Building your professional online profile

By Denise Donnelly

Social media is an entrenched feature of our personal lives; your social circle will more than likely include (but will not be limited to) a Twitterati, a Facebook creeper, and most definitely an obsessive Instagram-er. We may have grown up with the internet but many of us have failed to utilise it as part of our professional lives. Social media is the rising star of the business world for three very good reasons:

1. Most businesses will have at least one social media page. Social media is a free marketing tool and has a high ROI (return on investment) if used correctly.
2. Social media marketing, management and operations is a huge job sector that is still growing!
3. When you apply for a job there is a good chance that the employer will Google your name and what they find may influence their decision.

You came in like a wrecking ball!
With this is mind you should start building your professional online profile. However, in order to build something amazing you might need to tear down some rubbish like that YouTube channel you made when you were 12 about how much you love cats. More importantly you should set your Facebook profile to private and make sure no incriminating pictures of your night out are available to the public. In this instance I went one step further and changed my second name to the Irish version so that no employer could find me, I’m clever like that. Once you have curbed the damage you did in your tweens you can now begin to rebuild your online self!

Build like Bob
LinkedIn is the best place to start, and it is more than likely that you already have a LinkedIn account that you set-up and was then confined to the online annals of the interwebs! Whether you are a LinkedIn virgin or the owner of a neglected account, this is your chance to start anew. There are roughly three million businesses on LinkedIn and two new users every minute, it is a cornucopia of professionals and job seekers and is your chance to present your skills and experiences is an economical, sleek and professional way.

The set up self explanatory but there are few very important sections of your profile but there is one in particular that you should pay particular attention to. I was always told that the most important part of your CV is the “personal” or “opening” statement, it is designed to engage the employer and sum up your relevant experiences, skills, and attributes. Apply this rule to your summary, only don’t make it too specific, in the first few glances they will want to know the following:

1. What you are currently doing.
2. Your key skills and attributes.
3. What your professional interests are.

My LinkedIn profile is by no means perfect but it might give you an idea of what I mean. However, don’t be afraid to show a bit of personality, you could say how you are fluent in LOLcat and how you run towards fires not away from them!

“Smart phones and social media expand our universe. We can connect with others or collect information easier and faster than ever.” Daniel Goleman

You are now a member of the Twitterati!
I joined Twitter three years ago and called myself after a Game of Thrones character (no I am not telling you which one). I connected with most of my friends and followed all my favourite celebrities. I treated it much like Facebook when it came to the content I would post; mainly cat pictures and quotes. When Restless Development told me that I had earned a place on their Sierra Leone trip I got rid of this account and set up a new one that would serve a much more professional purpose.

Twitter allows you to connect directly with businesses, politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and experts in every field from all over the world. It’s also an arena to showcase your talents for free. If you are relatively new to this side of Twitter then follow the steps below to get yourself off the ground:

1. Identify the sector e.g. communications, marketing, engineering
2. Search for the hashtags relevant to that sector.
3. Identify the key people tweeting about your sector and follow, tweet and retweet them!
4. Acknowledge people who retweet and follow you, it’s polite after all.
5. Start conversations with people about things that you’re interested in (development, food, fashion etc.)
6. Sit back and enjoy the most addictive ROI you will ever experience.

It doesn’t end here
Social media a sphere that specialises in individuality and uniqueness. I do believe that LinkedIn and Twitter are a must but you don’t need to be as active on these pages as I am. The fashion industry has a fantastic presence on Pinterest (a pin board-style photo-sharing website) and amateur and professional photographers share thousands of pictures a day on Instagram (photo editing, sharing app and website).

I have been using social media in this way for almost two years now and most of what I learned was through trial and error. Take some of the platforms for a spin and see if they add anything extra to your professional profile. It can be exhausting and patience is a must but the gains are immeasurable!

Denise is a University of York graduate with a degree in History and Politics. She is looking for a career in communications and PR and is currently Social Media Manager for Radio Coalisland and Head of Social Media for Model Westminster, both voluntary roles!