Social Media for your Career Branding

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Build your online professional brand. This introduction is for people new to the social media arena and gives an overview of platforms you can use to promote your 'professional self'.



Social Media for Your Career

Build Your Online Professional Brand

Networking is Critical

Social networking has been part of our lives for millennia. When we meet someone new, we seek to make connections; who we know, that they know; where theyre from, where they work, what they do, which clan they spring from, what team they follow, which club theyre involved with ....

Social Media is no different. Its merely an online tool that supports and reflects our real lives, our personal and professional connections.

There are a myriad of Social Networking sites; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and many more besides. Here we focus primarily on LinkedIn with some reference to other online resources that can support your career and business goals.

Many jobs are filled without ever having been advertised. Employers are increasingly using social networking sites to attract and recruit candidates and to accept applications for employment. So you need to be active and visible in this space!

Personal and third party referrals have always been important for business and the self-employed. Satisfied and delighted customers are only too happy to let others know how great you are. You need to be online and networked to capitalise on all those recommendations.

This short guide is intended as an introduction to Building an Online Professional Brand using some of the many available social media platforms.

If youd like assistance developing your online business and professional brand wed be delighted to talk it over with you.

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The Importance of Your LinkedIn Profile

Your profile is what you use to connect with people, its how potential employers or clients will find you. Your LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility online and help you build your Professional Brand. For example, if you google Stephanie OBoyle, my linkedIn profile comes up as #1 on the search find. It doesnt in different geo-locations but thats for another day! So, if a potential client or employer is searching for information, I better have the right material available at a glance!

It's important to ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete. Consider your LinkedIn profile your online CV. While it doesnt have to replicate exactly the same information as your CV, be vigilant that it complements and endorses it. Prospective employers will use it to review your credentials; employment, qualifications, experience, and skills.

If youre self-employed, your LinkedIn profile needs to summarise what you do, the services you offer and how, what you do, solves customer problems. Potential clients may check you out to review you in the same way employers review potential candidates. You are less likely to need to upload a CV but, demonstrating a history of good practice, reliability and professional integrity will form part of your profile.

How to Use Your LinkedIn Profile as a Job Search Tool

Create a Profile. Create a detailed profile on LinkedIn, including employment (current and past), education and industry. Review your CV and copy/paste the relevant information into your profile. If currently unemployed list your current position as "Open to opportunities." You can also upload your CV and edit from there.

Add a Photo. A headshot is recommended (or upload a larger photo and edit) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that it must be a small photo - no larger than 80x80 pixels. Everyone will see this, so choose wisely! Profiles with photos look so much better than those without.

Professional Summary The Professional Summary of your profile is a good way to highlight your experience. Select an Industry, because recruiters often use that field to search. Don't forget the Headline, that's right at the top of the page when someone views your profile. This space is especially important for freelancers, independents and consultants.

Keywords and Skills Include all the keywords and skills from your CV in your profile. That will make it easier for your profile to be found in search results.

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Contact Settings let your connections (and recruiters) know what you're available for. Options include: career opportunities, consulting offers, new ventures, job enquiries, reference requests. Even if you're not actively seeking a new job, it's beneficial to be flexible about your interests, because you never know when a good opportunity might come along.

Links The links section of your profile is a good way to provide even more information to potential employers and to your contacts. Consider links to your company or personal website and blog.

Public Profile URL. Don't forget to make your profile public - that's how the world can find it. Also, customizing your URL will give you a link that's easy to share. Mine, for example, is

Create a Signature. Create a LinkedIn signature to use in your email. That's another way to increase the visibility of your profile.

Update Your Profile. Don't forget to update your profile when you change positions or companies. Your profile should always be current and up-to-date.

Grow Your Network. Connect with other members and build your network. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have. However a word to the wise, don't randomly connect with people you don't know. All that does is annoy them and give you a bad rating on linkedIn if connect requests are being ignored! It is much better to have a smaller group of people who know you, rather than 500+ connections, most of whom have barely shaken your hand.

Get Recommendations. To a potential employers and clients, a LinkedIn recommendation is a reference in advance.

Use LinkedIn as part of your job search strategy - it will help expedite your job search.

Businesses and the self-employed should use LinkedIn as part of your client search strategy. Connect with your existing and previous clients and customers, build your profile until its got quality information about you, your services or products and what you can offer potential customers.

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Personal vs. Professional Branding

Is there a difference between personal and professional branding? Maybe, maybe not! One thing is for sure, its especially important in certain professions. Theres a growing trend to improve personal branding.

When you consider the change in employment globally, the shift in the nature and tenure of corporate jobs. For every 100 people involved in the corporate world only 20 are considered to be core to the company. The rest are contractors, sub-contractors, temporary or part - time. The idea of a job for life is well and truly over.

