Posted on April 6, 2016

Companies spend a fortune annually increasing their online visibility in exactly the manner they want to be perceived, whilst paying attention to several dos and don’ts of online marketing for a corporate brand. However, what about your personal brand? Should it not equally require your devout attention as a professional?

Online networking during job searches has opened the floodgates for professional online profiles. You want an edge over countless competitors who are taking the leap and posting their profiles online – on networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.

How can you optimize your personal brand to enhance your visibility? The great news is that it’s the easiest brand to work with. Why? It’s personal, it’s you, and you decide for the most part how it’s portrayed.

Here are 8 tips to help you optimize your online profile like an organisation would a corporate website.

Captivate your Audience: Naturally, the content of your profile is key. Start with a power headline that pulls people into your profile, and then create an opening summary that sells your specialties. It is very important to write outside the box by being authentic and avoiding clichés. Not too much content, nor too little – the key is getting enough to say enough and keep it exciting. Within the constraints of business communication, write like you talk. Avoid using extremely technical or outrageously heavy words repeatedly just because you can. No recruiter wants to go into a dictionary to clarify what your profile says before they can decide whether or not you qualify.

Keep it Up to Date: Change jobs? Update. Change job title? Update. Add some qualification, vocational skill, new hobby on-the-job? Update. In other words, update as often as your professional situation changes. Another great way to keep things current is to add new peer recommendations on a consistent basis. This is an excellent way to keep the content on your online profiles fresh. The best way to do it? Aim to get a new recommendation every month. If you get several recommendations at once, spread them out.

Establish Keywords around your Expertise: Focus the content on your professional expertise, benefits, and accomplishments. Find specific terms to describe what you do and use them intermittently in the same way any good website does. The more specific about what type of work you do, the more it will help you get found by the right potential employers.

Be ‘Consistently’ Everywhere: Hide and seek is unnecessary. Today, there is no clear line between search engines and social media, they are officially joined at the hip. The easiest way to be found is to be ‘consistently’ everywhere – starting with your name – which lends credence to the fact that your professional profile had best be consistent with your digital personality (we’ll chat about that in a subsequent post). Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and a personal blog that are all connected via links improve your personal search rankings. A practical example of a dysfunctional link is if your twitter handle for instance is @hotmama with a prominent participation as a social entrepreneur against a Google+ page with your given first and last name and no interests or activity; it is unlikely that both profiles will be attributed to same person for any attendant benefit.

Get the Recognition You Deserve: It’s okay to brag a little on these platforms as long as you can back it up by factually explaining them – how you delivered on a goal or received top marks for performance. Post awards, accolades, and significant accomplishments. All legitimate recognition should be included in your profiles no matter who’s pointing them out. Yes, it’s generally better to have someone else brag about you, so request specific personal, academic and professional recommendations from your friends, tutors and colleagues, peers, seniors and subordinates in your past and present endeavours. In bragging, do endeavour to hold back on overdoing self-praise and avoid empty adjectives like outstanding, superior, exclusive, etc., as you describe your skills or qualities. Without backing up your claims, no one believes them anyway.

Get Involved: the online community is very much like a professional networking cocktail where you have short interesting conversations around various clusters of professionals, you have to seek interests and get involved. These participation allow you present your knowledge and show your strength without appearing to be trying. Alumni and professional groups on LinkedIn are a great place to start, and you’ll notice that they create excellent fora for networking with company executives and recruiters.

Don’t oversell your Versatility: Versatility is a good thing especially if you function within a growing business, and more importantly, it develops management skills. In the development of your profile however, you need to tread cautiously to avoid looking like a jack of all trades but a master of none when you throw all that experience together like Friday night’s left over. Remember that often when employers go to the market, they are usually looking for specialists to fill a particular gap and not generalists.

Don’t regurgitate your Resume: Finally, no one wants to read a resume in a resume; your profile ought to be the high-points that help pick the employer’s interest. Your content should be well rounded to cover all pertinent areas; academics, experience, achievements, hobbies.

Additionally, do not underestimate the importance of a cultural fit, however avoid any kind of information that can introduce prejudice, such as religious or political affiliations, and for security reasons, do not include any overly personal information beyond your mobile number, email or post office box address.

Found other successful tips for optimizing your professional profile? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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