With the immersion of social media, career professionals can now quickly grow their online footprint with a simple click-of-a-mouse. Having a strong online brand will ensure you are connecting with the right individuals to maximize, expand, and enhance your career connections. However, in order to build a strong online personal brand, you first must understand the social media sites and tools available to help you leverage your opportunities.
Recently, UMUC Alumna Arfa Syed ’10 delivered a presentation on the importance of using LinkedIn as a valuable tool for growing your professional network and social media presence. Syed shared that the work-life balance model is now transitioning. Today, society is following more of a work-life integration model, because with technology, our professional and personal environments are merging making it difficult to separate both of these worlds as they blend into one.
With more than 332 million people on LinkedIn and 40 percent of users engaging with the site daily, this social media platform is a popular site for career professionals. Syed provides the following tips to make sure you are maximizing your branding opportunities:
- Use a current profile picture. Your LinkedIn profile picture is a chance for you to make a good first impression. In fact, someone is more likely to view your profile if you include a photo, compared to someone who does not. Therefore, make sure you have a current, professional headshot that represents you, and the industry you are currently working or hope to be working in.
- Update your profile. Keeping your LinkedIn profile current is the single most important thing you can do to develop your personal brand. Creating a profile tagline either using your current job title or a brief summary of your expertise acts as a personal headline for your personal brand. The summary section is considered the most important space on your profile, so make sure the information you include highlights your experience, accomplishments, and shows a little of your personality. You should use key words and industry terms in the experience section to highlight your job responsibilities for each position you held, so people who have similar experiences – or hiring managers looking for candidates with similar skill sets – can find and connect with you.
- Ways to connect. Once your profile is complete, look for ways to connect. LinkedIn highlights job anniversaries, promotions and career changes within your connections, so reach out and post a congratulatory message to a connection who received a promotion or started a new job. Also, look at the content your connections are posting, and comment as appropriate. Join a group to connect with specific industry leaders or alumni from your alma mater. Become a thought leader and create your own content to share with your network. The more you connect on LinkedIn, the more opportunities you have to further define and strengthen your personal brand.
With the advent of social media and the transition of the work-life integration becoming more of a reality, it is important to recognize the importance of having a strong social brand. Career based social media sites, such as LinkedIn, provide career professionals with additional opportunities to connect and increase online networking opportunities. To learn more about this topic, please feel free to view Syed’s presentation by clicking here.
Jennifer Tomasovic is the director of Communications for the Career and Alumni Services at University of Maryland University College. She has spent her career crafting communications strategies and messaging using both marketing and public relations tactics to enhance the brand and reputation for both the clients and organizations she has represented.