How your professional life should be online
This blog first appeared in LinkedIn as part of their Student Voices series on May 26th, 2015: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-your-professional-life-should-online-josuel-plasencia.
Last week we touched on “Why your professional life should be online”, reasons being:
- The internet is only going to become more popular
- Connecting the dots of your work
- Winning and not losing the internet game (on Klout)
- People are watching
- Someone will tell your story if you haven’t already
Now we will dig into “How your professional life should be online”, exploring this through each major social media channel. It is important to note that some guidelines are strictly related to a specific social media channel while many apply to using social media for your professional life in general.
Even though a good rule of thumb for anything you post online is that you should assume anyone can see it, this is especially relevant for Facebook. In general, this is where you find your most diverse audience. Connected with family, friends, co-workers and everything in between on the website. People who care about who you are and can quickly create opinions with a quick glance at your posts. On Facebook, when it comes to bringing your professional life online, it’s very appropriate to post updates on different occurrences and career moves/aspirations, and you can do this by cross-posting (which I will go into a bit later with Instagram).
It’s important to keep your Facebook personal because it is not LinkedIn. None the less it is still a powerful tool in professional branding and is usually where we find our most engagement, giving us a great opportunity. Though, with all social networks, it’s important they should always be a real reflection of who you really are. People and companies will be able to tell if you are trying to brand a different version of yourself. Overall, I find that Facebook is the most effective social networking tool to create the deepest connections with people you know.
LinkedIn has risen to fame as the “professional equivalent of a Facebook”, or as the “online resume”. These definitions, though in some respect true, significantly limit the vast tools the website has and the amazing future of the platform. Yes, it is important to build an effective and clear LinkedIn page, but just as important is to use, and be aware of these other tools. The website is great for connecting with specific individuals, and grow certain parts of your network that you feel are necessary. You can see certain demographic breakdown of your connections, by clicking “Your Updates” in the “Profile” tab and then clicking on “Followers”. Here you can see a breakdown of your connections in terms of seniority, industry and region. Giving you an inside look at where you can grow your network. Whereas in Facebook, you should be careful in whom you friend, in LinkedIn, it’s very appropriate to connect with your professor or your future boss.
On another note, your professional life online is very much a give and take relationship, where one should be very active on both sides (no matter what platform). As for the future of LinkedIn, with its purchase of Lynda (which will compete with the college degree) and with it’s new features, where you can add media to your profile, our pages will become even stronger representations of who we are, and allow us to connect in new levels.
Twitter for some, has been a hard social network to break into with impact (having to keep up with follower/following ratios strays away many people). Its usage has peaked at certain times and for certain social groups, but in general it has definitely lagged behind Instagram, as the alternative of Facebook for many younger folks. This has unfortunately stood in the way of how powerful of a tool Twitter is, and actually the most powerful of all if looking at the social media platforms at a global level. Facebook and LinkedIn are all about your networks while Twitter is about the world of internet users. There is no doubt that it is hard to build a following on the platform, but the potential to reach a tremulously large audience should never be ignored. Also, as one would imagine, Twitter is one of the easiest ways to get news and updates from our most admired leaders and organizations in an instant. One last note on Twitter, do not buy followers, it is very easy to tell if you have fake followers.
Images tell a story and they do so in a very powerful way, and a collection of images has the progression and constant evolution of that story. This is why I am a huge fan of Instagram. My professional pursuits are indeed part of my story, and part of my Instagram images. Furthermore, by using cross-posting, almost 90% of all my posts on Facebook, and around 15% on Twitter (though this is less recommended) are actually Instagram posts. Another thing about Instagram is that when you post, everyone who is in the app is guaranteed to see the photo if they are in the live feed (while on Facebook, the feed is personalized). This can play to your advantage, as you may want to post certain things only on Instagram, because of the guaranteed viewership of your followers. Furthermore, understanding ahead of time how popular your post will be, based on what your posting and what time you’re posting it, is crucial. With practice, no matter the platform, you should know in advance, the expected engagement of your post.
Blogs, though not created instantly like most posts in social media, are the best way to show people, your expertise and ability. The prior mentioned social media platforms are excellent ways to bring your life to the screens of other people around the globe but the powerful thing about blogs is not what is happening in your life, but instead what you know and can do. It is a way to provide real value to the reader. This is a powerful relationship that is mostly reserved for those that dare, but this shouldn’t be the case. We should all be writing, we all have personal expertise. As where you should blog, with the rising usage of LinkedIn, the already existing network base of the site (it will take time to grow a following on Medium, WordPress), along the professional attitude of the website, I think it is a no-brainer to present yourself to your professional network as a thought-leader. People hire you for what you do and not what you say.
This is where it all comes together. The central point of all your internet presence, where you organize your posts, pictures, blogs, articles and everything in between. It’s the one place people can get to know you, the way you want them to know you, and the reader gets to choose what they want to know. In this age, there is no excuse to not create a personal website. Especially with the ability to create a page in less than a minute by connecting any of your social networks to about.me or strikingly.com. My recommendation if you do not plan to update your page frequently, is to use about.me. While Strikingly, which is still very easy use, but has a lot more features, should be used if you are planning to update your page often.
The internet and social media are all tools, tools of expression and tools that while open, can often be used against us. This is one of the great challenges of our generation, will the internet help us serve social justice or will it oppress us. The question is still in the air. I believe that one way to own it, is to bring your full, honest self to the cloud, no matter what it is. To view the internet as more than just a consumerism circle. This will put the pressure on corporations to do the same, to connect on a more human level. Of course, I am not saying that bringing your professional life online, does not have its negatives. But I am saying that the positives do outweigh the negatives, and it is the right choice. This does not apply if you’re entering a field, where who you are as a person, and your background does not matter, but I have a hunch that it does.
This is my attempt to get your professional life online. I hope I convinced you. Feel free to post below your own experiences in bringing your professional life online.
Lastly, remember that Google search you did at the beginning of the first blog “Why your professional life should be online”, imagine the opportunities of making that search a compelling one by owning your professional identity online.
I look forward to sharing my next post “My first week at Goldman Sachs”. Until then, happy week ahead.