Yup, let’s face it. We’ve all done it. Sussed out that new work contact on LinkedIn or Twitter (maybe Google Circles… or not) and judged them a little.
Unprofessional photo (Wearing tinsel in his hair? Really?!)
Mistakes in the description of the copywriter job she had… wouldn’t recommend her to anyone!
A bio written in overly formal wordy language that screams “I THINK I’M AWESOME!”
Yeah, I do it too.
So, like it or not, given that most people will make snap judgements of you, there are a few basic tenents that can translate into a more favourable initial impression online. My top four recommendations to get it right?
1. The profile picture
No, the one of you holding a glass of bubbly at your cousin’s wedding with your significant other chopped out will not do. Nor the picture from 15 years ago when you still got ID’d for alcohol.
Nothing flash is needed: just a semi-professional (or super-professional, depending on your industry) head shot.
The only people who shouldn’t follow this advice in my opinion are children’s party entertainers and spirit coaches (they can go for something a little kookier).
It kills me how often I see LinkedIn bios with horrendous spelling errors. Just get a friend to read over it. Copy and paste into MS Word and see if anything is underlined red or green. And if it is, fix it.
3. Write in first person
Pop quiz: When someone describes their accomplishments to you at a party, do you sometimes think they come across as a bit of a blow-hard if they speak about themselves in the third person? I certainly do.
Same goes in your social media profiles. You are trying to connect with people, do that by speaking in your own voice, you will come across like a real person and I promise you that is a good thing.
4. Be authentic
Social media is an opportunity for you to make connections with people you might not ordinarily have the opportunity to connect with. It’s a way to tell people a little bit more about yourself and your world in an easily accessible environment.
Use it – but think about how you do it. Just as you are careful with your professional reputation, be careful with your online one. Be yourself, but don’t forget that these are professional mediums. While being true to yourself, your beliefs and your ethics, don’t sell yourself short by endorsing everyone you know for every skill they have listed (can you really endorse Jenny for Strategic Planning if you worked with her at McDonald’s on drive-through when you were teens?).
If you’re going to put your professional persona out online (and I think that is awesome – yay the internet!) just be wary of who is going to read it, and what message you’re sending. Will your future boss, co-worker or client see your online brand as an extension of real-life you? Or are you making choices that could lead to those relationships suffering?