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5 Steps to Build Your Online Brand

Be honest … Have you ever Googled someone you just met?

Don’t worry, you’re in good company.  In fact, your potential new employer is doing it too!  That’s right, 80% of employers Google a candidate before they invite them to interview.  Think about that for a minute—before they invite them to an interview.  That means qualified candidates are being disqualified every day because of Google search results and their online brand.  Now is the time to take matters into your own hands and build your online brand, so when someone Googles you it doesn’t disqualify you for a job, it makes potential employers pick up the phone and call right away.

1. The Vanity Search. Vanity searching is Googling yourself to see the search results.  The Vanity Search is step one and the most important part of building your online brand.  You want to know exactly what an employer is seeing when they Google your name, so click every link and examine it for potentially damaging information. If there is inaccurate info, contact the site owner and ask for it to be corrected or removed.

2. Keep a low social profile. Set all of your social media profiles, except LinkedIn, to private.  Potential employers don’t need to see your Spring Break photos.  All social media sites have a robust Help section that give detailed instructions on how to set each profile to private.  This will prevent anyone you aren’t friends with, following or connected to from viewing your profile.

Now that we’ve mitigated any potential gotchas, let’s talk about what you can do to set yourself apart in the right way.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile. Is the information accurate and current?  Make sure you have an accurate job description for all positions.  Recommend and endorse colleagues and ask them for recommendations and endorsements in return.  If you get a recommendation that isn’t exactly what you expected, you can hide it from your profile so employers can’t view it.

Choose a great, professional photo.  A good rule of thumb is you should be wearing your standard work attire in your LinkedIn profile, have a pleasant look and the photo should be well lit.  Try and avoid a selfie by having a friend snap a photo against a professional background.  Also, take advantage of the ability to upload multimedia and files.  If you wrote an awesome case study or created a great PowerPoint, attach it to your profile.

4. Create and share content. Here is where most people don’t want to put forth the effort, so it’s a great opportunity to stand out.  Write something about your area of expertise a few times a year.  We’re not talking a novel, half a page to a page is sufficient.  Make sure it’s well thought out, proofread and all your sources are cited.  Then, share your thoughts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform and submit it to industry publications. How fantastic would it look to have your name, photo and a published article show up when your next employer Googles you?

Not a writer? That’s ok, share industry articles you find interesting.  But, it’s not enough to share a link.  Make sure you take the time to write a short sentence or two putting the article into context, telling your connections why you think it’s important, interesting or relevant.

A word of caution, be purposeful in what you share.  Don’t share content unless it’s truly relevant and meaningful, otherwise you’ll be tuned out as white noise.

5.Be social. Connect with the right people online to build your network. Who are the right people?  People you think will advance your career, professional role models, those employed at key positions with companies you’d love to work for, the list is endless.  When you publish and share industry articles your connections will begin to associate your name with industry knowledge and insight.  Then, use those online connections to create real world, professional connections.  Schedule meetings at conferences, grab coffee when you’re in town on business, ask for help if you have a contact with subject matter expertise.  Use the online brand you’re building to leverage real world connections too.

5 simple and easy steps, all of which are designed to make an employer pick up the phone, instead of the trashcan, the next time they’re holding your resume and Googling.

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