In today’s social world, one thing I’m not seeing enough of in Asia Pacific is people investing in their own personal professional profile in social media-land. I certainly have some connections that do a fantastic job at this – consistently focused on building their profile as experts in whatever field they are in – and I hope to be considered amongst this gang in my own personal investment in the medium. However, I have to say, the majority of professionals I know in Asia Pacific do not do a good job here – still approaching social media in voyeuristic fashion. I am curious about this, because why aren’t people taking care of themselves? Are they shy? Don’t know where to start? Overwhelmed? Don’t understand the importance of the investment for their career potential? What is it?
The idea for this blog came to me recently when I was speaking with a lovely young lady who is the daughter of a friend. At 24, she’s incredibly bright and talented, has a very successful career already, and has some big goals and clear ideas she’s working towards. So I said: now is the time to get going on building your professional social media profile – make it known who you are and what you represent in your industry. She responded that she’s already doing social media for her employer, running the Website upgrade project, etc, etc, etc… BUT this wasn’t what I was talking about. I was talking about her, and that has nothing to do with her employer at all. Let’s face it, long term employees are rare these days and employment security more-so.
We’ve all got to take care of ourselves, and in the future, what you do in social media will count a lot. Therefore, for young people just starting out this is a massive opportunity, but it’s equally important for those a little longer in the tooth.
A first step
Do a Google search on yourself – are you on the front page? If you’re not, you need to be, although if you have a name like Dan Brown you might struggle. I appear on the front page, along with an American actress and another lady of the same name who recently killed herself – a sad story. But if I search for Andrea Edwards SAJE or Andrea Edwards content marketing, I own the first page. You’ve got to get to that point, because future employers will search for your presence.
Next divide your presence on social media into professional and personal. Facebook is my personal space, where I connect with people I’m close to. I share anything here because it’s my community and people know me. LinkedIn is totally professional, Google+ is a mish-mash for its SEO, Twitter isn’t my hot spot but I still have three handles, and my Pinterest account is getting more attention, with a SAJE board, as well as lots of other personal boards. As such, if someone wanted to check me out online to “know me” from a professional point of view, it’s all there and it could go for or against me, but being true to myself remains a priority.
It’s definitely important to segment yourself and be conscious of what you share and where you share it – for example it’s not wise to bitch about your boss on LinkedIn, save that for Facebook if you must. Segmenting your personal and professional presence is necessary today – especially if you’re in a conservative industry.
Now you’ve done this, what can you do to build your own professional profile? Easy…
- Launch a blog – I’ve got to start with the obvious because it is so powerful! Blogs are not easy for some, but it is one of the BEST ways to establish yourself as a person of knowledge and worth in your field, whether you’re a musician, scientist, marketer, or brain surgeon – it doesn’t matter. Aim to write something once a week minimum and you can write detailed blogs (like mine typically are), or go for a more Seth Godin short-sweet-sharer-of-wisdom-kind-of-blog. How you blog is up to you and your growth in readers will tell you if you’re getting it right. So what do you share? Well, what do you care about? Get a focus, come up with some content ideas on what you’d like to do and get going. You don’t even need to share your blog straight away if you’re feeling shy. But get going, build your confidence and you’ll have a great career tool behind you I promise. With blogging, remember:
- Create a blog theme on the career path you want to follow, so if that’s not what you’re currently doing, that’s OK – it will help you get on the path you want
- You do have something to say – everyone has something to say – so spend a couple of weeks observing your professional life, your thoughts, your frustrations, when people respond positively to what you say, etc… – this will help you get direction
- Be positive. Criticism can be positioned positively too, but there’s no need to be critical and you won’t succeed if you are
- Unless you’re in a gossip industry – aka Perez Hilton – don’t bother with unnecessary gossip, unless that is the career path you want to take, and if so, gossip away
- Can’t write? Do video logs or VLogs, or take photos and put a couple of sentences under each. If you’re an artist, photograph your art and write a small explanation with the image. A designer the same. Many people are trying to define the blogging “rules,” but think of a blog as your space to share your knowledge in whatever way works for you. Also define the rules yourself, because the reality is, much of what will be possible in the future isn’t even known yet
- Find bloggers in your field and look for inspiration. If there are none, start your own revolution because your “competition” will soon be looking to you for inspiration
I could go on and on, but every professional has something to say – seriously – so create your own online presence and get cracking.
However, blogging is a massive investment in time, thoughts and emotions, which not everyone has the inclination to do, so here’s some easier ways that won’t take as much effort.
- Share knowledge – as a simple rule, follow five great publications or blogs that really resonate with you and every time you read something you agree with, share it on your social media channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, Twitter, etc… If you don’t agree with an opinion, that is equally valid to share, just keep the criticism sweet and explain why you don’t agree – this will gain respect. I follow Hubspot, Content Marketing Institute, Jeff Bullas Blog, Eloqua, and Forbes as a general rule. There are others, but these are my top five that I share on a regular basis. By doing this, I am establishing myself as a B2B content marketing expert. Trust me, if nothing else on this list, you can do this
- Support your mates – one of the most important things you can do to build your profile and lend a helping hand as well, is support your friends who are active on social media – especially bloggers. I wrote a blog about this recently, because business people in Asia Pacific are not as supportive of each other as professionals in other regions, especially North America. There are so many talented people in this region, sharing awesome information, so why not support them and build your profile too? A final important point here – if you help others, they will help you when you go public
- LinkedIn Groups – if you’re like me, you’re probably swamped with LinkedIn Group emails. I find it hard to manage all of them, but my suggestion is target two groups that really hit the spot with you and participate in the discussions. This will help to build your reputation within a targeted community that reflects your career aspirations. Additionally, if there is no relevant group in your sector, why not create one? As a side note: LinkedIn has changed a lot recently, and you can do a lot more now to elevate your own profile and your colleagues. It’s worth investing the time in
- Twitter discussions – I’m not a great Twitter user – it just doesn’t jive with me, but I use it to an extent and know I could use it a lot more. My suggestion is do more than me, join the conversation, and maybe join two Tweetchats a week on a regular basis. Tweetchats are another way to build your profile (and following) within a targeted community
- Google+ chats – the same goes for Google+ chats or “Hangouts” although, again, I am not doing this, but you can’t do everything
- Support your competition – I know right? But this is a really cool thing to do, because let’s face it – it’s all coopetition these days anyway. If someone from a competitor company shares something really terrific, why not praise the content and share it? They could be your boss one day or a future employee on your team
Just a few ideas, but I was inspired to share these thoughts because I don’t think people are taking care of their professional careers in the way they can these days. The reality is, if you don’t do this, others will and when it comes down to the top five candidates for a job, the person who has invested in their personal professional social media profile is going to win, because that’s the world we live in today.
What other suggestions do you have about enhancing your digital professional profile? I’d love to hear some more, because this is only scratching the surface.
And finally, just take care of yourself OK? That’s the main thing I wanted to get across here.