Thursday, July 19, 2018

Does your Digital Footprint Display Your Personal Best?

Your digital footprint and social media profile is the often first impression a person makes about you. It is built online and the best way to check that online presence is to google yourself. Did you just do that? What comes up?

Once a first impression is formed it can be hard to change. Yes, it could be through your appearance, behaviour or communication which has been the focus of my blogs over the past few weeks. Your ABC’s. Increasingly it is now about the D – your digital footprint.

When people meet you for the first time it might not be the same as what they think from viewing you online. They will most likely believe the online version. For better or for worse.

Some people paint an unrealistic image of who they really are with carefully crafted social personas. Others don’t give it much thought and perhaps an unwanted presence is displayed. If you think about it, when someone googles you they are evaluating you.

So you need to align your real world brand with your virtual brand. The first thing you need to consider – is what is it about you or your personal or business brand that you want to say?  Your online presence reflects who you are; your values, beliefs, ambitions and the business culture you are in. Search yourself and make sure your online image reflects what you want it to.

No doubt you have done some online research about another person before a meeting or going for a job interview. Of course, they are doing the same to you. They may want to hire you for a project, join their board, be on a panel session, or give a speech.

They will look at your LinkedIn page, check out your website if you have one and look to see what kind of posts you make on Facebook.

When I was going for a corporate account a while ago, I googled everything about the CEO such as images and news stories, so I could find out about the person. Not just what was on the company website and company profile, but I did the background research about who that person was.

I also wanted a visual image in my mind – so it felt familiar – not just going in to a meeting cold. Some of the character of that person came through and I felt a bit more relaxed and gained further insight into whether I could or wanted to work with this person.

Not everyone has a strong digital footprint but it is good to be aware of what is out there. It is important to check what others are posting about you, check photos and tags and always approve posts before they appear randomly online.

If you do have a Facebook personal page, ensure you have your privacy settings on so you are not sharing publicly. Keep private posts for family and friends. But do keep it professional and sensible as those Saturday night party snaps of you having a few (too many) drinks could be around a long time.

Anything you post (and are tagged in) on social media reflects your brand image. You want to share your personality but the positive side of you.

For most professionals working in a business environment and for emerging and established business leaders, LinkedIn is the “go to” social media channel of choice. Your LinkedIn profile is where the professional you is showcased.

The first impression you make needs to be positive and a professional head shot is a major requirement. If someone sends me a LinkedIn invitation and they don’t have a photo – I ignore it. Likewise, a picture of a person on a promo stand sandwiched between two bikini models is most unlikely to get any attention from me. Not that I have anything against bikini models, I was once one myself!

If you are posting or sharing articles on LinkedIn keep it on point and on brand. Keep it all professional.

Pay close attention to your headline. Say what you do. Use four to six words which sum up your unique expertise. Also, be clear and compelling with your summary and expertise.

I go into much more detail about LinkedIn and all social media channels to help you build your personal brand in my book IMPRESSario. Find out more here.

You can also download my free video series, your NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

Image courtesy Shutterstock

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