How to Create and Manage Your Online Brand Effectively
Your professional brand is the overall impression people have of you as an IT professional. What your brand says about you to prospective employers, contacts on your network, and others in the industry can help advance your career objectives or come in the way.
Your brand can influence hiring managers to call you for an interview — or decline your application. A distinct and interesting brand can help you stand out from other applicants.
The digital world has made it possible for everyone to be visible. Many employers expect candidates to have an online professional brand. In a scenario where most of your peers are seen online with each one’s distinct set of qualifications, skills, experience, and goals, you wouldn’t want to be invisible.
A carefully cultivated online brand is helpful whether you want to grow in your current career or change careers. In both instances, hiring managers would like to know about your reputation and personality.
Within your field, potential employers would be interested in your expertise, strengths, advanced qualifications, and unique qualities. If you’re planning a switch to a different area or industry, recruiters would look to identify transferable skills and experience.
Where do you start? While many understand the importance of creating and maintaining a professional brand, where and how to begin might appear confusing to some. There’s no hard and fast rule here.
It’s normally good to start with an account on a platform that people you want to connect with already use.
Know Your Online Presence
You need to know how your brand appears to others. Search online for your name. If you already have a LinkedIn account, a Twitter handle, or other social media accounts, these should appear in the search results. Do they show up at the top of the page?
If you have a blog or website, these will probably show up as well. Look at such results with a critical eye: How do the things you have written or posted online reflect on your personal and professional character?
Take a look at each of your online accounts to get an idea of the impression others would get when they view your profile. All you have to do is click through to the results of your Internet search.
What you see is what prospective employers and others would see. It’s important that whatever profile you have states all of your academic and professional qualifications. Any prospective employer should be able to tell at a glance what companies you have worked with, as well as the duration of your tenure, type of experience, and achievements at each of those organizations.
Your role and responsibilities at your current place of work should also be readily discernible.
Key Social Media Platforms
LinkedIn — LinkedIn is the most popular professional platform online. Everyone you would want to reach in your industry is likely on LinkedIn. When you write your profile summary and job description, remember to include industry-relevant skills because hiring managers and recruiters might search for keywords that fit the role they need candidates for.
Twitter — Twitter is a microblogging and social networking site that some IT professionals use to share industry-relevant content, follow leaders in their field, learn and gain insights.
Your Blog or Website
A blog is an effective means of sharing in-depth knowledge in your area of expertise as well as insights pertaining to technology and industry trends. If you have valuable information and original thoughts and experiences to contribute, a blog might be a good format to add to your personal branding toolkit.
This presents a great opportunity to engage with peers and seniors in your specialization or industry, if you can create meaningful content fairly regularly. As with other online tools, a blog has the potential to enhance your brand if you attend to it frequently.
Professionals who might find blogging helpful and stimulating include developers, cybersecurity pros, tech content writers, and marketers, to name a few.
It’s important to have a personal website or portfolio if you work in design, video animation, or marketing. A website offers the opportunity for visual presentation of one’s work. Uploading graphics and videos is a good way of showing prospective employers or clients one’s talent and production skills.
Which Tools Are Right for You?
Using the right branding tools is a key aspect of creating an effective online brand. You need to identify the platforms that are popular with your target audience.
LinkedIn is the preferred professional social media site for corporate employees, including tech workers. IT professionals looking to build their online brand would do well to have a complete profile on LinkedIn. Surveys show that a high percentage of recruiters scout for highly-skilled candidates on LinkedIn.
Twitter is helpful for IT pros that wish to expand their reach within their industry, follow and learn from thought leaders in their business, and accentuate relevant expertise.
Reddit is used by some IT professionals for discussions on topics in their discipline. You can post content, interact with others on comment threads, and get to know about recent developments in your field or any topic that interests you. Communities of people in the same profession or with an interest in any given topic are known as subreddits.
A portfolio or personal website is suitable for design and marketing professionals, and content creators. Text or video is one of the most powerful means of highlighting your experience and capabilities. If you can write fluently on topics in your field, then a blog is good to have as part of your branding suite.
Keeping IT Current
There are no short cuts to building a strong brand. It takes time and dedication. You need to attend to your online image regularly. Any professional event, such as moving to another company, a role change, promotion, award, or completion of a professional course should be added to your profile.
Keep in touch with your contacts via e-mail or responses to posts. When people contact you directly, respond to them courteously and promptly. Whatever platforms you use to comment on your profession, post relevant content — frequently if possible.
Steer Clear of the Following
Every company has its own culture. In order to figure out whether a certain candidate would be the right fit for the company culture, prospective employers view social media posts among other things. So, it’s important to project a professional and authentic image.
Posting anything that’s very personal is not advisable. Do not post any personal details, photos, or experiences that you don’t wish to make public. It’s prudent to stay away from political, religious, or controversial topics on your professional accounts. If you volunteer or play a sport or pursue a hobby, then it’s fine to post about that.
As well as paying attention to what you say about your own life and actions, be sure to moderate what you say or post in response to others. Toxic comments trashing individuals or groups are inappropriate on professional as well as personal accounts.
Professional vs. Personal
Most wouldn’t want employers or clients to see everything they discuss with friends or family. For example, it’s best to post photos of yourself at a bar, or on the beach, only on your personal social media accounts. Similarly, not all jokes and memes would be appropriate on your professional accounts.
You can use privacy settings to ensure that only people you choose can view certain posts. Buffer is a website that enables you to organize your social media posts across different platforms. Social media management tools can help you keep track of your online presence and manage it accordingly.