Today’s influencers need to network and create influence via the internet, Whether you are a banker, barrister or barista, you are not immune to that. That’s why you need a solid online presence. In this digital age, without a solid online presence, you will struggle to remain visible and connected.
It is a continuous process that takes time and dedication, and for some people, it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why I wrote this post. Use the following 6 steps as a guide to start building your own solid, online presence.
ONE: Stop and Think about your online presence
If you are a millennial, you never really had to think about your digital footprint. You just started walking around online and now you have a trail of tagged photos, tweets, High school pictures, comments, etc, behind you. You probably can’t remember the date you created your Facebook account. Now, you need to give it some thought. Nothing too serious, you only need to ask yourself:
- Who am I?
- What do I want my audience to know about me?
- What story is currently out there about me?
Why these questions? I’ll tell you. When people search for you online, they want to understand who you are, what you do, your values and point of view. They want to find out if they like you. Your digital footprint should answer those questions. It should contain your point of view and your thoughts about the topics your care about. It should contain examples that show us who you are when you are not working – your real self. You’ll be surprised how posting a picture of your garden will endear potential clients who love flowers to you. You don’t have to bore everyone with the same information across all your channels, but bear in mind that your bio, work portfolio, expertise and humanity should shine through. Your digital footprint is your business card. Check that everything is relevant and up-to-date. Google your name to see if who you want to be seen as, and what you want your business card to be, is reflected in what people find when they look you up. Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. Determine what success means to you, and let’s head out to step two.
TWO: Create a Linkedin Profile
LinkedIn is not just a social networking platform. It’s a resume builder and one of the best ways to become discoverable online. My maiden name was quite popular but when you do a Google Search of that name, I always came out first and guess what was showing up there? Yes, my LinkedIn profile. Also, two recruiters for reputable companies found me on LinkedIn and invited me for an interview. It turned out that one of them was not what I wanted, but you get my point. It is also one of the best ways to connect with people in your industry or fields you are interested in. It is also a great site for professional learning. Create your LinkedIn account, and take time to build a detailed profile. This takes time, so there’s no rush. But create the account first.
THREE: Create (Or Use Current) Social Media Accounts with care
Social Media has changed the world in many ways. I like to think of it as a bridge that gives me access to people, stories, and organizations that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. Social media has given me a platform for building a personal brand, access to thought leaders, real time information, income opportunities, and ability to build a global network of like minds. So, yes. I’m an advocate for the use of social media. However, I also recommend that you use it with care. With Social Media, more of your personal life is out there for people to see. Think twice before you post, be in control of your content, and update your security settings often. Create Social Media Accounts that suit your needs (two or three should do), make sure our ‘About/Bio’ tabs are aligned and on point. Start a conversation, Join a conversation, do whatever you want.
FOUR: Create a Blog or Website
This one is not for everyone, but I want to talk about it because most people that do not have blogs or websites are held back by fear. If you are a Freelancer or Creative, you need a website to showcase your portfolio and establish credibility as a real business. Alternatively, head over to About.me to create your own personalized webpage. If you are a Thought leader or Visionary you need a blog/website to share your perspective with the world, invest in the successes of others, and as a foundation for sharing your story with the world. Some people argue that Social media can do this for you but hey, do you remember My Space and Hi 5? Where are they today? Besides, what if Facebook decides to pack its bags today? Not likely, I know. But, never say never. That being said, if you are scared of the cost or skill required, fear not. Things are a lot easier these days. Platforms like WordPress allow you to easily create attractive and responsive blogs and sites that can be customized in endless amount of ways. Easy, and for Free. And I should know. I built my first WordPress blog without any prior experience. I am self hosting this blog on WordPress and I even teach other entrepreneurs how to do this, through my Build & Launch program. So, if you will get out of your own way, and just start, here is a very helpful resource to help you get the best out of your efforts.
FIVE: Look out the window
In case you did not get the memo, the world is flat and we are all very interconnected. The digital space is really just a room and parlor. You can no longer claim to be minding your own business and keep to yourself. Once you have your online profiles and/or websites in place, it’s time to look out the window and check out what’s happening in your niche and industry. One of the most important steps to strategically build your digital footprint is to listen first. Research trends, influencers you respect and want to be associated with. Follow/Like their profiles. Watch and learn from what they are doing. Find out what’s going on with the E-neighbors. Look out for other people that are just like you, those that will get what you are saying, those that need what you have to offer. These are your people, your tribe aka your target audience. In no time, you’ll figure out the hot topics, what to say and how to say it. Please note that your digital footprint is not a prospectus. It is the summary of your humanity. Make friends and post great content that your friends will find informative, inspiring or entertaining at least. Serve your audience a rich mix of curated (other people’s posts that you like or agree with) and original content. Anyway, remember step one and let it be your guide to engaging in a way that you’ll be proud of yourself.
SIX: Rinse and Repeat the steps above. Consistently
Creating a Facebook account is not enough to build a relevant digital footprint. I know you’ll be busy sometimes, but you need to find time to be persistent. If you need ideas for what to do/say on Social Media, read this post. Social Media is a tool. Don’t be a bench warmer in the digital space. Update your profile when necessary – I bet you won’t like to give anyone a CV that has not been touched since 2012. Write new posts often as you can. If you choose to upgrade to a business account, you can take advantage of Insights already embedded in the business version of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can even use scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule your posts in advance. Test them out and see what works for you.
I know you are busy, but all your passion and expertise can be jeopardized by what people find about you online. I’ll say it again, A strong digital footprint is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Potential clients, donors, investors and spouses will look you up online whenever they want to know more about you and what you do.