing them directly on the platform!
Facebook. Because it’s viewed more as a social platform, Facebook is a little bit trickier for building your professional brand. You should definitely keep your profile employer-friendly, but you don't need to mix business and personal life if that's not authentic to your personality. Some people use Facebook primarily to promote their business endeavors, but if you'd rather use it to connect with family and friends, or you'd like to keep your own posts to a minimum and just scroll through other people's feeds, that's totally fine. But outside of your profile/newsfeed, one overlooked -- yet important -- feature of the platform is Facebook Groups. There are tons of industry-focused groups with resources for the job search, navigating work issues, and sharing relevant information. Join some of these groups and participate in conversations. If you’re an active member (and supplying useful information), people will start to recognize your name, which is great for your professional brand.
Twitter. There are many ways you can use Twitter to build your online persona. If you're looking to position yourself as an "expert," share a mixture of content you've created along with articles that other people in your area of the industry would find interesting. You'll want to spend some time engaging in dialogue on the platform, whether it's public or through DMs. There are also Twitter Chats you can join to meet new people and discuss a given topic. These chats are scheduled, so you're conversing with people in a real time, which is a great way to make connections and get new followers. You may even consider live tweeting events. Twitter is also a haven for comedians and writers -- you can use the platform to test jokes, share musings, and develop your voice.
Website. Does everyone need a professional website? No. But for some, it can be a very important platform for marketing yourself. For example, if you’re an artist, a website is a great place to showcase your portfolio (just make sure you’re highlighting quality work -- if you’re featuring low-budget projects from college, they may actually hurt you when looking for a job). If you’re selling a product or services online, you should definitely have a website. And if you work as a freelancer, a website is a good way to control what appears when someone enters your name into a Google search. If you’re keeping a website up to date (and you must!), those who search for you will trust that your website contains the most accurate information about your career and have a way to contact you (or your reps). It also allows you to provide information about upcoming media appearances and speaking engagements, or ways to purchase any books or other work you've produced, if applicable.
Blogs. If you want to become a thought-leader in your field, you need to get your thoughts and opinions out in the world! Blogging is a great way to do this. As we said above, LinkedIn is one place to blog, but you could also try Medium or your own site. Additionally, you can expand your audience by seeking guest blog opportunities with organizations or existing popular blogs that might benefit from your expertise. In particular, getting an article published on a blog from an academic institution will rank high in Google search results, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your alma mater for blogging opportunities. Even if your blog doesn't have a strong following, having a regularly updated blog on your professional website is a way to indicate that your website is current, letting potential employers or clients know that you're still a working expert in your field. It's important to update your blog on a regular schedule to keep your audience engaged, so try to be consistent. And share your blog posts with your social networks, whether on your personal pages or through professional accounts -- most blogs will do this automatically if you don't have the bandwidth to create a fresh, creative post each time.
YouTube/Podcasts. If you're comfortable on camera and/or with the sound of your voice, consider creating a YouTube series or podcast! Make sure you have a professional set-up and the time to generate content regularly. You might consider reaching out to other people with YouTube channels or podcasts to collaborate for a few episodes, so you can reach new audiences. Another way to use YouTube: Showcase your filmmaking work or create a web series!
Your online presence is only one part of your professional brand, but it's a significant factor in attracting attention from hiring managers or potential clients. If you have the time while we're stuck at home, consider what message you want to put out there, get creative, and get to it!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan