5 ways to enhance your online presence

Don't let the word 'branding' scare you. The term has historically been associated with companies, but in today's social savvy world almost every individual has a digital footprint that reflects the value they bring to the world online. It's up to you to manage yours to help position yourself for success as you navigate your career in 2018 and beyond.

Did you know that seventy percent of employers review candidates social media profiles in the hiring process? They are looking for information that supports your qualifications, what other people are saying about you and any photos or commentary that may make you fit or unfit for the job.

Additionally, as an employee or leader, your online presence can help forward your eminence within your current role or promote the initiatives your company strives to share.

With that said, here are five free and easy ways you can enhance your online presence for professional success:

  1. Conduct a personal digital audit: Have you ever Googled your full name? Give it a try and see what appears in the search. Chances are you will find links to your social media profiles, photos and perhaps any old profiles that you created that you may have forgotten exist. Take an inventory of what is showing up online under your name. Make sure you remove anything that does not showcase your capabilities in a positive light. You can then move to delete old photos, close old profiles that you no longer use and update your privacy settings so that you are not as searchable.

  2. Get professional head shots: If you're serious about your success you will want to make sure that you have professional photos that you can use on your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media profiles. It's not enough to have a nice photo from a friend's wedding. You can have a friend take your photo, but you will want to make sure your friend is adept at photography and that you choose a backdrop and lighting that is appropriate for your industry's culture. For example: If you work in finance you will likely want to suite up, however if you're in the technology field chances are you will want to convey a look that more closely matches the industry. A few tips to follow if you're on a budget: 1. Set-up an iPhone tripod and take your own professional photos 2. Consider posting up in a nice co-working space for the day as your photo backdrop 3. Avoid backlighting (bright light behind you during your photo-op).

  3. Create your own personal content strategy: Businesses of all forms today are using content to grow their reach and demonstrate industry authority. Having a content strategy for your area of expertise is equally important. Good content can open the doors to interviews, business collaborations and more clients. It also boosts engagement and awareness. A first step to getting started with your personal content strategy is understanding the audience who will be consuming your content. Consider what your next career move is and who you need to speak with to get there. Then create a set of posts that this audience will enjoy. You can post them to your personal blog or LinkedIn profile blog.

  4. Use stock photography: Stock images are photos that have been taken by professional photographers for brands to use in their marketing. There are many laws around stock photography use and you can be sure that using Google image search to find a photo to use in your own content strategy is a no-no. What you can do is use free stock photo websites like pexels.com or pixaby.com that have been cleared for use by ordinary individuals. I recommend choosing a few brand photos for yourself that you use on your social media profiles in the background space. Keep the photo in this space consistent across your variety of social profiles. You can also use photos from here to add to your social media and blog posts.

  5. Participate in online conversations: If you want to build authority online you are going to need to engage and participate in online conversations. If you're here networking on LinkedIn and someone shares an interesting post related to your area of expertise, consider weighing in with your thoughts in the comments section. You may also consider responding to what someone else had to say in the comments section. This allows you to build new relationships online. If the person likes what you have to say, it's highly likely they will follow or add you to their social circle.

Meagan Dobson