Its little wonder theres a growing trend to improve personal branding. Investing resources and effort in creating a professional brand, is time well spent irrespective of the area in which you work. It is however, especially important for designers, consultants and anyone who works as an independent, freelance provider. Potential employers and clients will look for professional credibility. So your personal brand matters. Make sure your personal brand reflects who are as a person. It's also worth making sure that the information available about you online is visible, available, and relevant, to where you are in your career and, where you want to go next.

Check Your Brand

What type of branding do you have? There's an easy way to check what image you are showing to the world. Google your name and see what shows up.

The first places to start are in creating a strong LinkedIn Profile, Twitter Profile, and Blog; include a link to your business or personal website, any articles youve written, or have been written about you, exhibitions in which youve been involved etc. is a useful personal website space where you can create an online presence and connect with others. If youve footage of a great speech or presentation relevant to your profession, its not breaking confidentiality and you own the rights, consider putting it on youtube. Do you have material thats worth sharing on slideshare?

This is the type of information you want a prospective client or employer to find. You don't want to advertise the blast you had at the last reunion, or the craic in your favourite bar or club, to anyone who might be in a position to hire you, or recommend you for a job.

Craic an Irish term used to describe: .... good times, fun, enjoyment, devilment. Completely normal behaviour by the way, but generally you dont want a potential employer, your customers or clients to see it. Even if they were involved, better to private message rather than broadcast!

Keep Your Personal Life Private

You can have personal information on the web. Just make sure that it's only available to the people you want to see it. Be careful what you write on your blog, other people's blogs or social networking pages. Don't let the whole world see personal information

How to Build Your Professional Brand

Once you've made sure that your personal information is only viewable to people you want to see it, start building your professional brand. This will serve a couple of purposes. In addition to being information that showcases your talents for potential clients or employers, it's also information that, if created properly, will bump the not-so-good stuff down the list in Google. That way, any prospective customer or employer who Googles you, should see what you want them to see, your professional branding, and not those suspect photos from that holiday to the Greek Isles!

Professional Branding Tools

LinkedIn - Create a LinkedIn profile and start connecting. Ask and answer LinkedIn questions to increase your visibility.

Visual CV Create a VisualCV to share with contacts and prospective employers. Its worth saying that Ive never yet met an employer who actively seeks an online CV in the wide open space, however, if youre in the design game its certainly worth considering.

Write a Blog - A well-written blog focused on your area of expertise is another good addition to your professional branding package.

Create a Presence - Comment on other people's blogs, write some articles, go to industry meetings, conventions, and events, and make contacts in your field. Be sure that all your engagements are focused and relevant to both your skills and your career goals.

Build a Web Site - Consider a web site to create and showcase your brand. Many web hosting services have built in web building tools and it's quick and easy to build a site that reflects your professional presence.

Get Your Name Out There - Try to meet, either online or in-person, the important people in your field. Send them an email or a message via their web site or networking profile.

Volunteer - If you have time and if there's a way to volunteer in a capacity where you can use your skills and expertise, its another way to gain exposure as an expert in your career field. And, it adds to your

CV, in a meaningful way whilst giving something valuable to your local community.

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A Few Last Words

Your personal brand is really a combination of the way in which you describe yourself to others. And, when theyre talking about you, (and they do!), how they describe you. Your personal and professional brand includes your online presence, the content you create, the way you dress, your accent, what you drive (if you drive), your interests, your reputation at work, and so on.

Youre way more interesting than just what you do and your personal brand needs to reflect this. So your online presence needs to communicate something real about you, not something boring or flat.

Keep It Simple

Keep the language simple, no jargon. No showing off; as anyone under the age of ten will tell you, self praise is no praise! Let your customers or previous employers do the talking here!

Just tell your story. Use the first person, and write a paragraph or two that explains where you came from and what you care about.

Skip the jargon and sound like a real person. Write about yourself without buzzwords, without praising yourself, and without reducing yourself to a bundle of disconnected skills and competencies.

Brand yourself as a real person with a point of view, history and a personality. Write your story and then refine it to a summary that anyone can relate to.

Thats your personal brand!

And Finally,

Dont let it slide. This isn't a one shot deal. It takes time to build a solid presence and should be an ongoing endeavour. Keep your profiles up-to-date, build and maintain your network as you accrue experience, knowledge and skills.

Have a fruitful, enjoyable and interesting career.

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In addition to her consulting work, Stephanie teaches and speaks on issues that are important to enterprises . She delivers personalised, interactive sessions at conferences, business meet-ups and network events.

Her involvement in education and training is online and she can also be found in lecture theatres and classroom with the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Stephanieholds a Masters Degree in Business (MBA), a Post Graduate in Marketing, Professional Diploma in Management and a Degree in Mathematics, Sociological and Political Studies from NUI Galway.

Her otherpassions include family, rugby and festival race meetings. Shes a sudoku junkie and a keen, but appalling , golfer!

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