There are more professional networking and community sites today than you can shake a stick at. Yet as a professional business person, you need to have a presence on some choice locations to network with others, establish a communication channel, protect your reputation, and establish a brand for your company. In the online world, you have approximately ten seconds to “sell yourself” to a casual viewer. Depending on the method they find your information however, they may not be a casual viewer. They may actually be a “investigative prospect” actively looking for information about who you are.
The first place 99% of these viewers is going to begin looking for you online is in a search engine (Google / Yahoo / etc). Whether the profile in question is an individual or business one, establishing proper profiles on social media sites can increase search recognition, bolster traffic on specific phrases, and control how visitors perceive your information and presence. You need to have a PROFESSIONAL profile, image, and brand
What is a Professional Social Media Profile?
A professional social media profile is created like a well-tuned resume. It is your chance to high-light the best parts of who you are.
It is a “go to” source of information on you, your company, and the brand both entities have online. A well thought profile has the ability to influence readers and promote your brand. It also has the ability to act as a hub of information about different items such as reputation, testimonials, and reviews of your professional life.
Who needs one?
Everyone. Every business. Every team.
How many do you need?
The more the merrier.
Why does everyone need one? Why have multiple profiles?
The world of “search engines” is an evolving creature. When someone looks for your name or the name of your business online, what are they going to find? If you don’t have some established and professional profiles, they are going to find what someone else said about you or be subject to some company putting up random information on the search results of your name.
If you are “John Doe” the professional for instance, it is useful to understand that at least a few people have searched for your name online in the past six months. Depending on the exact industry and way you present yourself in the real world, that could lead to anywhere from one to thousands of monthly searches for your name.
Each profile you have online allows the search engines to have one more valid (and informative) result about who you are. If you have five different profiles online, when someone does a search for “John Doe” it increases the chance of having multiple results for your name on the first page of the search results. If you have a highly competitive name (and there are thousands of people named John Doe) you can link them properly to your website, e-mail, newsletter, and business cards to help enhance your brand control.
Most importantly- profiles you create have YOUR information and are under YOUR control.
As a professional, when was the last time you blindly trusted a random person to tell someone else who you were? If you have been in business for any length of time, the answer is probably a long time ago or never.
If you avoid having at least one professional social media profile, you are literally throwing yourself at the mercy of a stranger. They could say good or bad things, provide correct or wrong information, or purposely mislead someone into thinking something about you.
Where can you get a social media profile?
There are literally hundreds of sites that can create a profile on to help control your brand. Some example sites:
NAMYZ * LINKEDIN * BIZNIK * ZOODANGO.COM * MYBLOGLOG.COM * PLAXO.COM * ZOOMINFO.COM * SQUIDDOO.COM * CLAIMID.COM * YELP.COM * RYZE.COM * ZIGGS.COM * MEETUP.COM * NETSCAPE.COM * TECHNORATI.COM * UPCOMING.ORG * RATEPOINT.COM *
What are some of the uses for having a profile?
- You can use it to establish credibility.
- You can coordinate your reputation.
- You can catalog your testimonials (Namyz and Linkedin)
- It can connect your online brand and offline brand (use it on your collateral)
- You can pro-actively have an impact on your reputation.
- It becomes a business and professional asset, growing with time.
- It gives your audience (prospects, clients, and peers) a place to interact with you.
Why is all this important?
While some companies focus on “the top”, this is a fundamental problem in online marketing and brand promotion. Top results in search technology and branding are created by establishing a presence in many different places. You want people to have easy and quick access to accurate and worthwhile information about your professional brand. You also want viewers to recognize you as a leader in your industry and an expert in your area of focus.
How do I Create Professional Social Media Profiles?
Step One: Use strategy. Before you start creating profiles and running amok through dozens of social media sites, sit down and detail why you are creating these profiles. Securing a personal brand name, achieving higher search engine results, and exposing your company message to the community are all good goals. Each and every user of social media is going to have different personal and professional goals.
- How do you want to present yourself?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
- Will you be active in the community?
Step Two: Identify the information you want communicate. To save a lot of time and effort, collect the information you want to share with the world. If this is a professional application to enhance your career status, have an updated resume on hand and highlight the information you want to use. Consistent and clear information through-out a social media project is essential.
It is best to have a semi-polished presentation to your profile, but also try to understand the tone and culture of the site the specific profile is on. Every social networking site has a different demographic on it (Myspace is youthful and hip, Linkedin is professionals, Biznik is entrepreneurial) and while someone may find your profile through a search engine, you also have the opportunity to interact with the community on the site itself.
- What name do you want to use? This is important- as your name will be a primary way people find this information through searching.
- What keywords do you want to be found under? In any profile system that allows titles, descriptions, and other information- your priority keywords should be used.
- What visual picture is going to represent you? Almost every profile allows an image, have a company logo and profile image handy.
- What testimonials can you share? Everyone has a few good things other people have said.
- When your business was established
- What type of products and services you offer
- What your IDEAS and INSIGHTS are.
- Who is your ideal client (your target market)
Step Three: Where will I be and who will I be with? Social Media has the word “social in it for a reason. Utilizing your existing network is the quickest way to get a boost to the results that your profiles can have online. Below is a brief sample of sites that some of my information appears on. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that information could appear on.
Step Four: Invite people to participate. While there are branding and minor search engine benefits of social media, the true benefits come from actively participating in the medium by invited associates and other like-minded professionals to connect.
- Jump start your social media profiles by writing a quick e-mail to your top 25 contacts and inviting them to see your information.
- Make a monthly effort to invite 5 to 10 new connections.
- Choose one new social media site each month and create another profile.
Step Five- Taking it to the next level.
Educate yourself and join the conversation happening around your professional interests. Read some of the following articles to better understand how some of these issues interact with each other and how you can maximize your time and effort to produce results.