Everybody's got a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page. But few are making the most of these tools to enhance their professional value.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to better promote yourself. They don't cost any money. Why not do them all, right now?
1. Profile photo. I've been studying these and can tell you that most of them truly suck. It's not about how good-looking you are (you knew this already and it's 100%) but rather about how confident you seem.
If you're uncomfortable having others take photos of you, take a selfie. Mine is a selfie - I used iPhone to fix it up. Don't think it is pathetic and egotistical to get your profile photo this way. It's hard to get a good picture.
It goes without saying that we should see your whole face and that you should not put brand names into the background, e.g. that time you were interviewed by CNN or a banner showing your current employer.
2. Narrow your LinkedIn headline. This is a combination of theoretical mission statement and practical tagline and it is extraordinarily difficult to execute. You want to communicate something broad enough to cover the spectrum of what you do, and narrow enough to set you apart from others. It should feel right and be true.
You know it's good if it represents:
- The way you think.
- Your actual approach to work.
- Some sort of value that you have already added to another organization.
3. Use Klout. I hadn't logged in to Klout in awhile and was pleasantly surprised to find they'd really upped their game. Now, you can tell the application what subjects you're interested in and schedule Tweets in advance, in those areas. It is so incredibly, stupidly easy to use. I am very challenged when it comes to figuring apps out, and this one is a breeze. You can use it on a regular desktop computer or on your iPhone.
4. Fix up your bio. Everyone should have a professional description even if they aren't a public figure. These brief paragraphs are your story. The story might change, but having them focuses you on a narrative that you can use in talking to other people, when they ask "What do you do?"
I know I always have trouble with this question because in my mind, I'm thinking, "Well, a little bit of everything...how do I explain this...it's too much..." By the time I get my thoughts together, the other person's attention span is gone.
In the bio, you want to include bullet points that describe more narrowly what you do, your experience, your honors and your participation in industry activities. Keep it short and punchy. Feel free to review other people's LinkedIn bios to get a sense of what works.
5. Integrate your personal brand across channels. Over the years you've planted "seeds" of your personal brand in various places. You may not think of it this way, but you have. LinkedIn is not the only place people look - they're checking out Twitter, possibly Facebook, and any other mentions of you that would turn up in a Google Search. To the extent possible, make sure that your brand "matches" or at least represents an evolution over time that is rational.
For me, this is extremely challenging as I've worked in the public sector, private sector and academia and have the versatility to do a lot of things well. The key though is to look at yourself in terms of the greatest match between how you see yourself, and how others see you.
For me, the greatest and most consistent match has to do with the subject matter called "branding" and activities related to writing and teaching. No job is perfect, but if I can do any work that relates back to the above, I'm happy. And in the end, that's really what you want - a job where you can earn money and come home with a smile on your face.
Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo credit: Abigail Batchelder / Flickr