Whether you’re a CEO, an independent contractor, a job-seeker, or even a student, your brand is an asset which hinges on public perception. Everything you include online is important.
While it may not be easy to view yourself as a product or trademark, think about everyone who is reading your online profile before deciding whether to hire you, date you, friend you, do business with you, decide whether you are credible.
Nearly everyone with whom you meet will look you up. What information do you want them to see? It’s a great idea to regularly take a critical look at your online presence and see if it matches the public perception you aim to portray. Potential employers are a handy yardstick. Before hitting “post,” consider how your post would look to a person considering you for an important job.
Who is checking you out?
People who read your profile might include:
- Potential employers
- College admission boards
- People you meet who are interested
- Fellow students, peers and potential clients
- In-laws and their friends/relatives
- Law enforcement
- Potential date interests
- Customers and vendors
It’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate yourself from afar. Before meeting a new client, submit an application, or go out on a first date, scrub your social media.
Watch your language.
How you communicate reveals a great deal about your intelligence, education and cognitive skills. Language shortcuts, self-disparaging words, poor grammar and bad spelling give the impression that you’re careless at best, and uneducated at worst.
The fix: Few people will examine more than a few dozen posts. Delete anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, and spend a few days making thoughtful, interesting posts. Ask your friends to cooperate, and tell them why you’re cleaning it up.
Check your photos.
What makes a great impression? Variety. Fun with friends, vacation pictures, holidays, family gatherings, even great food photos all contribute to creating the impression of a well-rounded person with healthy relationships and lots of interests.
The fix: Take down any embarrassing photos and make sure you’re not tagged in any photos you don’t want a potential employer to see. Contorted, duckface selfies might get likes, shares, and comments, but everything about them sends the wrong message to most of the people likely to impact your life.
Police your groups.
Well-meaning friends might add you to groups without your consent. Make sure all the groups you associate with enhancing the overall impression you want to leave behind.
The fix: Opt out of any questionable groups and find a few groups to join that fit your career direction, interests, or ambitions.
Grief, fear and joy are normal. When something big happens, posting about your feelings is normal. In fact, genuine emotion is part of your authenticity. But as you emote, be mindful of going overboard and turning your innermost feelings into a public meltdown.
The fix: Think carefully about how much you share. Is a hastily written post attention-seeking or informational? Refrain from posting in the heat of emotions.
Your instinct might be to shy away from social media, but building a personal brand is important today. People are less likely to think of you as an intriguing man of mystery and more likely to think of you as a person with something to hide. Or worse, a Luddite who isn’t comfortable with progress. If you were an employer, would you hire someone who cannot adapt to technology introduced twenty years ago?
Post, chat, connect with friends and don’t be afraid to be yourself online. Just remember to be the best version of you. Showcase your most attractive qualities. And you know, when you work to create a positive online presence, you boost your self-image. To the world, you are what you post!
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.