Below is a recent post I wrote for Brand Yourself about building and maintaining a professional online image.
Go to BrandYourself.com to check out great blog posts about personal branding.
8 Tips to Building and Maintaining a Professional Online Image
Maintaining a professional online image is a very important aspect of your career. Through a simple online search, an employer or client can find out what you like to do, how you blog and tweet and see the overall professional online image you portray of yourself.
Here’s advice and eight tips on maintaining your image as a professional online:
First of all, how often do you update your Facebook status? More importantly, how do your updates reflect your professional online image? The status “At the bar getting trashed tonight” does not sounds professional. Neither does the wall post from your friend talking about that last party.
Tip No. 1: Don’t use your status updates to share information about the actions an employer doesn’t need to know about, censor your wall posts and patrol the posts written by others on your own wall.
The photos you post also can impact how people perceive your online professional image. Although it won’t hurt your image if you have photos showing you outside of the professional setting, it will hurt you if your photos display you in a way an employer may see as inappropriate. Even if you don’t post unprofessional photos of yourself, your friends could still tag you in photos without considering how it could affect your image. Depending on your career goals, the type of photos considered appropriate will vary.
Tip No. 2: Never post pictures of yourself at a bar, party or other situation that may be inappropriate and inform your friends to ask for permission before tagging you in a photo.
Facebook users concerned with maintaining a professional online image also should be cautious about joining groups and fan pages. Groups such as “Party Girls” do not portray professionalism. The various applications on Facebook, such as quizzes and games, also can affect your image.
Tip No. 3: Try to avoid joining groups, fan pages and applications that are not relevant to your field. If you decide to join an irrelevant group, be sure it is about a topic you would be willing to discuss with a company CEO and your grandmother.
Setting your profile to private is one way to avoid professional online image issues. But, people often accept friends who they do not know well. Additionally, a potential employer may go through a mutual friend to see your profile.
Tip No. 4: Even with strict privacy settings, it is still possible for other people to get access to your Facebook account. Always be insistent on maintaining a professional online image, even if your profile is set to private.
Your tweets and the conversations you join are a reflection of your professional online image. If you do not have your tweets set to private, watch what you tweet.
Tip No. 5: Build a professional online image by sharing ideas and information and adding knowledge to the community. Write relevant and useful tweets.
One of the social networks used less often by young professionals is LinkedIn. But, LinkedIn can help build credibility in a person’s professional online image. You should go beyond simply filling out a profile and take full advantage of the site’s features.
Tip No. 6: Request recommendations, join groups and answer questions of other users after creating your LinkedIn profile.
Participating in the blogosphere also can help build a professional online image. Blogging displays leadership and knowledge in your given field. As a blogger, you also should contribute to the community by commenting on other blogs. If you wish to be seen as a professional, you should not write about personal matters on your blog.
Tip No. 7: Strategically write blog posts that will showcase your skills and knowledge and comment on other industry-related blogs.
A personal Web site or online portfolio is a great tool to help build a professional online image. Not only does it show that you are serious about your career, but you also can include materials to promote your personal brand, such as recommendations and work examples.
Tip. No. 8: Create a clean, well-designed Web site focused on promoting your personal brand in your field to help build your image.
Professional online images take time to create and build. By following these eight tips, you can help build a positive and credible online image that can help advance your career.