While social media is becoming an integral part of the job search process, it’s a good idea to build a positive online presence before your next job search. The right social media strategy could lead to valuable networking opportunities, speaking engagements, or a place among industry thought leaders. We’ve taken you through the basics of creating professional-looking profiles and making connections with others in your industry, but what happens once you’ve filled in your employment history and sent those connection requests? Here’s how to build (and maintain) a stellar reputation online.
Build your personal brand
We mentioned in our networking article that adding a personal touch to your social media profiles will make others more likely to engage with you, but how exactly can you let your style and personality shine through? First, think about your in-person management style, or if you’re not in a managing role, your general tone and approach to work. If you’re known as the team player who can always motivate others, then an inspirational approach will work best for you. On the other hand, if you’re known to ask the tough questions, then perhaps you’ll position yourself as someone who dispels common misconceptions and adds a dose of healthy skepticism to online conversations. Then, Inc.com suggests choosing a specific niche within your industry and positioning yourself as an expert. Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks are full of industry veterans and novices alike, all sharing their thoughts and opinions - to set yourself apart, choose an angle of the conversation that not many others are tackling. If you’re having trouble determining what your niche should be, ask yourself which aspects of your work tend to garner the most compliments. Is there anything you do better than anyone else on your team? Answering these questions will help you find your niche.
Once you’ve figured out your basic approach, it’s time to draft a short, catchy summary statement that can be used for your LinkedIn headline and Twitter bio. The social media management experts at Buffer offer two approaches to the summary statement: the keyword headline and the power statement headline. The keyword headline contains a few phrases that describe different aspects of your skill and personality, whereas the power statement closely resembles an “elevator pitch” or objective statement. Whichever format you choose, ask yourself what you want to come to mind when people think of you, and write a summary statement to match.
While you’re adding your summary statement to your various social media profiles, take some time to build cohesion across platforms. Social Media Examiner points out that, just as a company would use similar color schemes, fonts, and imagery for all of their social media profiles, individuals should create a consistent look for their web presence. Facebook and Twitter both allow for a “cover photo” or “header photo,” and using the same image (or images with the same colors) can help potential followers identify you if they wish to connect with you on a new platform.
While participating in LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats is a great way to interact with others, it’s important to post regularly to your own profile. Try mixing things up with interesting quotes, case studies, and articles combined with blog posts or white papers that you have written. According to Buffer, you should post daily to one or two social profiles in order to maximize engagement, and some platforms require more than daily posting. For example, Buffer says Facebook users should plan to post twice a day and Twitter users should be tweeting up to 5 times per day. If this seems like a big commitment, there are ways to make it easier on yourself. Many people plan ahead, scheduling posts with tools like Buffer or Hootsuite. If you plan one or two posts for each day of the week, you can supplement that throughout the week with links to breaking news, thoughts that occur to you, and responses to what other people are talking about in the moment.
When you’re deciding on links to share or original content to develop, think about how you can create value for your followers. Instead of sharing random thoughts and links, you want to appeal to your readers and start conversations. If your audience can learn something from your post, or if they find it relevant and entertaining, you’ve shared something of value to them. If you’re in need of ideas for content, try asking for advice, or soliciting opinions on topics relevant to your industry. Perhaps one of the responses you get will serve as a jumping-off point for your next blog post.
Grow your network
Once you’ve started regularly posting quality content, it’s time to position yourself among industry experts and thought leaders. Take the time to reply to people who engage with your tweets or posts, and comment on posts by influencers with questions or insights. Once you’ve built up a friendly rapport with someone, consider asking them to partner up with you, whether it’s through guest blog posts, co-hosting a Twitter chat, or anything else that will be mutually beneficial. Once you’ve built a solid archive of content, you can use this to pitch industry blogs, magazines, and other publications to extend your reach even beyond the social media world.
If you’re published elsewhere, you can - and should - share the link with your followers. Just make sure not to turn your social media presence into once that’s entirely self-promotional. The 80/20 rule will help you achieve a balanced approach: if 80% of your content is valuable or helpful to your audience, you’re fine to self-promote 20% of the time. Inc.com says you shouldn’t be afraid to re-use content every once in a while; if done sparingly, this could be helpful to new followers and lessen the amount of time you spend generating ideas. You can also post similar content across platforms - Social Media Examiner suggests making changes to the timing, wording, and visuals to suit each medium.
Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for building and maintaining your professional reputation. Ultimately, what will matter most for building your online presence is consistency. The look and feel of your profiles will help others find you across platforms, your tone and approach will help you attract your audience, and posting regularly will prompt people to connect with and interact with you, and perhaps even help you secure your dream job.