By Meg Guiseppi
This article follows up one entitled Measuring Your Online Brand. Take a look at that before diving into this advice.
Like it or not, getting involved with social media and building your personal brand online have become essential components of today's job search.
If you're NOT out there - building your online presence and positioning your unique ROI (Return on Investment) and good-fit qualities in front of recruiters and your target employers - consider yourself invisible to the very people who can help you achieve your career goals.
Your goal should be to continuously build diverse online content about yourself, to provide those assessing you with plenty of information supporting your brand.
But always remember, if you're in a confidential job search, be very careful of your activity on social media, and any content you post anywhere online. Don't write or do anything that will "out" your search.
Here are 10 of the best ways to build your personal brand online.
One of the first things people assessing you will do is Google "your name." Shouldn't you do it, too, so you'll know what they're finding?
Track how many results come up for you in a search and what they say about you.
Your search results can literally change overnight, so it's wise to get into the routine of monitoring results at least once a week.
As you incorporate the suggestions below, check to see how quickly your actions yield search results and where they land in your list of results. This will help you determine whether your efforts are on target.
[See Defensive Googling for more on this topic.]
This free service lets you know when people say something about you online. Once you set up an account, Google Alerts will send you an email whenever a search term you've provided ("your name" or whatever other words you want) is published on the Internet.
Purchase the domain name "yourname.com" (example, "johnsmith.com"), or a variation.
Your personal URL is the perfect address for your website and/or blog (see #8 below). But even if you don't plan to launch a website or blog or don't know what to do with your personal URL, secure it before someone else does. Many registrars offer domain names for as little as $10-$15 a year.
At some point, consider going live with the personal domain name you've purchased and set up a website or, even better, a blog. Establish a home base for all your career and job search marketing materials, and social media activity. Recruiters and hiring decision makers can easily gain access to everything they need to know about you in one place, with one click.
Along with your contact information, include an abbreviated version of your personal brand statement, or brand tagline.
Add links to your personal blog, website/career portfolio, and/or online social networking profiles (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) - only if you're active on those sites.
Make it easy for people to get to accurate information about you online.
[See Personal Branding Using Your Email Signature for more information.]
With more than 300 million users and potential viewers of your profile - most likely including hiring decision makers at your target companies - LinkedIn is undeniably the most important social network for personal branding, job search, and career management.
In fact, not being there can negatively impact your brand and search efforts. If recruiters and hiring decision makers don't find you there, they may never find you. And lack of a LinkedIn presence brands you as inept or disinterested in social media, which is not acceptable in today's Internet-driven job search landscape.
At the very least, you need to use LinkedIn for passive job search and building your online presence by creating a brand-reinforcing, fully complete LinkedIn profile, populating all the sections that apply to you . . . even if you don't take advantage of all the social networking features. But that would be foolish!
[See Personal Branding with Your LinkedIn Profile for more information.]
The overarching value of Google Plus should be obvious. It's a Google platform, so your profile is likely to land high in your Google search results.
Many job seekers are just beginning to use Google+ to build their brands, so having a strong "About" page with keyword-rich, branded tagline at the top really pushes you ahead of the crowd.
My strategy for building personal branding and online visibility for my clients using a Google+ profile includes writing biography-type content (which is more storytelling-driven than a resume) that includes somewhat different content from their LinkedIn profile.
Along with building another search result for "your name," a Google+ profile provides diverse information about you, to those assessing you as a potential employee.
[See Personal Branding Using Google Plus Profiles for more information.]
Go beyond just using social networks and social media to build your online presence. Show that you're social media savvy by participating on a few social networks, building an online personal brand communications plan that is realistic for your schedule, and extends across several social networks.
Here are the Big 4 social networks:
Search engines love blogs because the content is relevant and constantly updated. Comment and guest blog on relevant blogs and/or consider starting your own blogsite. Blogging is a great way to share your expertise, build community, and position yourself as a niche expert. It is probably the best way to build credibility and will exponentially increase your search results and visibility.
In any blogging activities, offer useful information. Avoid blatant self-promotion and negative or off-color remarks. Remember that anything you post will become part of the blogosphere. Don't write anything you may regret later. As a guest blogger, be sure to post an on-brand profile of yourself.
[See Build Your Personal Brand Online by Guest Blogging and Personal Branding By Making Comments on Blogs for more information.]
Set up an account and personal profile on the top booksellers' sites. Review books that are relevant to your field and areas of expertise. Each profile you have on one of these sites translates to more search results for your name. Your reviews will also land in your search results, and may be picked up and published on many other bookseller sites, greatly increasing your search results.
Look for professional and industry associations where you can both learn and be more visible.
Get involved in the associations' networking opportunities. Contribute to online discussion forums, write blog posts and articles, present teleseminars and/or webinars. Basically, get involved with projects that will receive online press.
Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master.Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Google+ and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi).