Occasionally, as I am watching the Discovery Channel, I imagine a human being 1000 years from now sifting through data from a decaying Internet. I imagine this future anthropologist attempting to construct my life history from fragments of information scattered throughout the World Wide Web like an archaeologist assembling pieces of a broken urn. What would they learn about me? Do you ever wonder what your online profile and history say about you?
Each day new avenues emerge to showcase your identity, your passions and your talents online. It is up to you to filter the image that is projected in these arenas. Especially as you walk down the path of personal development or entrepreneurship, it makes sense to inspect the shards of your personality scattered across the Internet and ensure that they reflect your true purpose.
Your Online Professional Resume Profile
Aren’t resumes a relic of the past? Who reads your resume anyway? It is hard to believe that not too long ago your resume was your profile. Your resume listed the internships you had taken during your college years and the papers you had published so that you could get a graduate school assistantship. As an employee your resume indicated your experience and your career path within your chosen industry. However, today most employees and entrepreneurs connect with prospective clients not through resumes but through networking and social recruiting.
What does a resume have to do with an entrepreneurial life? You are right that as a startup girl (or guy) you probably don’t need a true resume, but lingering ghosts of the employee life must be vanquished or at least redirected. If you are like me you may have been overly enthusiastic about your professional profile at some point in time and created accounts on numerous job search engines – Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed etc. Some of these accounts may date back a decade or more. Chances are those profiles don’t reflect your entrepreneurial present. When I quit my corporate job, one of the first tasks I undertook was to review and update these accounts. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are revamping your professional profiles:
- Once you have completed your vision-boarding, mind mapping exercise for where you are headed as an entrepreneur, make sure you pick skills and talents from your past that you want to showcase. Say, if you were in Operations analysis at Company C and that doesn’t factor into your long term plan, you will want to highlight the skills acquired in that position that are still relevant.
- Make sure that your contact information is current. Use one email address for all of these accounts. While you are at it, you can create a label or filter within your email account to funnel all related emails to a separate folder.
- You may want to retain your profiles on these job forums and not deactivate them completely. However, I do recommend changing the account settings to make your profile private. Thereby you can limit emails you receive from recruiters.
- Each job search engine requires work history information to be uploaded in a different format. Make sure that you upload a consistent summary and description of your positions and skills.
- LinkedIn has become the online version of your resume. At a minimum you need a presence on LinkedIn connecting to your social media profiles or your blog.
Your Online Social Media Profile
With ubiquitous Facebook integration on websites and social media platforms, next on your list should be your Facebook profile. If you have already registered your startup as a company, then you should create a unique Facebook page. I still recommend refining your personal Facebook profile to reflect your current goals.
When I commenced my entrepreneurial journey last year, my Facebook profile was fragmented. I had been a Facebook user for several years and had an incomplete profile. I wasn’t using most of the advanced features or exploring options to connect with fellow entrepreneurs. Here are some of the steps I took to make my Facebook profile consistent with my professional profile:
- The About Section: This is the easiest thing to do and has the power to convey your personal story. You will want to update this information to indicate your current situation. Ideally the About section should correspond with the About page on your website or blog. It should link to any of your other significant profiles such LinkedIn.
- Your Work Summary: I had qualms about sharing my employment history with others not because there was anything to conceal. But, mainly because I did not want my goals and philosophies to be associated with those of my former employers. However, I intended to not share any of my opinions on these former employers, and I decided to complete this information.
- Miscellaneous Interests: Watch out for this pitfall of Facebook especially when using it in a professional context! If you are the kind of person who has extremely specific views on politics or any other hot topic, I highly recommend refraining from making this a part of your online identity unless it is foundational to your startup’s philosophy. It also applies to your sense of humor. While I love a good joke myself, I want to present interests on social media that are fundamental to the way I want to impact the world. It was initially challenging to filter all of my social media actions based on this altered worldview. But I am happier now because my eclectic tastes (which have nothing to do with my professional life) are not on display on Facebook.
- Your Social Media Strategy: If you have come this far, the next step would be to develop a Social Media Strategy. Even if you are the lone commander-in-chief of your startup, you can exert a greater influence on your social network by developing a comprehensive strategy.
- What current events resonate with you or are applicable to your business?
- What are your current goals? If you are a personal development enthusiast, how can you propagate your message? I started a fitness challenge during the month of May and shared my milestones with my friends. Many of them responded that they were motivated towards adopting a healthier lifestyle themselves.
- What books are on your current reading list? Have you gained information from any books that have to be shared? I recommend connecting with Goodreads through your Facebook account to capture your reading history. If you are a Constant Reader, you will find plenty of resources and kindred souls on Goodreads.
- Who are your influencers? Can anyone within your ever-expanding network circle benefit from what you have learned?
- What are some of your struggles? In order to form authentic connections amongst your peers and your readers, you need to be willing to share the challenges you are facing.
- Can your business benefit from Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter? I find Instagram to be suitable when travelling and capturing moments that you want to share with your audience. Pinterest is great for creating boards pertaining to your goals or interests. It lends itself well to businesses that have a visual dimension to them such as weddings. I am personally not very active on Twitter due to the brevity of the platform. However, it appears to be an apt medium for broadcasting links to posts, podcasts or other multimedia, especially in real time.
Your Online Profile Picture(s)
Let’s not forget that you need a suitable profile picture for your blog and other profiles. You will need to start with a quality photo captured at as high a resolution as possible. You can resize the photo through Photoshop or any number of online photo editors. Each platform has its own requirements for profile and cover photos, which I will address in a follow up post.
You can have an online profile that is authentic yet highlights your accomplishments and your entrepreneurial aspirations in the best possible light. You just have to plan well and remember to adjust as your business grows.
What are some of the challenges you face with maintaining a true and uniform online profile? Which social media platforms are you most active on? Do you have a comprehensive social media strategy? What do you think a future anthropologist will make of our multi-persona existence on the Internet?
Photo Credit: Lollyknit