When you send your resume to a hiring manager, meet someone new at a party, or add a friend on Facebook, he or she may connect you to Google. Are you confident that they will love what they see?
You do not have to make a living as an influencer or blogger to worry about your online presence. Even if you do not use the Internet at all in your professional life, it may be useful to think about what your online life says about you. And if you use the Web professionally, a well-designed online presence can open new perspectives for your career.
But if you're like most people, you've probably spent years posting things online without worrying too much about how they fit you. That means you have to make some adjustments so that you can be proud of what people see when they look at you. You do not know where to start? Here is what you need to know.
Consider your brand
Before you tackle this project, you may want to spend some time define your personal brand. Even if you do not decide to create a complete and carefully defined personal brand, think about it. This will help you know how to change your online presence and reflect more accurately. You will also find that some of the steps listed here overlap with those required to create a personal brand.
Inventory your presence online
Now it's time to make a list of everything that concerns you online. This includes all your social media sites, e-mail addresses, websites or portfolios online, mentions of you in publications or articles belonging to other people, etc.
More importantly, you'll need to focus on refining everything that bears your name, because most people will search for you through Google. (Be sure to Google yourself as part of this step.) However, keep in mind that even items published under a pseudonym or a private account can often be found with a slight loss online. Ask yourself if these things will reflect you if someone really links them to you.
If you have accounts and professional and personal sites, you can divide this inventory into two lists. Although you want to clean the elements of both lists, you can start with the professionals. But do not forget that your personal and professional online life can easily overlap as well.
Define your goals
This is the perfect time to determine the goals you want your online presence to help you achieve. For example, do you expect to have new customers for your business? To meet new potential friends? To develop a list of professional relationships? Deciding what you want your online presence to help you do can determine how you choose to refine it.
Make a plan
With your goals in mind, you can plan how to modify everything you have listed in your inventory.
You should have a different plan for each site and profile. For example, you may be hoping to establish yourself as a travel writer. As part of your plan, you can edit your LinkedIn profile to reflect any relevant travel writing experience. You can also delete your old Instagram account and create a new one focused on travel, or target 100 new Twitter subscribers over the next month with messages related to travel.
Everyone's plans will be different. Your plan may involve deleting old accounts, updating your biography, creating new e-mail signatures, or posting your latest work. This could even include the publication of many new content to "bury" a negative mention of you in an old article online. Anyway, the goal is to have everything online that best reflects you by the time you finish these steps. It's also helpful to work on one site at a time, starting with the ones you use the most – or the ones that are most relevant to your career.
During or after these changes, ask a few friends or colleagues to share your thoughts. Ask them to do a Google search and tell you what they find and what they think. Or have them review the specific sites you have questions about. You may have a clear idea of what you want your online presence to say about you. However, you can not be sure that this message will be transmitted until you have heard how it is transmitted to others.
Develop a maintenance plan
Once you have refined your online presence and cleaned up old and irrelevant content, you must move on to maintenance work. It is useful to define a second plan now so that your online presence remains relevant and faithful to you.
For example, you might decide to post once a week on Twitter and every other day on Instagram, to make sure you keep new content relevant to your followers. You can also consider reviewing your portfolio online once a month and updating it with your latest work.
The right maintenance plan for you will depend on your goals and your usual Internet activity. If you use social media casually to keep in touch with your friends, you may not need a strict and organized plan. But if you use it to find new customers, you need to approach your online presence as seriously as if it were part of your daily job.
There are also many tools to help you follow this plan. For example, you can use a platform like Hootsuite to schedule your posts on social networks even when you are not on your devices. Or you can define a Google Alert for the name of your company, so that you know whenever it is mentioned online.
Cleaning up your online presence may not be the most fun or glamorous task. But this can be extremely helpful in developing your career and giving you new opportunities to network. When you have an online presence you can be proud of, you will never be worried about the prospect of seeing someone googling your name – and that alone can make the job interesting.