Whether you are a banker, barrister or barista, you need to network and create influence via the internet, and that’s why you need a solid online presence. In this digital age, without a solid online presence, you will struggle to remain visible and connected.
It is a continuous process that takes time and dedication, and for some people, it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why I wrote this post. Use the following 6 steps as a guide to start building your own solid, online presence.
ONE: Stop and Think about your online presence
If you are a millennial, you never really had to think about your digital footprint. You just started walking around online and now you have a trail of tagged photos, tweets, High school pictures, abusive comments, etc, behind you. You probably can’t remember the date you created your Facebook account. Now, you need to think about it. Not in an overly serious way, you only need to ask yourself:
- Who am I?
- What do I want my audience to know about me?
- What story is currently out there about me?
When people search for you online, they want to understand who you are, what you do, your values and point of view. They want to find out if they like you. Your digital footprint should answer those questions. It should contain your point of view and your thoughts about the topics your audience cares about. It should contain examples that show us who you are when you are not working - your real self. You’ll be surprised that posting a picture of your garden will endear potential clients who love flowers to you. You don’t have to bore everyone with the same information across all your channels, but bear in mind that your bio, work portfolio, expertise and humanity should shine through. Your digital footprint is your business card. Check that everything is relevant and up-to-date. Google your name to see if the search results represent who you want to be seen as. Check that what you want your business card to be, is reflected in what people find when they look you up. Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. Determine what success means to you, and let’s head out to step two.
TWO: Create a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is not just a social networking platform. It’s a resume builder and one of the best ways to become discoverable online. My maiden name was quite popular but when you did a Google Search of that name, I always came out first and guess what was showing up there? Yes, my LinkedIn profile. Also, two recruiters for reputable companies found me on LinkedIn and invited me for an interview. I honored only one of the invites — because the other did not suit me — and I got the job, but you get my point. It is one of the best ways to connect with people in your industry or fields you are interested in. It is also a great site for professional learning. Create your LinkedIn account, and take time to build a detailed profile. This takes time, so there’s no rush. But create the account first.
THREE: Create (Or Use Current) Social Media Accounts with care
Social Media has changed the world in many ways. I like to think of it as a bridge that gives me access to people, stories, and organizations that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. Social media has given me a platform for building a personal brand, access to thought leaders, real time information, income opportunities, and ability to build a global network of like minds. So, yes. I’m an advocate for the use of social media. However, I also recommend that you use it with care. With Social Media, more of your personal life is out there for people to see. Think twice before you post, be in control of your content, and update your security settings often. Create Social Media Accounts that suit your needs (two or three should do, for now). Make sure your ‘About/Bio’ tabs are aligned and on point. Start a conversation, Join a conversation- whatever you want.
FOUR: Create a Blog or Website
This one is not for everyone, but I want to talk about it because most people that do not have blogs or websites are held back by fear. If you are a Freelancer or Creative, you need a website to showcase your portfolio and establish credibility as a real business. Alternatively, head over to About.me to create your own personalized webpage. If you are a Thought leader, Visionary or Change-maker, you need a blog/website to share your perspective with the world, invest in the successes of others, and a foundation for sharing your story with the world. Some people argue that Social media can do this for you but my question is ‘do you remember My Space, Hi 5?’ What if Facebook decides to pack its bags today? Not likely, I know. But hey, never say never. That being said, if you are scared of the cost or skill required, fear not. Things are a lot easier these days. Platforms like WordPress allow you to easily create attractive and responsive blogs and sites that can be customized in endless amount of ways - it’s Easy and Free. I should know, since I built my first WordPress blog without any prior experience. So, if you will get out of your own way, and just start, I stumbled on a very valuable resource to guide you through the process, step by step from beginning to end.
FIVE: Look out the window
In case you did not get the memo, the world is flat and we are all very interconnected now. The digital space is really just a room and parlor. You can no longer claim to be minding your own business and keep to yourself. Once you have your online profiles and/or websites in place, it’s time to look out the window and check out what’s happening in your niche and industry. One of the most important steps to strategically engage online is to listen first. Research trends, influencers you respect and want to be associated with. Follow/Like their profiles. Watch and learn from what they are doing. Find out what’s going on with your E-neighbors. Look out for other people that are just like you.These are your people, your tribe also known as your target audience. They are the ones that will get what you are saying; the people that need what you have to offer. In no time, you’ll figure out the hot topics, what to say and how to say it.
Side Note: Your digital footprint is not a prospectus. It is the summary of your humanity. Make friends and post great content that your friends will find informative, inspiring or entertaining at least. Serve your audience a rich mix of curated (other people’s posts that you like or agree with) and original content. Remember step one and let it be your guide to engaging in a way that you’ll be proud of yourself.
SIX: Rinse and Repeat the steps above. Consistently
Creating a Facebook account is not enough to build a relevant digital footprint. I know you’ll be busy sometimes, but you need to find time to be persistent. If you need ideas for what to do/say on Social Media, read this. Social Media is a tool. Don’t be a bench warmer in the digital space. Update your profile when necessary — I bet you won’t like to give anyone a CV that has not been touched since 2012. Write new posts often as you can. If you choose to upgrade to a business account, you can take advantage of Insights already embedded in the business version of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can even use scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule your posts in advance. Test them out and see what works.
I know you are busy, but all the work and goals you are busy with, can be jeopardized by what people find about you online. A strong digital footprint is no longer a nice-to-have; It’s a must-have. Potential clients, donors, investors and spouses will look you up online whenever they want to know more about you and what you do.
Hope this helped you relieve the stress of interacting online.
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