In the age of social media, the image we portray on the internet plays a large role in the way we are perceived in everyday settings. While this can sometimes be daunting, our social media presence has the ability to really work in our advantage professionally, if done properly.
In a 2018 column, I wrote about the importance of networking and how professional relationships can move us closer to our goals. In light of internship and application season, this could mean the difference between getting connected, getting the job or being looked over.
A lot of professionals are utilizing social media platforms to build a brand and to ultimately promote a product or service. We are capable of doing the same for ourselves and our talents.
I like to consider social media pages as social resumes. They don’t have to be strictly professional, but they can be used to promote passions, travel opportunities, connections and aspirations.
Your brand speaks for who you are before you even get a chance to say it for yourself.
“If you don’t develop your own personal brand, others will do it for you,” said Laura Lake on thebalancesmb.com. “Developing your personal brand is the proactive way of controlling your career development and how you are perceived in the marketplace.”
There are a couple of key steps that will allow you to start branding yourself and ultimately winning over the hearts of employers and future partners and clients.
Be intentional about your posts
I don’t intend to take the fun out of Instagram and Twitter, but the things we post tend to linger well after the heat of the moment. Often times, we’re unaware of half of the people we’ve reached and impacted through our words and photos.
When we practice being more intentional, we can ensure that everything we post serves a purpose, whether that’s just to inform, to inspire or even to entertain and simply make someone happy.
Identify your audience
It’s easier to tailor your content when you’re aware of who you’d like to see it, and there are a couple of ways to do this. Start by identifying your field and industry of interest, then follow people who are popular and influential in the field. This will allow you to be inspired and encouraged by their content.
Hashtags are also extremely important in engagement. I know that I’m interested in storytelling and inspiring others through words, so I followed hashtags that lead me directly to that content, and I started a hashtag of my own to keep track of the work I post.
It’s important to make sure you’re not just sharing quality content during certain parts of your life or of the year, but that you’re being consistent with your posts. Employers and potential connections can tell when you’re deciding to look a certain way on your pages versus what you usually post. This can be a red flag.
There is a healthy space between being your true self while maintaining a brand so that you don’t have to clean up everything you’ve ever posted when you’re applying to an internship or job opportunity.
Once you decide how you want people to perceive you on social media, commit to it and stick to it. Your online presence can take you places professionally that you aren’t physically able to travel to. Get connected.