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Another Note on Online Branding

With everything that’s been going on in my search for employment by the end of my last term at the University of Oregon in one of the worst economies in the last few decades, I can’t say enough about the importance of a personal brand online. I know that last week I gave 5 top tips for getting started, but I had a chance to think about it and have decided that I should give 5 more, in case some of you are skeptical about the need for an online resume when you just finished printing off 10 copies of a paper one.

Aside from the amount of time that having a profile on linkedin or visualcv.com can save you when figuring out the best way to drive potential employers to your experience, these platforms are the networking parties and chamber’s of commerce meetings of the future. I’ve been to a few networking events and have spent hours of my time talking to people who were interesting, but not necessarily in a position to hire me at their company. Online branding focuses your message and experience and can help put you in direct contact with people who have the power to provide you with the opportunities that you are looking for to advance your career. The process of searching for jobs and getting contact information for staff in the human resources department used to be a process that could take days if not weeks. Now, with sites like linkedin, the process takes a matter of minutes, which give the person searching for jobs time to explore every possible opportunity.

Rounding up precious letters of recommendation and mailing them to potential employers after initiating a conversation by mailing in a resume is now as quick as posting a link to your linkedin profile in an email and attaching a cover letter.

Most importantly, online profiles are free advertising; they are working for you to seek out opportunities and helping potential employers locate you as a candidate for positions inside their company. I was talking to a friend who recently graduated from a college in the Portland area this past spring. He was in the process of settling for a job in retail management when a recruiter contacted him about a job as a business analyst based on a profile that he posted a week before on Monster.com. Without the online profile, this friend would be working in a job that he didn’t enjoy making a fraction of what he is making now. Still a pessimist? Combine these tips inspired by Lynn Altman’s Brand It Yourself with the previous 5 and see what opportunities come your way!

#6 – Protect Your Image

I can’t stress this point enough: if you lose control of your message, you lose control of your brand. If you are posting personal information on your professional profile, it could hurt your image in the eyes of employers. It’s also a lot harder to take back what you say in social media. In person you can apologize of you make a mistake and say something inappropriate. The second you post something online, it’s there forever, floating around like digital trash waiting to be plucked out of the universe later on. Don’t say something that might come back to haunt you later (the same message applies to photos. See picture below for an example). I often times find myself getting really worked up about things that I read or take in during my daily social media and internet searches, but if I posted a comment on everything negative thing that I saw during the day, people might think that I was just a grumpy person, and how many people want to surround themselves or hire grumpy people? On the other hand, avoid being too positive: it’s creepy and annoying.

#7 Provide value to your audience

“No one cares what you ate for lunch” is the first line on the first page of the social media Bible. Part of establishing an online identity is providing value to your audience. With tools like twitter, it is especially important to provide valuable information if you want to increase your followers and be seen as a resource or a thought leader in your online community. Instead of saying that you had a tasty ham sandwich for lunch, give the name of the café that you picked it up from, add a link to their website and add a hashtag like #eugenefood. Now that’s interesting!

#8 Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by social media. It’s okay to step away from the computer for a couple days sometimes when you get to the point where your brain feels saturated with social media information. I sometimes find that when I get too worked up or caught up in my social media life, my real social life tends to suffer. After all, if you don’t have a life outside of social media, it’s difficult to communicate your brand. Feed off of your experiences in real life. Tell a story on a blog about something that happened to you that day, or share something that you learned in a class or at work that might help someone else out. The last thing you want to do is get so overwhelmed and worked up that you drop social media completely.

#9 Network: Pursue Your Audience

In life, some opportunities might find you, but for the most part, you will spend a large chunk of your time chasing them. The more you network through social media, the higher the chances are that you will break into the “doer and mover” networks and, as my mom used to say “soar with the eagles instead of waddling with the ducks.” The basics of networking haven’t changed, but the tools have. Instead of meeting at the country club or attending weekly chamber of commerce meetings, young professionals are now reaching the same audiences using twitter, or linkedin. You might even find that the more you look around the more you will stumble upon new or interesting networks. Get online, stumble around and you will eventually find an audience or a group of peers that share like interests. On twitter, focus your posts so that they are all related to a certain subject. This way people will be able to figure out what you are interested in seconds, and if they share your interests, bam! You just got another follower!

#10 Take A Photo

What’s more important to you online image   than an actual image? Find a picture that represents who you are and what you want to show the world. Look for a picture that    can be used on all of your profiles to stay      consistent. In my opinion, the photo is the most important piece of the puzzle. If you want to change your profile picture on Facebook, it okay, because Facebook is a casual communication tool and people often choose pictures that are directly related to their hobbies, like motorcycles, or dancing.

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