Date posted: 3/12/2018

Getting social: Growing your professional presence online

Drawing on Karalyn's experience in social media and career development, we explore what you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile, how to control your message online and look into the language that can help optimise your profile in front of potential employers.

A common mistake people make on LinkedIn

LinkedIn - unlike other social media channels - is not all about you, it's about career opportunities. Karalyn says a common mistake people make on LinkedIn is treating it like other social media platforms.

"It's not Facebook. It's not Twitter. It's not Instagram. It's a professional forum and what you put on it now, whether you're graduating, or you're early in your career or in the future, will be used as a validation tool for you professionally."
Karalyn Brown, Founder of Interview IQ.

Keeping your professional and personal channels separate is important because, in Karalyn's experience, you can bet that potential employers and recruiters are backgrounding you, forming their view of your professional potential based on your social media presence.

Always keep in mind that one of the purposes of your LinkedIn profile is to attract the interest of headhunters, recruiters and potential mentors. Your LinkedIn profile will often be the first impression you make, so ensuring it's professionally relevant is extremely important.

Enhance your online presence

If a potential employer searched your name, what would they find? Try performing a quick audit of your online presence by googling your name and seeing what comes up.

This gives you the opportunity to delete old MySpace accounts or photos from Facebook that won't serve you well on your professional journey. After checking in with your existing online presence, Karalyn recommends being thoughtful and strategic about what you post, share and write going forward, especially on your LinkedIn profile.

"Make sure that you understand who you are and what you want to represent before you put anything up. Invest some time in thinking about what your motivations are, what your strengths are, what your next career move might be. Make sure that's clear before you actually put something up online about yourself," she says.

Optimise your profile and network now

One of the most obvious but overlooked aspects of crafting your LinkedIn profile is that it's a networking site, so being conversational in the language you use works to your benefit when connecting with industry professionals and job prospects.

"Using first-person phrases, such as 'I'd love the opportunity to,' or 'I really enjoyed this,' or 'My role was to...' aligns with the kind of conversation you might have professionally when you meet a potential employer," Karalyn says.

She recommends that people properly fill in their profiles with detailed, demonstrated experience - and if you don't have demonstrable experience yet, you need to get creative with how you choose to stand out. Writing blog posts and sharing knowledge with your peers is an effective way to highlight your capabilities, professional drive and increase networking opportunities.

"You might be interested in some industry innovation that's emerging and write a post about it. People are going to Google that and your blog post might come up as a resource," Karalyn says. "It also shows that you're invested in networking, you're invested in other people, and you're sharing your knowledge. This is the sort of thing that helps to differentiate yourself on LinkedIn and get it working for you even if you don't have much professional experience to highlight yet."

Reaching out to specific contacts via InMail might seem intimidating, but with the right approach, it can be very effective in growing your professional network and opening up career opportunities. Karalyn advises to show your interest in what it's like to work for the recipient's organisation and open up the opportunity for a conversation, rather than sending them your resume and asking for a job. In short, keep it personal, professional, friendly, succinct, and not generic.

"People can spot a generically written email from a mile off," warns Karalyn.

Keep your Insta-worthy pic to yourself, unless... it's professionally awesome

If part of your professional character is that you challenge yourself and push boundaries and you've listed this as one of your qualities on LinkedIn, then that epic sky diving photo from your Instagram may actually demonstrate your professional character in the eyes of a headhunter or recruiter.

It's time to put your networking skills to the test. First, give your professional social media profiles the ultimate makeover and then start some conversations with people you're already connected with. Once you've got your digital approach to networking sorted, there's nothing stopping you from stepping away from the screen and applying the skills you've learnt to make some new connections at an in-person networking event.

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